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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

Behold, a result of all the books I have gobbled up in my humble 19 years of life.

Obviously, these are not all the tropes, but some of the most common/iconic ones. Enjoy, reflect on your favorite tropes, and happy Galentine’s/Valentine’s!

7 – SIBLING’s Best Friend/Best friend’s Sibling

scene from Bridgerton on Netflix
Shondaland / Netflix

Assuming that the characters have known each other for a while (better if they’ve known each other since childhood), a big highlight would be the shift in perspectives when both characters are to see each other as romantic interests, as well as how they would break the news to the sibling/ best friend once they do start dating. However, as someone with a sibling, this trope can make me feel uncomfortable at times.

6 – Forced PRoximity

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan since I would rather just read fake dating, but I understand how it could be exciting; especially as the characters begin to get comfortable with each other and start exploring the possibilities of something more.

5 – Forbidden Love

titanic im flying scene
Paramount Pictures

The trope of some of the most famous romances of all time (Romeo and Juliet or Titanic), the thrill that comes with it always keeps the reader on their toes. A major part that readers usually anticipate is also the big reveal: the reaction of other characters, how they will navigate the backlash or (rare) support, and if they’re even going to stay together. Basically, there’s a lot at stake and you never know until the last minute.

4 – Slow Burn

A romance plot without slow burn may not be the worst, but the best romance plots are always slow burn (in my humble opinion). It is a risky trope: if done well, it essentially becomes character studies intertwined with romance, but if done horribly, it’s draggy, frustrating, and will likely make the reader give up on the book as a whole.

3 – Fake Dating

The epitome of forced proximity, fake dating also poses as a somewhat unrealistic twist to an otherwise mundane romance plot. This trope instantly hooks you in with how the characters find themselves in this situation in the first place, and the ultimate build-up to when they must end their arrangement but – oh no! they don’t want to – is always something that teases you throughout the read. It is also extremely versatile depending on the nature of why fake dating was needed in the first place: a harmless prank? Mutual benefits? A political ploy because we are in the hunger games, and need sponsors to survive? The possibilities are endless.

2 – Friends to Lovers

Essentially the opposite of enemies and lovers, and a more mellow but equally good alternative. The most realistic trope, and leaves lots of room for plot development as characters navigate their feelings for each other. It’s also the safest trope, and not much can go wrong with it. Personally, it’s an excellent break from the more intense plots and always leaves me with a warm, fuzzy feeling to simmer in my chest the rest of the day.

1 – Enemies to Lovers

There is so. Much. Potential. From the early stages of why they hate each other (past history? Forbidden love? Miscommunication?) to the realization that they might actually like each other, to the final get-together, there is so much to explore about their dynamic as their relationship charges through each stage. The “enemies” part naturally brings an element of external conflict and the “to” part introduces internal conflict as characters start to like each other is also key to keeping a plot interesting. Obviously, the chemistry throughout is always simply elite.

Kelly Luo

Washington '26

Hi! I'm Kelly, an international first-year student at the UW from Shanghai, China! I love looking at social issues through pop culture, and in my free time, you can usually catch me eating Asian food or reading trashy web novels.