Reclaiming the Trope
Look up the word trope in your dictionary. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
The first definition is probably something along the lines of “a metaphor”. The second definition is probably something along the lines of “a cliche”. The second definition likely isn’t tagged “pejorative”, but it should be. People sneer at tropes, whether they’re talking about movies, books, or any other form of art.
And yet romance novels, especially category romance novels, are built on tropes. The entire idea of the genre is that we take a relatively few elements — a lover, another lover, (maybe more lovers), a trope or two or ten, emotion, conflict, and a satisfying ending — and we tell a story that is different, interesting, engaging, unique.
That’s the challenge of the genre. That’s the joy — both in writing and in reading.
Tropes fade in and out of popularity. It’s a pretty hard sell to set a romance in contemporary times and have a credible ward/guardian love story without setting off every possible creepster alarm — but it *can* be done. It’s easier to use the trope of the secret baby now that lots of women are enjoying lots of sex. Royalty — especially sheikhs — are a bit sparse on the ground, but there are an awful lot of athletes and military men. Some tropes have become inflated — millionaires have become billionaires (I guess that’s the value of shrewd investing, early in one’s financial career.)
So? What’s your favorite trope? You know you have one. Or maybe more than one.
I’ve put together a list of romance tropes: http://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/
Check it out, and let me know if I’ve missed your favorite!