Tropes I’m Trying to Get Perfect, by Zoe Burton

Tropes I’m Trying to Get Perfect, by Zoe Burton

When I began writing, I did not know what tropes were. I’d never heard the term before, and I had been a voracious reader for decades. For those of you who, like me, need a definition, a trope is a recurring theme or motif. It has other meanings, as well, and you can find them here, if you are interested in doing so.

Most, if not all, books have a trope. Sometimes an author will set out to write to a specific trope and sometimes it will just happen over the course of writing the story.

Different genres will typically utilize certain tropes over other ones. At this point in my life, I only read and write romance, so those tropes are what I’m most familiar with.

As I pointed out in the beginning of my post, I didn’t know what a trope was when I started writing. And, as with most new things that are presented to me, I was quite skeptical about them at first. I don’t remember exactly why now; probably because I don’t analyze what I read, as a general rule (I read for entertainment and escape … I rarely need to know the details behind the writing of the story) and it was presented to me by someone who thought themselves better than me. That always gets my back up. LOL

As I read more books and wrote my own, I started to see certain themes popping up and learned that tropes are, indeed, a thing. I still kind of think there’s been a high-falutin’ word applied to a simple concept, but I can simply ignore that and use them anyway. LOL

Back to my research. This Google search shows me at least five websites, mostly author sites, with lists of romance tropes. I have this one, developed by Mindy Klasky, bookmarked and it’s the one I tend to go to when I want to look them up. She has more than 100 listed, though there are many that I will never write.

How does this relate to my books? I had to think about it a while, because some of my books have a clear trope and others do not.

  • I have several forced marriage scenarios. Like many JAFF readers, I love me a good FMS.
  • I have at least one arranged marriage.
  • My book Decisions and Consequences has a matchmaker in it.
  • I’m a fan of instalove and love at first sight, and many of my books have Our Dear Couple falling instantly in love.
  • I have something like five books set at Christmas, and “holiday settings” is an actual trope on this list.
  • In my first book and its sequel (my third book), Darcy and Lizzy have known each other for years and are friends.
  • A MUCH Later Meeting falls under the seasoned lovers/silver fox trope, though neither Darcy nor Lizzy have ever married so I don’t know how “seasoned” they were. LOL

That’s seven tropes off the top of my head for my thirty-plus books alone. 😀 Looking at this list, I’m thinking getting Darcy and Elizabeth trapped together somewhere might be fun to write. LOL  

Now, the title of my post is “Tropes I’m Trying to Get Perfect,” so I should talk about those next. I will confess that I am on a quest to write the perfect forced marriage scenario. I think the ones I have written so far (Darcy’s Unwanted Bride, which is both arranged marriage and FMS; Darcy’s Surprise Betrothal; I Promise To …; Darcy’s Uneasy Betrothal; and Darcy’s Christmas Compromise, to name a few) have been decent. Of those, I think Unwanted Bride might be the best. However, it could be better. It was sort of dark, but I could have made the consequences more dire. I also could have them not fall in love as quickly as I did.

About that … I have been thinking about how hard it is for me to write Our Dear Couple dealing with misunderstandings and miscommunications. I’m not one hundred percent certain why this is, but one of my Strengths is Harmony. I need everyone in my circle to get along. Apparently, that extends to characters I love; and I do love Darcy and Lizzy. While I have enjoyed many books and unpublished stories that have them pretty much at each others’ throats for 399 pages and in love for five, there are others that have made me want to throw the book on a fire and watch it burn while I dance around it. Sadly, the books have been on a device and not paper books so I was unable to do that. In my opinion, that kind of thing makes one or more of the characters Too Stupid to Live. If I were still judging writing contests, those books would get terrible scores. LOL

Anyway, other tropes I would like to try and/or have written and would like to do better at are Christmas stories. Mine are set around Christmas, but it’s really hard to do more than that with Regency-era stories, because they didn’t even decorate until Christmas Eve back then. To top it off, exchanging gifts was not common. Makes it difficult, let me tell you. LOL

I’m feeling inspired to write another matchmaker tale, as well. Also, I’d like to write another/better silver fox-type book. That one was a lot of fun. <3


I guess I feel like all my books could use some improvement. I’m not perfect, after all. Still, if I could write The Perfect FMS, I could die an accomplished woman. LOL

What are your favorite tropes? Are there any I did not list that you really like to read? Let me know in the comments! <3




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June 28, 2022 10:25 AM

I love a FMS trope and also enjoy time loop/time travel and swaps (gender/wealth/family).

Iris Lim
June 23, 2022 1:36 AM

In general, my trope preferences for JAFF and for original fiction are a little different. The forced marriage, for example, is something I love for D&E because I believe they’re perfect for each other, but can’t say the same about any other couple. It just feels so risky!

My favorite P&P trope is having D&E be kidnapped together and have to work together to survive. I’d love to read a lot more of those!

Rebecca L McBrayer
Rebecca L McBrayer
June 22, 2022 8:04 AM

I truly enjoyed Darcy’s Unwanted Bride. I don’t usually like dark plots or evil parents in books but I think about this book often and plan to reread it. I like how the terrible situations brought them together and made them stronger. Honestly, my favorite tropes are forced marriage scenarios that come from an accidental compromise. I especially like when Lizzy and Darcy get stuck together with one injured and their caring side is slowly revealed. I prefer a slow burn of them falling in love rather than instant but that could be because my own marriage is a friends-to-love situation on my side. On his, it was quicker. Yes, I was pretty ignorant of his true interest for awhile. Much like Lizzy, though my husband was never arrogant and only had to propose once. ?

June 22, 2022 7:53 AM

I am in the club of not knowing the concept of trope till I started reading JAFF.

My all time fave is Elizabeth is not a Bennet! So much scope for DRAMA!

The one that skevies me out the most is (my apologies) ODC don’t get together till much later. I can honestly say I 99.9% do not read them. MY reading is entertainment/escapism, I want my HEA how I like ’em!

Trope that gives me the worst bellyache- misunderstandings and miscommunication-
If you ever hear someone screaming – Buy a frickin vowel for cryin in a bucket- That’s me. Right after I take the Pepto-Bismol.

I am also a fan of ODC meeting early and with non of the typical Darcy pride, get together. This leaves the drama happen from outside sources.

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 20, 2022 12:39 PM

I’m like you and did not know what the word meant until I saw it used in a review. I looked it up [what would we do without Google] and I was hooked. I eventually created a trope file so I could find books in a particular category more easily… or at least for me. Here are some but not all [you’re lucky] of my list just on Goodreads. I have a Word document with more.

They are as follows:

2nd generation, 2nd wife, a Bennet dies [Mr. or Mrs.], Amish, amnesia, autism-spectrum, dragons, dystopian, fairy tales, fall-injured [broad], fantasy [that can be fairly broad], fms-moc-com [forced marriage scenario-marriage of convenience-compromise], Freaky-Friday, gender swap, Gothic, governess-companion, locked room, love triangle [not my fav, I don’t like Richard in a triangle with D&E], mail order bride, mystery [again broad], not a Bennet [fav], not raised Bennet [fav], NSNJ [the not-so-nice-Jane wasn’t always a favorite at first but I enjoy them now. The nastier the better], ODC wed other [GRRR! Not a fav], paranormal [broad, someone had powers or abilities, ghosts, spirits, sprites, or godmother, etc. again fairly broad], Pygmalion, Ramsgate, shifter-werewolf, sifi, time travel-time slip, vampire, witches-enchantress.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while.  There are so many that I have not mentioned. Some may not consider these tropes but this is how I categorize my stories. LOL! I love JAFF. You never grow tired of the many different ways to bring such a famous couple together. However, you did mention where you had read 99% of a story before the couple came together. GRRR! I HATE that. I want page-time with D&E. That is the whole point of reading JAFF. I once read a story where they didn’t get together until the LAST paragraph. I wanted to scream when I flipped the page and it went to the author’s notes at the end. I had no idea it was over. I may have popped a blood vessel. Good grief. I was furious.

Thanks for sharing this post with us. Blessings on all your hard work. 

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 20, 2022 4:31 PM
Reply to  Zoe Burton

Yes, that is the one. I thought JDK did a great job. I could so believe Jane and Elizabeth traveling west to find love. This is where Elizabeth wrote letters for Jane and Darcy wrote letters for Bingley and they fell in love via the letters but didn’t know until later of the switch. That was hilarious.

Georgina Peel and Harriet Knowles also teamed up for a four-book Mail-Order Bride and Prejudice Series. I have not read them.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
June 20, 2022 10:45 AM

I never knew what a trope was! I like the recurring theme of love. Scenes like Lizz y and Darcy reading each other!lol

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