Newbie to Novelist’s Top 10 Favorite Romance Tropes

Happy Valentine’s Day, and as a special bonus (in addition to releasing my free novella today) I wanted to publish some extra blog content. Enjoy my countdown of favorite romance tropes, and let me know if you agree with my list.

Before we start, you might be asking… what is a trope? Tropes are plot/theme devices or character archetypes that have become a convention within the genre because of frequent/popular use.

Here’s my top ten list of romance tropes. Please note, romantic tropes can be combined and woven together, and when these tropes are done well, I thirst for them!

10. Fated lovers

These are the soulmates. There’s some magical or cosmic force that’s predestined the two love interests to be together. What really drives this one home for me is a reluctance of one or both parties involved, which tends to work well with enemies to lovers.

9. Fake relationships

Fake it till you make it, right? The moment two characters decide to fake a relationship, they are opening themselves for the possibility of a real one. The audience is then anxiously watching their feelings grow and go from artificial to genuine.

8. Friends to lovers

This trope goes out to all the childhood friendships that have blossomed to something more. The best foundation for a romance is often friendship. There’s great satisfaction when the protagonist realizes that the friend that’s been by their side was their love interest all along.

7. Love triangles

I feel like love triangle have a bad reputation.

Sure, sometimes they can feel clichéd, contrived, or just annoying; but that is the case with nearly any writing trope. While I love “a one true love” scenario as much as the next sappy reader, it’s believable that affections can split based upon situation.

I crave love triangles that reflect the protagonist’s character journey, in which case either love interest represents choices that lead the protagonist along their arc. I also love messy love triangles that don’t fit the ordinary mold.

6. Rescue romance

Saving someone from a perilous situation can have a profound effect on someone. And while I enjoy fairytales of dashing knights rescuing maidens, I like when this is matured a bit. For example, in my novel Kingdom in Shadow the two main characters are both on the run and save each other’s lives quite a few times, and each time brings them both together.

“I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day.”

––Meg
Disney’s Hercules

5. Forced proximity

This trope often goes hand in hand with enemies to lovers, because it shoves two people together whose paths wouldn’t have ordinarily crossed. They now have to coexist and when they do, the sparks start to fly.

4. Partners in crime

This is a ride or die romance, like Bonnie and Clyde. The love interests usually have the trust game down pact and most of the relationship’s conflict usually comes from external factors. These are often couples that can have an entire conversation in a single glance.

3. Lovers to enemies

Break-ups suck, but nothing stings the heart more than a protagonist’s lover becoming the antagonist. The memories shared are tainted, and the former lover still always holds a burning vulnerability over the protagonist.

This trope is different than others on the list because it often opens the protagonist up to meet the true love interest as the former lover transforms into a ‘villain’.  Or a couple can bounce back and forth between enemies and lovers.

2. Enemies to lovers

So the opposite…

Because of X, Y, and Z reasons, two individuals hate each other’s guts, but because of the circumstances of the plot they are thrust together. Typically, the reason for their hatred stems from some misunderstanding, or paves over as they both advance along their character arcs.

I absolutely LOVE it when an author can shift my perception of a character and transform a villain into a dashing love interest.

1. Forbidden lovers

Give me all the pining, longing, and repressed feelings.

The two lovers want to be together but for several reasons, they just can’t. There’s no shortage on the number of reasons that could keep a couple apart. The more obstacles to overcome, the better.

BONUS: My least favorite romance tropes

Slave/Master

No matter how well written, there’s no way that it’s ever romantic to own someone.

Teacher/Student

This one is the worst when the student is an impressionable minor, but it throws in some morality questions whenever this situation occurs, including the question of true consent.

Hidden Pregnancy

I’m all good with a surprise pregnancy bringing people together, but if the trope has to use lies, deceit, and trickery, it doesn’t strike me as healthy.

Bottom line, give me repressed feelings, conflict, and angst… But don’t give me abuse, toxicity, or lack of consent. I want to see quality writing about healthy, supportive relationships, please and thank-you!

If you found this post useful, let me know in the comments below. Message me with any content you would like to see in the future! Don’t forget to subscribe to the Newbie to Novelist Newsletter.

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