Most romance novels are are centered around popular tropes. This was news to me when I started working on the North Pole series. It makes sense, really. If you’re someone who loves reading about cowboys falling in love, there’s a whole category of books just waiting for you.
Someone once sent me a list of popular tropes, and I even bought a book that’s just a list of tropes, for instance:
Feisty old ladies
Frost fairs (What the…?)
Friends with benefits
And those are just from the Fs.
When I decided to start pitching a series for August, Entangled Publishing’s Gen-X imprint, I first consulted my list of tropes.
Then I started combining them to see what developed:
What if two people are FORCED TOGETHER in a HAUNTED HOUSE and one of them is BILLIONAIRE?
(This was not one of my actual ideas, but go forth and write, if it inspires you.)
I came up with three ideas and fleshed each of them out in pretty detailed synopses. (I love writing synopses. I could do it all day. It’s like putting together a puzzle. Reader, this is what I do FOR FUN.)
All three were rejected.
They liked two of my ideas–with reservations–but ix-nayed the third all together.
I went (happily) back to the synopsis drawing board. I reworked the two maybes. But then I got a little stuck (and probably tired and cranky) about the third.
I still liked it; WHY DIDN’T THEY?
Probably (and I say this not having reread this synopsis in about a year) because it was garbage.
So, I, in a MOOD, decided to peruse the trope list and pick out the most unsavory, unsexy, un-EVERYTHING trope I could find and come up with an idea.
I’D SHOW THEM!
What would I show them? I don’t know. I also wanted to challenge myself–like I said, synopses are my jigsaw puzzles.
So, I kept two of my original tropes–bachelorette auction and one-night stand–and added a third–accidental pregnancy.
As a romance reader, my least favorite trope of all is “pregnant for you,” where the couple’s love is SO POTENT that the woman gets knocked up, like, *snap.* For me, this comes a few personal places: 1) I dealt with infertility for years, so the whole magic sperm thing still stings a bit, and 2) There’s just not a lot sexy about being pregnant or having a baby. You say, “Our love is so powerful we can create beautiful, magical life!” I say, “Welcome to a life of dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and picking Legos out of your feet.”
But as I started working on the outline for KNOCKED-UP CINDERELLA, I started to see how I could make this work for me. It’s not about a woman getting pregnant “for a man.” It’s about two people getting drunk, dancing close, and whoopsie-daisy. It’s about two independent professional adults having to slow down and figure out how to let not one, but TWO new people into their busy lives. It’s about a pair of individuals who’d only had to think about themselves since college, suddenly having to consider someone else’s feeling and opinions.
It’s also about swanky galas and ball gowns.
I think therein lies the real truth: Any trope can be saved by the prospect of a fancy dress.