Paranormal Romance and Fantasy Romance Tropes by Sarina Dorie

This week on ShadowSpinners we welcome Sarina Dorie, creator of the popular series, Womby’s School for Wayward Witches.

 

Hades & Persephone: To the Underworld

 

Paranormal Romance and Fantasy Romance Tropes

 by Sarina Dorie

What is a trope?

A trope is a plot device. All genres have them. When done well, a trope feels natural and necessary to the plot. When it isn’t done well, it feels contrived or unoriginal. It isn’t that a trope is inherently bad, although some people are very opinionated about the ones they love or hate.

In every genre, readers expect them. In romance, the trope is generally the element that helps the hero and heroine meet or keeps them apart. The thing that makes a trope work is subverting the readers expectations so that the writing feels fresh and original.

 

What’s an example of a trope?

For example, one of the tropes of Romeo and Juliet (which is a love story, not a romance in case you didn’t realize it) is the idea of enemies to lovers or rival houses. This is the same trope in Westside Story. It’s used in many other movies, books, and television shows.

 

In Twilight, the idea is used with vampires versus werewolves with the protagonist being caught in the middle. After Twilight was published, this trope was used a lot in paranormal romance, specifically the rivalry of vampires versus werewolves. It became an easy (and sometimes lazy) way of creating conflict. For years every paranormal fantasy novel I picked up had rivalries between vampires and werewolves. Writers kept writing it because readers kept reading it.

But every plot was the same: He was a misunderstood vampire with a dark past. She was a werewerewolf/werebear/werepanther trying to avenge her clan. They were mortal enemies, but the only thing they could think about was each other.

 

The trope got old. The conflict felt contrived. People made fun of the genre. This is probably why What We Do in the Shadows worked so effectively. It subverted the viewer’s expectations. The vampire versus werewolf rivalry focused more on the bromance of the story. The actual love story/romance was the B plot (secondary plot) for one of the other characters. This B plot also explored tropes taken to their extreme. And of course, there was the unforgettable line from this movie “werewolves not swearwolves” that lives on in my memory forever.

 

What are examples of your favorite tropes?

That’s just me and my preferences. That trope of enemies to lovers or rival houses lives on in paranormal romance.  When done well, it doesn’t feel contrived, but there are other tropes that other people don’t like because of the execution. Some of my personal favorites that I use in my fantasy and science fiction romance novels are:

Beauty and the Beast

Fairy Tales

Enemies to Lovers

Love Triangles

Sassy heroine

Amnesia

Tragic past

Was it a lie? (disguise/undercover love)

Breaks her heart to save her

Noble rescuer steps in because she’s dating Mr. Wrong

 

Anyone who has ready my Womby’s School for Wayward Witches Series is going to recognize some of these. The first two tropes work especially well in the kind of fantasy and science fiction I write. Sometimes my monster/beast is the pretty human or an unassuming Prince Charming is the real beast. I already like fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, so fracturing a fairy tale worked well for me like in my novel WRATH OF THE TOOTH FAIRY coming out in the summer of 2019. Think about Shrek and why it did so well. The movie completely subverted our expectations.

 

How do you use a trope?

Everyone writes differently. I don’t usually set out to write a trope, it just happens. In the editing phase or partway through writing, I try to be aware of elements that might not be original and subvert expectations. If you are writing a horror novel, mystery, historical, thriller, etc. my favorite tropes might not be the tropes you and your audience are drawn to. Figure out what works for you.

 

How do you find tropes appropriate for your genre?

Do some research. A while back I found some lists of romance tropes. None of these are complete. There are more I find myself using that aren’t on these lists, but it gives you a starting point to think about.

145 Romance Tropes

https://goteenwriters.com/2015/12/16/145-romance-tropes/

All the Kissing’s Favorite Romance Tropes

https://allthekissing.com/2018/02/atk-romance-tropes/

Romance Tropes: What Words for Romance Readers

http://arghink.com/2015/10/romance-tropes-what-works-for-romance-readers/

Sarina Dorie has sold over 150 short stories to markets like Analog, Daily Science Fiction, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s IGMS, Cosmos, and Abyss and Apex. Her stories and published novels have won humor contests and Romance Writer of America awards. She has over two dozen books available on Amazon including her steampunk romance series, The Memory Thiefand her collections of short stories like Fairies, Robots and Unicorns—Oh My!are available on Amazon, along with her series Womby’s School for Wayward Witches.

You can find info about Sarina Dorie’s short stories and novels on her website:

www.sarinadorie.com

The best way to stay in contact with Sarina Dorie, hear about what she is writing, know when she has a new release, or books offered for free on Amazon is by signing up for her newsletter.

https://mailchi.mp/sarinadorie/authornewsletter

 

 

Five Common Mistakes Among Writers

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By Sarina Dorie

When we go to a job interview, we wear our best suit, come with a list of references, and might even remember to put on deodorant. At least, we do if we want the job. When we format a manuscript, self-edit a novel, or polish a book before sending it off to an agent or editor, we strive to present it as though we are professional writers who know what we are doing. At least, we do if we want to be published. Whether a seasoned writer, or someone just starting out in the writing process, there are weaknesses we don’t always recognize in our skills. We get into ruts with grammar, formatting or stylistic “rules” we learned early on in high school writing classes that are bad practices in professional writing. Learn the common mistakes so you can recognize when you make these in your writing so you can avoid them.

 

Five Common Mistakes

 

  1. The manuscript isn’t in manuscript format

Short stories have a particular format and novels have different requirements. Additionally, some publishers have very specific variations from the standards that a submitter must be aware of. The number one cause listed on editor, agent and magazine websites for writing to be rejected is not reading the guidelines.

 

  1. Grammar errors and inconsistencies

Sometimes a simple spell check will suffice. Other times, one needs to look up rules that are unfamiliar. Some rules of grammar are meant to be broken, but it is important to start with foundational knowledge and break a rule consistently if one chooses to do so. Classes, critique groups, peers and beta readers can help.

 

  1. The mechanics of the story are broken

Sentence structure is unvaried, past and present tense rules are not consistently followed, or there are various typos not covered under grammatical errors that make the manuscript a chore to read. It is common to find long sections of dialogue without dialogue tags, setting information lumped together, chunks of unbroken interior monologue or sensory information in one section, and long expanses of exposition in others. The story might be all, or large sections of, telling.

 

  1. The story itself is broken

The premise is unbelievable, the idea is trite or overdone, or the plot has no story arc. Maybe the characters are so unsympathetic the reader can’t get into the story or the writer has gotten a vital piece of information wrong that affects the story. This can be pretty important if an author is writing a paranormal romance with werewolves and the characters and plot don’t reflect accurate, wolf-like traits.

 

  1. The story is boring

This usually means it lacks conflict. It might also be because there is no hook in the beginning, or it could be because the reader doesn’t understand or care about the characters’ motivations, feelings or situation. The reader needs to be emotionally invested. Sure, it might just be because the reader isn’t the author’s target market, but even romance readers can be persuaded to read a mystery if they care about the characters or a mystery reader can read a romance if they are invested in the plot.