A friend who writes category romance for Harlequin recently told me she’d been instructed to include a minimum of three well-known romance tropes in the first chapter of her next book. Since she writes for the medical romance line, that means there are actually four tropes in that crucial first chapter.
Category romances, in case you don’t recognize the term, are very short (50,000 words, or around 250 pages), very simple (single main plot, no subplots) novels that revolve very tightly around the building relationship between the two main characters.
A trope is a recurring theme or device in a work of literature. Some well-known romance tropes are:
- Single dad
- Friends to lovers
- Enemies to lover
- Second chance at love
- Secret baby
- One night with consequences
- Marriage of convenience
- Forced proximity
- Fake relationship
And lots of combinations of the above.
Settings can also be tropes, as can the professions of the characters (e.g. doctors, cowboys, CEO’s).
I’m always keen to figure out new ways to appeal to potential readers. Harlequin sells a lot of romance novels. If they think tropes make for good marketing, who am I to argue?
My current work-in-progress incorporates enemies to lovers, second chance at love, one night with consequences and forced proximity.
Here’s my first cut at a blurb featuring my four tropes:
She-demon Lilith has waited thousands of years for a chance to get back at her ex-husband, Sam, for walking away when Satan ordered them to split up. Now Satan has assigned Sam to lead Hell’s delegation in trade talks with Heaven, and Lilith to handle the administrative details. It’s the perfect opportunity to even the score.
Faced with an unwinnable battle, Samael, demon of pride and head of Hell’s legal division, did the sensible thing when Satan ordered him to abandon the love of his life—he moved on. But he never got over her. Now he has another chance. When Lilith overlooks reserving a room for him in the conference hotel, he simply he moves into her room. She’ll never be able to resist his demon wiles at such close quarters.
Lilith’s resulting pregnancy comes as a shock to both of them. Their reactions differ but they agree on one thing: Satan must not be allowed to get his hands on their child. Can Hell’s power couple resolve their differences and escape Hell to join the world of PTO’s, school lunches and youth soccer?
And if they do, will Earth ever be the same?