Favorite Tropes & Tropes That Play Well Together
When you subsist on a healthy diet of fanfiction, you’re bound to pick up a few favorite tropes before long (if you’re anything like me, that is!). I’m a self-proclaimed trope connoisseur. I’ve spent many long years hanging out in fan communities online, falling in love with story tropes!
As I made the transition from reader to writer, one thing I noticed about tropes was how some play quite well with others. I became enthralled with cramming as many into my trope grab bag as possible without riding my trope train into cliche or satire territory. I’ve always viewed tropes as a pillar to build a story on. Once you play around with which tropes pair well together, you end up with a blended harmony as good as wine and cheese or peanut butter and chocolate.
I have a long list of story tropes I love. Relationship dynamics like friends or enemies to lovers, fake relationship shenanigans of any kind, forced proximity, slow burn, and pining really make me savor a couple falling in love. When there’s only one bed? Yeah, you can bet I’m clutching the book closer with a big grin on my face. All of these tropes pull on emotions as you read a story. These (sometimes silly) situations we find characters twisted into help us connect to the characters as they face these wild struggles. I really love putting a character through something and finding out how they handle it.
Tropes are often called cliches, but I like to think of them as building blocks to stack. Sometimes they are short, one-off situations in a story that become stepping stones to the next stage in a relationship between the characters. Sometimes the trope is a deeper theme that has a bigger impact on the overall story. They can play off each other in fun ways that can make you smile and pack an emotional punch when it ties to the context of the story.
For my latest story, [Love] Overwrite Command, I knew that it would center around a fake relationship, and from that starting point I looked for more tropes to add in to thread my story together. After writing a full length and novella length rivals to lovers stories, I went for friends to lovers to give my characters some history of closeness. Since I was already bringing that history of friendship to the table, I had to toss some pining into the mix to make it that much sweeter when Oliver and Micah get together and as a way to complicate their time as fake boyfriends with attraction and feelings. I just couldn’t resist! By combining these three tropes together—fake relationship, pining, friends to lovers—I set best friends Oliver and Micah down a path that makes them realize what they needed was each other all along.
What are some of your favorite tropes? Which ones do you love to see paired together? Another combination I love is snarky rivals to lovers, forced to be around each other and endure each other’s company, battling against building chemistry.
[Love] Overwrite Command is a fast-paced MM friends to lovers romance featuring fake dating, pining business partners, an overabundance of plants, interesting flavor combinations, a moat, and a HEA. It will be available November 4th on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
Who better to play fake boyfriend than his business partner?
Oliver has carved out a good life for himself with his business partner and best friend from college, Micah. It might not be the life Oliver’s snobby family planned for him, but it’s all his and that’s what matters. He used to let their judgement weigh him down, but after distancing himself he’s happier for it. Oliver and Micah’s dating assistance app is doing well, primed for expansion. But then the invitation—the summons—to a family event comes and throws Oliver’s carefully cultivated balance into chaos.
One thing is certain: Oliver can’t face his family alone. Not when he’s been feeding his family a story about having a boyfriend to keep them out of his hair. He’s screwed if he doesn’t find a guy to bring with him to the event, risking an opening for his family to pick at after he built up his shield against them.
The one person he trusts to play his pretend boyfriend is the only one that’s off-limits, but Oliver ignores the voice of reason. Oliver needs Micah’s help in order to survive this event.
Micah’s been crushing on Oliver since their college days.
It’s never been a big deal. Micah refuses to let his feelings jeopardize anything between them. He hides it well enough from Oliver, especially after they launched their indie startup and Oliver turned into a quieter, more serious version of the guy Micah befriended in college. While Oliver handles the boring parts of their business, Micah spends his days subsisting on far too much coffee, tending to his collection of office plants, and losing himself in lines of code. Even if Oliver’s changed over the years, he’s always given Micah that freedom.
But then Oliver proposes something Micah never expected: the chance to play boyfriends for one night. It’s too tempting to resist and Micah is always willing to help Oliver. Can he keep his emotions in check or will their business partnership suffer the strain?
For a while, Oliver pretends his predicament doesn’t exist. He sinks into hanging out with Micah as if it’s any other night, their dinner spread across his coffee table and the television set to a streaming service in the background. Oliver delays, pushing it off for a little bit longer.
The truth is that he’s afraid Micah might say no.
Staring down the three kissable moles on the side of Micah’s tan neck, Oliver bucks up the courage.
“Hey,” Oliver murmurs. He licks his lips when Micah turns his attention to him. “Um.” Off to a great start, he thinks. Micah waits patiently. Oliver drags a hand through his hair. “I need to ask you a favor.”
“Yeah? What do you need, man?” Micah bumps their shoulders together lightly, quirking a crooked smile.
Oliver is glad Micah’s comfortable enough to touch him. This would go awkwardly if they couldn’t even pretend to hold hands. Oliver moves a magazine and hands over the hidden invitation.
Micah’s eyebrows hitch up when he reads over the names, hazel eyes flicking back and forth between the invitation and Oliver. “Wes is all grown up now, huh?”
It’s a running joke from college, when Wesley used to come by the campus to gloat about going to Columbia Law, like it made him superior.
Oliver pushes out a breath and dives off the cliff he’s been toeing at. “Would you come with me and cover as my boyfriend?”
Micah’s eyebrows disappear into his fringe of wavy curls. “Oh,” he says, quiet like a breath. “Um, yeah. Of course!” Micah’s enthusiasm builds until he’s leaning into Oliver’s space, their noses almost touching. “Whatever you need. I can do that.”
Relief pours over Oliver, cool and soothing. “Thank you.”
The genuine warmth in the smile Micah gives him makes his heart flutter over a beat. Micah pats Oliver’s knee and settles back against the couch, closer than when they ate dinner. He’s practically nestled against Oliver’s side.
“Of course, Oliver. What are friends for if not fake boyfriends in a time of need?” A laugh rolls through Micah and Oliver’s attention inadvertently drops to those three tempting moles on his neck. Micah examines the invitation again. “Wait—shit. Does this mean I’ll need to dress up? Oliver, I don’t own a suit.”
It’s Oliver’s turn to chuckle. “I’m sure I’ll find something you can borrow. You can’t show up in any of your jeans. Do you own a button down that’s not plaid at all?”
Micah levels him with a deadpan stare, but the levity is ruined by the curls hanging in his eyes when he tips his chin down.
Mara Townsend is a bisexual indie author of LGBTQ+ romances. She loves to explore intimate relationship development of the feels-inducing variety to invoke the eternal just kiss plea from the reader, as well as crafting strong platonic friendships with heaps of heart and soul. Her stories showcase diverse representation, love stories with realistic emotions—never mindless fluff—a healthy dose of humor, and a side helping of her favorite tropes.
She hangs out in fan communities online and learned how to write the kind of stories that she’s passionate about through experimental character-driven fiction based in her favorite worlds. When not writing, she can be found soaking up sunshine at the beach, traveling the world to fill in her passport, perpetually collecting plants, and reading as many fake-dating romance books as she can find.