I recently saw a TV programme where the presenter was analysing the various RomCom movies and he mentioned Tropes.
Now this was a term I’d never heard of before, so decided to look it up and see if it made sense when applied to novels that were RomComs too – and it does…
So here are the Tropes for you, and you can then see how they apply in this particular book and any others as you read them.
- The Flawed Protagonist Seeking Salvation
The atom of the rom-com is the protagonist. The bulk of romantic comedies are predicated upon the indisputable charm of an unrefined woman. Perhaps she’s an impassioned lawyer in frumpy clothes or a Prince-loving sex worker with a heart of gold who can’t tell her salad fork from her dinner fork. Beneath that tough facade, you’ll find a vulnerable soul looking for her match, even if she doesn’t know that’s what she needs. Love absolves financial snafus.
Here the female character is a PR person.
- The Meet-Cute
Now our woman has to meet her future mate. According to The American President, While You Were Sleeping, Jerry Maguire, What Women Want, Miss Congeniality, and quite a few others, your best chance to find love is at work. The work is actually secondary to the dating possibilities. This is a particularly convenient storytelling device — dating coworkers is historically tricky in the real world. The nexus of plausibility and relatability is the perfect point of departure for rom-coms. Maybe there’s an inherent power structure to overcome. Maybe the guy has to go back on his word, thereby submarining both professional and personal connections. Maybe the relationship has to be a secret. Maybe they’re work adversaries who find love in a hopeless place. And all of these possible plots don’t even account for the bait-and-switch in rom-coms where the workplace relationship isn’t even the pairing we’re rooting for.
In this novel the guy is a Hockey player and she has sworn off them due to past bad mistakes. The relationship needs to be kept a secret from her boss as otherwise she would be pressured to use him for business purposes.
- The False Start
If the relationship is founded upon an unlikely circumstance, it only follows that there would be at least one moment of dissolution. There’s such a huge gulf to bridge! Ultimately, the couple will find its rhythm two-thirds of the way through the movie. By this point, the best and least predictable elements of the movie are over. The last section is a perfunctory 25- to 35-minute period during which the couple we have already fallen for realize they’ve fallen for each other. More time should probably be dedicated to understanding how these people forgive each other. No one would fault these people if they needed some time for reflection.
Yes, there is a problem to be resolved here in this book – otherwise there really wouldn’t be a good story would there?
- The Grand Epiphany, and the Grand Declaration
After the relationship temporarily stalls when one party makes an idiotic mistake, he or she who commits the error suddenly realizes that they cannot be without the other. As soft pop music plays, the epiphany strikes. This is when the movie’s momentum picks up again. The long autumn of the couple’s separation is coming to an end. We can feel the reconciliation coming. It’s incumbent upon the aggressor to assess his own loneliness, inevitably leading to the realization that he had been mistaking general discontent for a specific void. Finally aware that the void disappeared while the hapless woman was in his life, he has to run out immediately to win back the love of his life.
The grand epiphany is essential because it gives way to the final act: the grand declaration, arguably the apex of all rom-coms and the greater world of cinema. The elite rom-coms include a monologue a 14-year-old girl will want to memorize with the hope that something similar may be uttered to her one day, or that she’ll have the chance to deliver such a soliloquy.
So we reach the happy ending.
Now you may be saying that I didn’t enjoy the book, well I did, but once you realise just how much of a formula there is to a RomCom, you, or me, in this case, will start looking for a deviation from the norm. And, I’m afraid that there really wasn’t in this book. The style of writing was as you would expect and there were no surprises or unexpected events.