Everyone has run into bad romance tropes that make you stop reading or not even start a story because it sounds like a cliche story you’ve read a million times over. Major authors even run into this problem as well. No one is exempt from dealing with these tropes when reading, writing, or watching a movie/tv show. I will be going over a handful of tropes that are written poorly plus used in the wrong way. You need to add life to the characters to get past the tropes. Let’s jump right into the point now.
Number One: Weak MC in Romance Stories
I have read countless stories where the MC is shown as a weak person who has to rely on others like their LI to help them out in a toxic manner. That is not a realistic viewpoint for readers. Most people stick up for themselves in real life. You need to buildup the reason behind why they can’t protect themselves but you need to do correctly. If it’s a sensitive subject then it’s best to do some research on that subject. Otherwise, your story will fall apart before it’s even started. Sensitive Subjects aren’t easy to write which I will go over farther down in this post. As @ShanniiWrites says in her blog post “Bad Romance Tropes that Make Me Stop Reading” do not rely solely on romance to build up your MC. You need to add more mirth to the MC’s personality and background story. I would suggest filling out character sheets so that you can delve deeper into who your character is supposed to be. I would focus on giving the MC a hobby, a flaw, and also moral rule to go by. People want to read about someone who can handle a situation realistically even if it’s a fantasy romance. You have to ask yourself when creating characters “Would you do this? If not, why?”. I would check these links out when making characters. You need to use the resources you are given to make it through to the end. The MC is the focal point of your story so you need to make sure they are developed into a full character. You don’t have to answer all the questions they list in the links below but you should answer the ones that stick out to you the most. The little parts are what makes the big picture flow together in a masterpiece.
Number Two: Mean Girl/Boy Character in Stories
Do not throw a character in just to add drama. @ShanniiWrites makes good points in her blog over this part. The side characters need to be well-rounded enough to comply with the story. Meaning you need to give the mean character a true reason to be angry, jealous, and whatnot. Otherwise, this character just ends up a background character that is only contributing to bad habits when writing mean characters. Trust me, I have stopped reading certain books because this was the problem. It should not just be that the mean character thinks that the love interest will just up out of the blue want to be with the mean character. There needs to some kind of connection between the love interest and the mean character such as ex-lovers, next-door neighbors or best friend’s sibling. This is if you are going with the concept that the mean character is a long time friend. If you are going with the angle that a mean character is a new person that hasn’t known the MC or the LI then there are a few ways to go with that. This person could be a college friend of the sibling that LI has never met but if you go with this route you need to give them a real reason behind their mindset. I mean you have to do that anyway if it’s someone the LI and MC know as well. You have to understand where they are coming from and why it led to this outcome. I would focus on character exercises that will help you make the characters full-rounded. The best thing to do is run through the scenes multiple times because you might get a different outcome than the first time around. I would click on the links above this post to help you out. Think out of the box when it comes to writing. It’s what makes a story unique when you add a realistic twist to the characters in it.
Number Three: Bad Boy/Girl Character Trope
So this trope is overused in so many ways. I feel like every Harlequin book I have read ends up in this trope. It’s hard to not fall into this trope since everyone wants the reader to be happy but it’s you who needs to be happy with your story. Just don’t fall into this trope while you do write your story. Everyone lusts for the bad boy/girl character because they have a mysterious alluring aura to them but sometimes that’s all they have with no actual mirth to them. Also, many people think that the bad boy/girl trope needs to use abusive situations to make the bad boy/girl. That is a very toxic route to go down and should never be used. It glorifies toxic behavior which makes people think that is what the reads like to read. Please don’t go down this route. If you want to make a proper bad boy/girl character then you need to add more to their personality and have a reason for their mannerisms. Also, most stories that involve this trope come with the idea that the bad boy/girl will change their ways if they want to be with the MC. That’s manipulative and toxic behavior all on its own. I have read stories and seen this in reality. It’s sickening behavior that hurts more than it helps. You need to make the bad boy/girl come to terms on their own. They need to have a reason for changing their ways of what they use to know. I’m not saying to not add fights, @ShanniiWrites even brought this part up too. Fights are healthy in a relationship as long as they are not toxic fights. It’s in our nature to bicker with the people we love. Otherwise, you would just bottle up all those emotions and it would cause a toxic explosion in your relationship. What it all comes down to is how you make your characters what you do with them. You are the one in control of the story, not your readers.
Number Four: Sensitive Subjects being used For Drama
This is the biggest problem I have seen in many stories. If you are going to write a story with rape, verbal/physical abuse, and anything that is mentally scarring to someone who has gone through that ordeal, you better do your research. Glorifying traumatic situations can cause more harm to those who have lived it. Do not add this to your story because you want something dramatic to upheaval your MC and LI new relationship. It’s sick and twisted to do so since you are telling other people it’s okay to glorify that type of behavior. If you do go over these topics then you need to make sure it’s done correctly. If you are writing for a younger crowd then you need to make sure you are abiding by the laws of your country. @ShanniiWrites has two blogs that go over consent, sensitive subjects and toxic behavior that goes over what not to do when writing about these subjects. If you are writing for adults it’s the same way but still follows the guidelines that adult books go by. You do not want to teach readers or young writers bad habits of sensitive topics. I strongly suggest you check out both blog posts on this subject to get an understanding of what to do and what not to do when writing.
What it all comes down to when dealing with bad romance tropes is that you just need to add more realistic behavior to the characters in your story. Once, you fix the holes that make the characters come off fake then your story will excel in your eyes and the reader’s eyes. Just remember to research sensitive subjects that can help you in the long run. I hope this helps anyone who decides to read this. Let me know what you think. Please remember this is my opinion on what I have read and seen in other stories. Ask me any questions or as @ShanniiWrites questions on the points.
Links to help you out with your story!
Sensitive Subject Blog Posts and Good Points about Bad Romance Tropes
Make sure your MC is not a Mary-Sue:
Multiple different characters exercise to run your characters through:
Extra Long Sheet of Character Questions
Questions Your Character Hates Getting Asked!
How to - Create & Keep Track of Characters
Tips, tricks & discussions: How to make your story better
Kale's Guide to Well-Developed Characters
Interesting Character Exercises