“The Truth about Tropes” by YARWA member Linda Budzinski
As a proud member of #BachelorNation, one of my favorite people on Twitter is former Bachelor Sean Lowe, who met his wife, Catherine, during his season in 2013. Just before Thanksgiving, Sean posted a Tweet that made me laugh out loud:
“Catherine has already started watching Lifetime Christmas movies and I think my brain may explode if I have to endure six more weeks of this stuff. Also, somewhat nervous about her leaving me for a small town guy who’s trying to save his family’s business.”
Yep. I watched my share of Lifetime and Hallmark movies over the holidays, and I can attest, that (or something very similar) was the premise of half of them.
Why do romance movies and novels tend toward certain storylines? The answer is simple: Because viewers and readers love them!
Webster’s dictionary defines a trope as, “a common or overused theme or device: cliché.” Cambridge, on the other hand, defines it as, “something such as an idea, phrase, or image that is often used … in a particular type of art.”
I like the Cambridge definition better. This is art, people! Tropes are our palettes, and it takes a skilled artist to use them to create stories that make readers laugh, cry, and swoon.
As YA romance writers, tropes are our friends, because readers—and especially romance readers—know what they like. And YA romance readers, bloggers, agents, and influencers are not shy about seeking out or recommending their favorite tropes, whether those be “friends to more,” “opposites attract,” “forbidden love,” “sports romance” or any of the 145 Romance Tropes (yes, 145!) identified by Jill Williamson on her blog.
Bottom line: Your YA romance novel probably includes at least one, and probably several, tropes. Know what they are and don’t be afraid to use them to target readers who love those types of stories.
(Also, if you’re not already following @SeanLowe09, you should be. He’s hilarious.)
Linda Budzinski is author of four YA romance novels, including YARWA 2015 Rosemary Award winner The Boyfriend Whisperer. www.lindabudzinski.com
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