Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Trope or Not to Trope

Trope. From the Latin tropus, from Greek tropos turn, way, manner, style, trope, from trepein to turn.

"A common or overused theme/device. A cliche."

Well, I hope it isn't always a cliche! Some are better than others, for sure, but there are still plenty of themes in romance that never seem to go out of style. Secret babies. Variations on classic fairy tales. Werewolves and vampires in paranormal romance.

My personal favorites are the reunited lovers theme and (don't judge me!) the abused/traumatized woman that has to learn to trust again and only the hero is able to scale the walls protecting her heart. I love the reunited lovers idea because it's all about second chances and that fills me with hope. The second I love because it shows the healing power of love. If the hero shows lots of patience and tenderness in winning the heroine's heart, I'm a total goner.

Yet sometimes an author is able to put a new twist on a theme that breathes life into it, revitalizing the whole storyline. There's one book that I can think of where the author turned that second "trope" I mentioned on its head and made it work so well that I was glued to every page. JR Ward gave us Zsadist's story in Lover Awakened, where he was the one having to overcome a traumatic past of abuse and learn to love and trust his mate, Bella. It's one of my favorite romance books of all time, and I think it's all the more powerful because Ward flipped that trope into something unforgettable.

Do you have a favorite trope to read or write about, or maybe one that's your personal pet peeve? And do you have a book in mind when you think of it?  I love it when an author can take a well-used theme and make it fresh again, or write it in a way you've never seen before.


Wynter Daniels said...

I'm with you on the wronged/abused heroine. In fact, I'm working on an outline with that trope now. I love reading many tropes, too. There's a reason they keep showing up. They work!

Michelle Polaris said...

I'm also a fan of reunited lovers, lovers at cross purposes and the abused HERO needing healing by his lovers. Love Zadist's story. The biggest key to making any trope fresh for me is the vibrancy of the charactres. The plot doesn't have to be new, but the protagonists need to be alive on the page.

Callie Croix said...

Hey, Wynter. I really do love that one, and I'm not sure why, but I suspect it's because the hero needs to really shine to win the heroine over.

Michelle, Zsadist's story is the only one I can think of where the abused hero needs to be healed/saved, but if you've read others with that same story line, let me know what they were!

Dalton Diaz said...

I am such a sucker for reunited lovers and a tortured hero!

Try Sherilynn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series if you haven't already. I'm new to her work, so can't speak for the other series she puts out. And I think that's plural.

I love Z's story, too. All of them, really.