My For-You-Page (FYP) is a mixture of cute puppies and BookTok—the section of TikTok made of and dedicated to TikTok’s book-loving users. I’ve learned about so many different writers and novels that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise, but what I love most about BookTok is the book tropes. Everyone’s crazy takes on what the best book trope is, what books to read if you like this or that book trope, and some made-up scenes about a book trope. They’re everywhere. But, what are book tropes? In simple words, they are clichés in books, whether it be the main plot or short scenes between the characters. Tropes have transcended writing trends, genres, and generations. Some are apparent and well known, while some are more niche.
Here are some of my favorite tropes from BookTok:
Enemies to Lovers:
This is by far the most popular book trope on BookTok. What I love about it is that it can manifest/present in so many different ways and in so many different genres. From period pieces to fantasy and from sci-fi to young adult (YA), enemies to lovers can be found everywhere. And it’s so fun to read. Take Prince Henry and Alex Claremont-Diaz, from “Red, White & Royal Blue;” they hated each other, and if not for their cake-destroying incident, they would have continued to hate each other. Their incessant banter and the underlying sexual tension were enough to drive any reader mad. I was at the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting for something, anything to happen between them. And when it finally did, it made every romantic interaction between them so much sweeter.
However, this trope can be tricky to write. There’s a fine line between disliking someone while exchanging witty banter and a toxic relationship. “After,” the Wattpad Harry Styles fanfic turned Netflix movie, is a take on enemies to lovers, but not the right kind. Hardin is borderline abusive, controlling Tessa and lying to her in order to get his way. He basically bullies her into dating him.
Slow burn novels frustrate me to no end. From the moment the characters meet, their chemistry becomes apparent and the tension between them rises with each passing chapter. But they take forever to do something about it.
In many cases, slow burn tropes come hand-in-hand with enemies to lovers tropes. For instance, “Pride and Prejudice” is an enemies to lovers romance, but it is also a slow burn romance. Their initial dislike for each other causes them to ignore their chemistry and their true feelings for one another until Mr. Darcy finally gives in and proposes—though not in the best way. Insulting your potential fiancée as you propose is not a good move. But, it worked out in the end. They admit their feelings for each other to themselves and to each other, and they marry and live happily ever after. It only took them the entire novel.
Just like its name states, this trope involves two characters pretending to be in a relationship, for one reason or another, and end up actually falling for each other. Most of the time, this trope is found in YA romances, like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han. Han’s novel follows Lana Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky, high school juniors, who pretend to date to make Peter’s ex jealous and to keep Lara Jean’s best friend from confronting her about her love letter.
Now, from the moment they decide to take on the charade, we’re all rooting for them to end up together. I personally think that they would never have even considered dating each other had it not been for their fake relationship.
The one-bed book trope is very simple: the characters need a place to sleep and they go to a hotel, a friend’s apartment, or even a cabin in the middle of nowhere—the point is that it is the only place for them to sleep—and there is only one bed. Because of this, they have to share the bed, meaning, they have to sleep together.
This is a trope that drives every BookToker crazy. It’s such a small detail, but it drives the tension between the characters through the roof. The one-bed trope is one of the niche ones because it isn’t a huge part of the plot. It can drive the romantic subplot of any novel without affecting or influencing the main plot of the novel. In other words, it can happen or it can not happen, the ending will most likely be the same, the relationship between the characters might still end the same way, but it’s one of the details that make it all a bit more enjoyable.
There are a lot of pieces at play in this particular trope. For starters, the characters must be sleeping in close proximity, whether it be in the same bed or the same house. Then, there must be some emotional distance between the characters for this trope to have the effect we want it to have. And on top of this, whatever the nightmare is about is relevant to why the character is emotionally distant. For example, in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” while on tour, Katniss has a nightmare from the previous year’s Hunger Games. Peeta hears her screams and rushes to comfort her. Katniss and Peeta aren’t close when this happens. He’s trying to be close to Katniss, but she’s closed herself off. After this happens, though, they grow closer, and their bond strengthens.
“Who Did This to You?”
A very niche book trope, but an amazing one. This works best, I think, in enemies to lovers book tropes. Why? Because it breaks down their façade, it breaks down their guard and they show that they care for the other character. It’s especially effective when the powerful alpha breaks down when they see their supposed enemy in pain or hurt. They show they’re not all that callous and cold as they made us all think they are, and it completely shifts their relationship.
As a reader and a writer, book tropes are so fun, they make reading and writing a story more enjoyable and the characters more lovable. What makes stories memorable isn’t necessarily the plot itself or the poeticness of the writing, but the characters and their relationships. Characters are just as human as we are, we want to see them fall in love and get together in the end, we want to see them give their hearts to their significant other, even if they aren’t necessarily realizing that they’re doing it.