Em Steven’s has been Miranda and TB developmental editor on many of their cowrites, including the Goldie winning The AM Show.
Em’s insights are spot on, and she not only helps authors whip their manuscript into shape, she does so with kindness, humor, understanding, and more humor.
Take it away, Em!
Tropes and Trends: What are they?
A trope is something that most of y’all probably know about already. We’re talking your Ice Queens, your enemies-to-lovers, your friends-to-lovers, your billionaires, etc. Please enjoy this list of 101 romance tropes.
Knowing your tropes before you start writing is going to make you a smart cookie. Readers have tropes they love and will search out. But this also means they have trope expectations, and knowing those will keep your book from failing to meet expectations.
You might not like labels or boxes for your story and decide you don’t need tropes.
Sure. If you’re writing a novel for yourself, then by all means you can ignore all of this. But if you have a dream of making money as a writer, this is some of the business side you should get acquainted with early on. Like any product, you will need to consider your audience and how best to market to them, and tropes are where you should start.
Do you need to write romance to need to know tropes? Heck no!
If you know what kind of book you want to write, then you should study the tropes in that genre.
This brings us to trends.
Trends are sometimes tropes but not always tropes. A good example is, um… I think it was 2016? The year doesn’t really matter. What matters is SPORTS ROMANCE. Sports romance became HUGE. At one point 37 out of the top 100 in the entire kindle store were sports romances. (This is a romance that takes place within a sport like soccer, hockey, football, etc.).
Sports romance was a trend. It was not a trope. This is because when you hear “sports romance” you only get a small slice of what it will be. But if you see in the blurb, for example, that it’s an enemies-to-lovers sports romance, you know the trope (e-2-l) and the setting (sports things!)
Bend it like Beckham, which made many of us consider playing soccer for nefarious reasons, is a friends-to-lovers (in our minds, because we ship) sports romance. In reality it’s a fish-out-of-water (cultural) and May-December (he’s her coach. I’m sure they aren’t that different in age, but the gap in the movie is enough to create a taboo). It’s also a teacher-student trope, albeit a slightly different version.
If you’re in writing to publish, look at the top sellers in your chosen genre often. What kinds of tropes do you see in the lists? How often do they appear and stay at the top?
Now see if there are books similar to each other in setting or style. Are there a lot of comedies at the moment, but last month it was dark romance? Those are trends, and if you’re a fast writer chasing some money, they may be worth paying attention to.
More About Em:
Em Stevens is a best-selling author of queer fiction.
She currently lives just outside of Raleigh, NC with her people and her animals. Raleigh is so close to her heart she often uses it as a setting in her novels. (Y’all means all!) While she hasn’t been a writer all of her life, she has always been a storyteller. Tall tales from a young age morphed into hyperbole-fueled anecdotes in her early adulthood.
Now she puts stories into novels and is quite thankful for beta readers and editors.
When she isn’t writing or editing, she reads voraciously, steeps herself in horror movies, and tries to get outside every now and again.
Connect with her on her website.