Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Tropes in Category Romance

on November 1, 2012

This month, I’m participating in the Entangled Smack Down NaNoWriMo which is being run by Savvy Authors.

NaNoWriMo is when authors commit to writing a very fast draft of 50,000 words in a month. Anne Lamont in Bird by Bird calls it the shitty first draft. You can find out more about NaNoWriMo here.

The first two weeks of Boot Camp, we submitted our synopsis and outlines for Entangled editors to give us feedback. One of the things we had to address was knowing our trope. I’m participating in the Entangled Ever After/Flirts team (this is for romance novellas), and we only needed one trope. However, other lines such as Entangled Bliss needed a main trope and two minor tropes.

(If you don’t know about Entangled, check them out! They have many romance lines including YA, Bliss (Sweet Contemporary) and Ever Afters/Flirts (Novellas). They often have special submission call outs. I just heard the co-founder, LizPelletier speak at the RWA Seattle Conference and she was great!)

So what is a trope?

A trope is or a familiar plot line or set-up, that is instantly recognizable to readers. Romance readers (and YA readers) will recognize tropes. For example, some romance tropes include:

friends to lovers,

business competitors,

girl/boy next door,

accidental pregnancy,


ugly duckling.

You can find a very extensive list of tropes here

Now, how can tropes be helpful in writing? Tropes can help craft a plot! If I’m writing a story about two characters who are at each other’s throats as business competitors–think You’ve Got Mail, then I know that is going to be the primary plot which is driving my story.  Now, this is not to say that the story becomes predictable (or it shouldn’t), if I’m doing my job as a writer, then I am going to engage my reader with interesting details within that trope, and that is where the research becomes so important for a story. In my YA romance, WEAVING MAGIC, Shantel and Christopher are bad boy/good girl trope. However, to liven things up a bit, I created Christopher to be a bad boy who is in AA. He’s not in his bad boy days, he’s trying to recover from his bad boy days.

So, if you’re writing and drafting for NaNoWriMo and stuck on the plot, think about using a trope in your story and see if you can generate a few more ideas!


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