Ah, the beauty of teenage love. So sweet, so pure, so everlasting…said no one ever. And yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find a YA book without any romance. Why is that? Simply because, if done right, romances add that extra spark to your fantasy/science fiction/historical/realistic/etc. fire and can even attract readers that would otherwise only read romance books to read your book.
But wait…hold on! Don’t go to immediately add a love story to your book! If done wrong, your romance can completely destroy the rest of your story as well as cause plot holes and most horrifying of all, be completely pointless. In short, romances can either make or break your story, and since I’m basically done with being negative, today we’re going to be looking at the positive tropes in YA romance, objectively, of course.
Great Trope #1: Friends to Lovers
Try this with: Fake Romance, Marriage of Convenience*
While friends-to-lovers is also a good choice for an actual romance novel, it’s perfect for books where romance isn’t the main genre (so if a friend asked you for the genre, you would say something other than “It’s a love story!”). For one, you don’t need to waste time and energy trying to introduce two characters to each other. That’s already been done. Both friends already know one another, have seen each other at their worsts, and have shared most of their secrets. All you have to do now is build up the romantic feelings. Oh, and there is something timelessly cute about two best friends – people who care about and would do anything for each other – realizing the full extent of their love for one another.
Great Trope #2: Slow Burn Romance
Try this with: Belated Love Epiphany, Enemies to Lovers, Anything is Better with Slow Burn™
When it comes to romance, you can’t just slap two people together and make them kiss. Well, you technically can, but their romance will be devoid of substance and any real chemistry. Slow burn romances solve that problem. Readers want a developed romance with characters that have history, not your spur-of-the-moment decision to form a half-baked smut story. When rushed romances take out the sexual tension that makes ships popular with readers, slow burn increases it and is so much more interesting to read about, especially if you mix it in with other romance tropes!
Great Trope #3: Opposites Attract
Try this with: From Different Worlds, Forbidden Love
Your characters should be flawed. They should have weaknesses, fears, and unappealing traits and habits. And in return, those flaws should help shape their conflicts and in the long run, their character arc – such as a selfish person running for president and learning to be nicer. Your character’s love interest can speed up that character’s development. In the previous situation, maybe the character can fall for an kind, generous person who changes the selfish one for the better. Even if the flaw your character has is not completely resolved, the love interest can balance that character’s flaws and vice versa. (For example, a optimist keeps a pessimist hopeful and a pessimist keeps the optimist down to earth.)
Great Trope #4: Fish Out of Water
Try this with: Forced Proximity, Power/Class Difference
Essentially, this is where a character is stuck in a situation that they have little or no experience in. Despite them being a bit of a fool, they still manage to win the heart of a special somebody. What makes this trope really great is not the aww factor or convenience, but, like the ‘Opposites Attract’ trope, it does wonders to character development. By using this trope, not only do you get to gain more insight to how the character thinks under stress, but the character is inadvertently placed in the perfect place to learn new things. The love interest can also serve as motivation for the character to ‘step up their game’ – someone the character wants to and tries hard to impress.
Great Trope #5: Second Chance at Love
Try this with: First, try to develop a solid beginning romance and a problem that causes a split. You can’t have a second chance without a first attempt.
Seconds are great when it comes to food. Seconds are also great when it comes down to chances – especially second chances at love. Why? Well, for one, the romantic partners most likely know each other extremely well. Much like the friends-to-lovers trope, both sides pretty much know what they’re going to get. Did they break things off years ago thinking it was over? Does it turn out that one or more, having grown a great deal over the separation, still has feelings for the other? And, of course, it goes to show that love can brave through any quibble or hardship, whether internal or external, that prevented the two characters from staying together. Inspirational, and also highly emotion-driven.
Great Trope #6: Jerk With a Heart of Gold
Try this with: Redemption Arc
Though the most famous example involves a hideous beast, a beautiful girl, and a rose, this trope has been steadily gaining increasing popularity over the past few years. Our society as a whole has become a fan of promoting the don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover message and this trope is basically the embodiment of that. By using this trope, you can crack open the pieces of your ‘jerk’ and develop them beyond a traditional romantic cardboard cut-out and potentially make them a more interesting character to read about. Why are they the way that they are? Why are they letting down their walls for a specific character? Do take note: some things may go too far and cannot be justified and the ‘heart of gold’ will no longer be effective.
So, friends, what do you think? Are their any tropes you love that I haven’t included? Any tropes you dislike but I like? I hope you enjoy your day and Happy Easter!
*I could go on and on about the perfectness of this trope except I promised this article would be purely objective.