Since the creation of Amazons Kindle Publishing Program, romance writers have emerged as the top earners. Why is that? And what are they doing differently than everyone else? Is it the covers featuring shirtless guys that might even make the original Magic Mike himself, Channing Tatum, green with envy? Is it the sex scenes that would make seasoned, HBO writers blush?
Here’s my opinion: what you see is what you get.
With most books, you might not have any idea what is going on. I could not tell you one, single thing about Where the Crawdads Sing except its got a cool title and cover. With romance, you get titles like My Fake Fiance, Fiance on Paper, Her Stand-in Fake Fiance, etc.
Now, you might think, so aren’t all of these books exactly the same? No. But romance writers EXCEL at writing tropes. Its what the genre is good at. But with things like murder mysteries, you couldn’t exactly call the book THE SISTER DID IT or STABBED GIRL because it just doesn’t really work that well. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t romance novels that are mysteries. There TOTALLY are.
But using titles like MY FAKE FIANCE tells writers 1) exactly what the book is going to be and 2) MAKES IT TOTALLY SEARCHABLE. When I typed this in on amazon, there were 1, 000 results. This is why romance writers dominate the charts. You don’t have to guess what the book is going to be about. If you asked me what The Stand was by Stephen King, I couldn’t tell you. King is a world famous author now, so the point of weather or not you could find his books on amazon is moot. But into today’s internet age, having a title that lets people know what the book is about only helps. I’m not saying that the days of the original, literary title is dead, just make sure its at least got some relevance to your books genre.
I’ve noticed a lot of fantasy books have hopped in on this trend. The Paper Magician, The Last Magician, The Magicians. All different books. All by different authors. Easily searchable, and YOU know instantly its a fantasy book.
What’s more, romance teaches you how to write tropes well. In the 2000s, when the vampire craze took over, there was a reason readers were so obsessed. You knew instantly what you were getting. Did some of those books leave a little to be desired? Yes. But was each book the same? No.
Stefan Salvatore versus Edward Cullen doesn’t sound like a stretch. I mean, both ancient immortals, both broody with big foreheads, and puffy hair. They’ve also both got bloody pasts. But the rules of The Vampire Diaries compared to Twilight are completely different. Romance heavily relies on tropes. You take something like fake dating and add your own spin on it.
Sometimes, this falls flat. What good romance does is it take a trope that is known, and it completely turns it on its head. For instance, girl meets guy at a bar. We know where this is going, right?
Winter Renshaw’s Cruel Stranger takes this and expands on that in her own, gut wrenching way. What happens in between is what matters. The trope is just a scenario, how you tell it is the story.
And just so were clear: a trope is not the same thing as a cliche.
A cliche is, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”
A trope is, ” used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.”
Just because a trope is something that recurs a lot, i.e. chosen one, or fake dating, or falling in love with your roommate, or whatever doesn’t mean that it’s cliche. If not handled well, then it can be a cliche. But take a trope and make it into your own thing, and people will love it for what you bring to it. Which is why everyone should read some romance, because romance writers are masters of the trope!
Love n’ stars,