Romantic Comedy Tropes in Boots & Backpacks

He chose poorly.

(Crossposted from Babblings of a Bookworm)


As a pop culture geek, I’m a sucker for tropes. What’s a trope? Well, according to the supreme time-sucking site TV Tropes:

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.

Tropes are universal across all media types – mythology, literature, TV, movies, comic books, video games, etc. As consumers of media, we recognize tropes, either consciously or subconsciously, and form expectations about the characters and the plot. In a genre as formulaic as that of the romantic comedy, certain tropes get used over and over again, but fans of that genre keep coming back for more.

Jane Austen used tropes masterfully in her novels. Pride and Prejudice is considered by many to be the grandmommy of the modern romantic comedy. It is certainly the grandmommy of my novel Boots & Backpacks! So what beloved tropes from P&P can you expect to see in B&B? Here are a few:

Character Tropes:

  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky – Yes, my hero is named William Darcy and he is quite the eligible bachelor! But he does have a few issues to work through: he’s a spoiled snob, he’s obsessed with the family fortune, and he distrusts basically everyone he meets, especially women.
  • Spirited Young Lady – Elizabeth Bennet: as unimpressed with Mr. Darcy upon first introduction in 2014 as she was in 1813.
  • Arch Enemy – Darcy’s arch enemy in Pride and Prejudice is George Wickham, but in Boots & Backpacks, the gossip columnist Gwen Younge fills the role.
  • Grande Dame – Catherine De Bourgh, grand with or without a title.

Plot Tropes:

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension – So much banter! The sexual tension in Boots & Backpacks starts out especially belligerent, but over the course of the story, our dear couple learns to get along.
  • Will They or Won’t They – The staple of all romantic comedies! Usually it’s a foregone conclusion that they will, but the fun is seeing how and when they do.
  • Inter-class Romance – Darcy’s a super-rich blue blood; Elizabeth is middle-class.
  • Act of True Love – In P&P, we know Darcy really loves Elizabeth when he drops everything to search for Wickham and Lydia in the seedy parts of London, and then, when he finds them, foots the bill to make them marry. And he never takes the credit or even wants Elizabeth to know about it, lest she feel indebted to him. Sigh.

Obviously, I can’t reveal what the Act of True Love is in Boots & Backpacks! But trust me, there’s a good one.

Now, just because we form expectations based on the tropes we recognize doesn’t mean those expectations are fulfilled. Sometimes an author may set up a trope only to subvert it. A bait and switch, if you will. Think of a banana peel that no one slips on, or a damsel in distress who saves herself. So don’t think that you know everything you need to know about Boots & Backpacks. There are quite a few surprises!

If you, like me, can’t get enough tropes, see the full TV Tropes list for Pride and Prejudice, as well as the section on romantic comedies. But be careful! One click will lead to many!

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