When perusing my backlist, I’m always a little surprised by the number of books. I’ve written a lot over the past seven years, and with seeming variety. But when I looked at the tropes, my discoveries weren’t at all shocking. I tend to write certain kinds of stories and I write them a lot.
Because I like sorting things and charting things, I decided to break it down. Check out which tropes I like writing and how often. Because Notion is my new favourite thing, I started there, listing tropes I thought might fit at least one of my books.
Then I made charts. This is the Notion List view: (click to enlarge this image)
Using the most popular tropes, I made a donut chart because, c’mon, donuts.
Finally, I put together a nice graphic of the top contenders for this post.
All three graphics show one very obvious fact: Friends to Lovers is my favourite trope. So, let’s start there, with the why I like it so much and what it means for characters in the books I’ve written.
Friends to Lovers
When thinking about my books and the trope Friends to Lovers, Chaos Station immediately comes to mind. It’s the book that started it all and it’s appropriate that it embraces this trope so fully. After all, Chaos Station, and the world Jenn and I created for Felix and Zed grew from roleplaying two life-long friends who eventually became lovers. We loved that story so much, we decided to try writing it again. Knowing you can never write the same thing twice, however, we created new characters, a new world, and a new plot. Then we decided to try a novel.
I’m not sure we appreciated how popular and beloved Chaos Station and the rest of the series would become. These books will always be close to my heart, however, because of that single trope.
The dynamic of friends to lovers has always fascinated me. How two people might cope with the changes in a relationship that is probably already pretty deep. Friends, really good friends, can be careless with each other’s thoughts and feelings because they know they’ll be forgiven. They can disregard personal space because they’ve already seen everything. They will know things about their best friend that no one else, not even other lovers, could even guess.
Adding romance, intimacy and sex to the mix can ruin a good friendship. It could also deepen an already great connection into something transcendental. Think soul mates. Is it worth the risk? Well, that’s why we write the book.
Of course, the rest of the Chaos Station Series continues to embrace the Friends to Lovers trope by not only highlighting a different aspect of Felix and Zed’s relationship in each book, but also pairing up other good friends from the same circle. I’m not going to name them here, even though their eventual relationships couldn’t really be considered spoilers. I mean, I should leave you with some incentive to read the books, right? Also, there are aliens! Very cool aliens.
Also included on the Friends to Lovers list is my personal favourite out of all the books I’ve written, Renewing Forever. Oh, the longing. Not only is this a Friends to Lovers, but also a Second Chance Romance. Basically, I let two friends taste forever, only to rip them apart and keep them apart for years before offering them the opportunity to reunite. What I love about this book in particular—aside from the characters (I adore both Frank and Tom because neither is my usual boy next door) and setting (my home town)—is the journey. I hadn’t intended to include chapters from their childhood, but now I love every one. More, though, it’s how these two became such fully-shaped and capable men, despite their heartbreak, and then were able to bring that version of themselves to a relationship that could only be the richer for their growth.
Who knows if their love would have survived that first, early attempt? Whereas at the end of Renewing Forever, I know, you will know, and Frank and Tom truly know that this time, it is forever.
I put Block and Strike on the Friends to Lovers list because I spent so much of the book building a friendship between Max and Jake before encouraging them to be intimate. Them being friends was important to both men as they had work to do on themselves before they could function supportively in a relationship. Block and Strike is my first solo novel and my first contemporary romance. I credit this book with teaching me how to listen to my characters (thank you, Max!) and it’s a story I actually enjoy rereading even all these years later.
Wrong Direction is on the list for the same reason as Block and Strike. Essentially, Alvaro and Daniel’s relationship stems from the casual friendship between roommates. Same for the Counting series. Marc and Henry aren’t exactly friends, but they are colleagues and have spent a lot of time working together.
Let’s Connect follows a similar trajectory to Renewing Forever. Only this time, it’s two people who almost connected, but didn’t. Not in that way, anyway. They became friends instead. But that initial spark of interest never quite died and when the chance for them to be together finally came around, they had to decide whether, this time, they were ready.
In all of these books, there is intimacy there before the relationship trends toward official. And danger, too, in the question of “Will what we want mess up what we already have?”
That, right there, is the question, isn’t it? The why of this trope. The reason Friends to Lovers is so compelling.
Next post, I’ll delve into the second most popular trope on the list: Second Chances.