The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

Genre and Trope and Stuff


As we saw last week, the romance genre is big business.

If you want to break into the romance genre then it is a good idea to know the general tropes. You goal is to write a novel that will meet your readers’ expectations. Remember that romance readers are very knowledgeable. They are also a tight knit community of readers who share the books they love with their friends. There’s a negative side to that knowledge and community as well. If you don’t give them what they expect, in a bad way, they will tell their friends. So give them what they want.

How do you come up with an idea for a romance that meets your readers expectations? Use tropes. A trope is a common device for storytelling, and every romance reader knows them. There are generally three sub-categories for romance tropes: Situational, Character, and Sexual.


  • Accidental Pregnancy
  • Accidental Wedding
  • Arranged Marriage
  • Boardroom Romance
  • Blackmail
  • Revenge
  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Baby on the Doorstep
  • Emotional Rebirth
  • Bait and Switch
  • Reunited Lovers
  • The Bet
  • Secret Baby
  • Fake Engagement/Fake Marriage
  • Amnesia
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Redemption
  • Secret Romance
  • Cinderella
  • Stranded
  • Forced Proximity
  • Charity Auction
  • Road Trip
  • Endangered Reputation


  • Boss/Employee
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Matchmaker
  • Tycoon/Billionaire
  • Reunited Lovers
  • Bride
  • Sheikh
  • Cowboy
  • Bad Girl/Rich Boy
  • Love Triangle
  • Different Worlds
  • Older Brother’s Best Friend/Best Friend’s Little Sister/variations
  • Ugly Duckling
  • Troubled Marriage
  • Long Lost Love
  • The One Who Got Away
  • Girl/Boy Next Door
  • Right Under Your Nose
  • Nanny/Governess
  • Caretaker
  • Protector/Woman in Jeopardy
  • Tortured Hero
  • Reformed Player/Rake
  • Athlete/Sports
  • Spinster
  • Spy
  • Highwayman/Outlaw
  • Orphan
  • Fallen Woman/Courtesan


  • Fling
  • One Night Stand
  • Wrong Bed
  • Intimate Strangers
  • Friends With Benefits

Yes, these are tried and true storytelling devices. Your job as a writer is to take the tried and true and put some fresh new twist on it. If you follow the general guideline that your primary character is someone readers can identify with, the love interest is charming, and the relationship seems impossible until the two characters fall in love and the book ends happily, you can write just about anything else you want.

Romance as a genre is wide open. Readers are voracious and always on the hunt for new authors, and new series. The potential to earn a great living is at hand. But you have to work at it.

Next time: more on the genre specific

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