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May 8, 2008

Classic Romance Plots

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Plus Classic Romance Plots

The secret of writing a great romance is to take a classic plot and twist it to make the story unique. Here is a list of the classic plot tropes used in romances:

1. Secret Baby – a pregnancy results from a romance and the father doesn’t know about it.

2. Cinderella – a rags to riches story.

3. Beauty and the Beast – one of the main characters is physically marred in some way.

4. Good Girl/Bad Boy – opposites attract. This can also be reversed with a bad girl/good boy.

5. Stranded – a couple is stranded together and the enforced intimacy leads to more.

6. Marriage of convenience – an arranged or forced marriage leads to love.

7. Family feud – think Romeo and Juliet.

8. Mistaken Identity – one of a couple isn’t who he or she appears to be on the surface.

9. Lady and the Cowboy – a class difference sets a couple apart.

10. Secret – a secret stands between romance.

11. Twins – lots of possibilities here.

12. Kidnapping – an abduction.

13. Business competitors – two people fighting for the same prize and only one can win.

14. Friends to Lovers – a friendship leads to more.

15. Masquerade – pretending to be someone else.

16. Amnesia – where one of the characters has lost their memory.

Which type of plot is your favorite? The one you most dislike? Have I missed any from my list?

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  1. Adelle Laudan

    I don’t have a particular favorite. Any of them, done well. Happy T13!

  2. Debora Dennis

    Always hated the secret baby story lines, but I’m a sucker for “lady and the cowboy and stranded” type themes.

    I think you hit them all!

  3. Amy Gallow

    You haven’t covered irreconcilable lifestyles
    ie. he’s a wanderer and she can’t leave her roots (“Me and Bobby Magee” is an example); she’s a peacenik and he’s a Special Forces sodier: etc., etc., which are among my favorites.


  4. MsMenozzi

    The funny thing is, most any story can be broken down into these themes – not just romances.

    That said, I reckon my faves are “Friends to Lovers” and “When you least expect it”. You know, when you’ve got your heart so set on a goal that you’re oblivious to everything else? Or when random chance/Fate/deus ex machina steps in to give you a little nudge in the right direction, somehow? (Like me and the hubby, for example.)

    I confess I don’t know much about romance as a genre, but it seems that you’ve covered most of the themes I’ve seen in my lifetime, anyway. ;)

    Interesting list, though.
    Happy T13!

  5. December

    HOW funny – I was just thinking about this lately!

    I LOVE this list!!!

    I heard that most storys can be broken into 2 plots. “A stranger came to town” or the opposite
    “We went on an adventure.”
    Interesting, huh?

  6. Jennifer McKenzie

    Friends to lovers is probably my favorite. The idea that someone could be “right” in front of you.
    And mistaken identity is awesome.

  7. Debbie Mumford

    Great list! It’s fun seeing them lined up like that.

  8. Tempest Knight

    Gotta love romance! ;) Happy TT!

  9. Nina Pierce

    I love the cowboy/lady stories and the friends to lovers. I’m not so big on secret babies. But the twins always offers great twists to stories.
    Great list. Happy TT13!

  10. Alice Audrey

    Don’t forget Jepardy/Bodyguard – one of the couple is in danger and the other is helping him or her out of it.

  11. Alice Audrey

    Dang! Could you edit that to put the “o” in for me?

  12. Cinde

    Great List! I love it. Mine is “nursemaid syndrome” one is hurt the other has oot nurse back to health…

  13. pussreboots

    It really depends on the author and the way the story is told. They are all annoying cliches and can all be turned into well told stories. Happy TT.

  14. Heather

    I’d have to say the secret babies are my least favorite. Great list, Shelley!

  15. julia

    Add me to the lady and the cowboy fans. Most of the stories I write have class problems in them. And of course I love to read or watch stories that deal with that theme.

    Lately I’ve been more and more attracted to the dark character who longs to be redeemed – another twist on the Beauty & The Beast thing, I think. Where the deformity is emotional, rather than physical. Like Sir Guy of Gisborne, for example ;-)

  16. Bethanne

    People don’t always get that it’s the characters with the possibility of a unique plot twist that makes a story GREAT! All the good ones have been done! And will be done again…because I’m doing them! *bwahahahahaha*

  17. Shelley Munro

    I’m not big on secret babies either, yet one of my recent releases had a secret baby element – it was so secret no one knew who the father was since the mother had died and refused to say.

    One of my favorites is friends to lovers, and my upcoming release, Lovers at Last has this theme. I also quite like marriage of convenience, which can be difficult to pull off in a contemporary setting, and where a couple is stranded together.

    I’d forgotten about woman in jeopardy.

  18. Susan Helene Gottfried

    Well, when you break it down like that, it loses some of its magic!

    Which is exactly why writers need to break it down.

    Btw, we were watching High School Musical and halfway through, the Tour Manager says to me, “Did you know this is the same plot as Grease?”

    I was quite proud of my computer geek.

  19. Gina Ardito

    I really dislike secret baby themes. And of course, there’s also My Fair Lady, falling in love with a new creation.

  20. Shelley Munro

    Susan – my hubby surprises me all the time with writing stuff. He’s soaked up way more than I thought. And all the time I thought he was humoring me when I talk about my writing. :grin:

    Gina – that’s a good one to add to my list.

  21. Chloe Devlin

    Those are all good. I love that every writer could take the same basic plot and come up with a totally different story. :lol:


  22. Ann Bruce

    In the hands of a good writer, any of them will work for me.

  23. writier reading

    These are funny and helpful as someone wrote, these can also apply to other fiction genres.