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Speed Dating with the Wordsmiths

It’s Valentines day, a day to celebrate St. Valentines and his love for Christ and the poor, but also romantic love in the secular context. In honor of that, let’s pose a hypothetical. Let’s say you’re on a date with one of these eight lovely writers. (This is mostly a hypothetical as two of them are happily married to their spouses, two others are in committed relationships, but the others? 🤔) Over dinner and drinks, you want to get to know them so what do you ask them?

Well, they are writers and readers. With the dividing nature of ship wars, they’re bound to have some sort of feelings about character relationship tropes. None of them are romance writers, but there’s love and ships in every genre. So let’s learn more about the Wordsmiths.

*Grabs a microphone and shoves it in their face*

Hello. Ship tropes. Let’s get into it.

Catherine, welcome.

What is your favorite relationship trope?”

Catherine: “…I don’t think I have one. Romance isn’t really my thing, in reading or writing, but maybe pure love? Where the love isn’t based on worldly things but more of seeing the beauty in each other’s souls.”

Little: “And what’s an example of that?”

Catherine: “I gotta go to my favorite fiction author for this: Beren and Luthien, Arwen and Aragorn.”

Little: “Two hits for Tolkien. That tracks for you. And what’s a trope you absolutely hate?”

Catherine: “Anything annoying, honestly. If there’s a romance plotline that takes the focus away from the main plot line just to add in that romance - nope. But I think what really gets me, something I hate, is anything that involves someone abusive who doesn’t change but still gets someone to ‘fall in love’ with them and we’re supposed to cheer for it at the end. I can’t do that.”

Little: "No approval for abuse, folks. Thanks for your time."

Catherine would like to note that while she doesn’t write or read much romance, she is responsible for the creation of the “shipping sheets” that track who is being shipped with who for her own WIP and two DnD campaigns she’s part of.

Lauren, welcome to the hot seat. First question, what is your favorite relationship trope?”

Lauren: “Barely act couple-y in public but EVERYONE knows they’re together/in love/should be together.”

Little: “Oooo, the obvious yearning. Love it. What’s an example of that?”

Lauren: “The interesting part of every romance arc and most side character ships because we don’t have too much time to focus on them (I focus on them and I love them)” Little: “And what about one you hate?”

Lauren: “The ‘I would die for her’ ‘you’ve known her for two days.’

OR when there’s unnecessary bantering/conflict to make them more ‘enemies-to-lovers’ because heaven forbid a couple is attracted to and likes each other from the get go.”

Little: “I’m not going to fight you the enemies-to-lovers because that one does have to be well done. Thanks for answering.”

Paige, thanks for being here. Newly married, living that first year, honeymoon stage life. What relationship tropes do you love?

Paige: “Best friends to lovers/allies to lovers (idk if that’s a thing?).”

Little: “It’s totally a thing. And if it’s not, you should make it a thing.”

Paige: “I love relationships with a solid foundation, where people actually like one another and enjoy being together. (None of that hating your spouse crap, please.)”

Little: “What’s a good example of these tropes?”

Paige: "Fitzsimmons (Jemma and Leo) from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Talk about an underrated show. 8 seasons of pain and suffering, two best friends, two halves of a whole genius, they go through everything together and their love is just *chef kiss*. Another good one is America and Maxon in the Selection series (Allies to lovers? That’s what I’m calling it.) She basically is at this bachelor-style competition and doesn’t care about getting the prince, so she decides to tell him which girls he should kick out. They become buddies, and then they end up falling in love. I don’t love romance books but I am usually a big fan of the romance subplot.”

Little: "Gosh, Fitzsimmons. SUCH a good ship. And what about one that you hate?"

Paige: “I hate most rom coms that hinge on a misunderstanding that could easily be solved by a conversation, but instead it becomes the entire story conflict because the people won’t listen to each other long enough to resolve it."

Little: “Hello, White Christmas? Paige hates your B plot. Thanks for playing, Paige."

Rob, welcome. What’s a relationship trope you love?"

Rob: “Whatever “how to lose a guy in 10 days” is. Is that enemies to lovers?”

Little: “Hmm… maybe more like deception to lovers? Where the deception is from both of them. It’s a good one. Any tropes you hate?”

Rob: “Anything forced out of left field. I.e. 'Rise of Skywalker' kiss scene. It was dumb and a waste of everyone’s time and money.”

Little: “The man has OPINIONS on the subject, everyone. Be careful, Rob. Reylo shippers are going to come for you. Thanks for your answers.

Kelly, I know you have some thoughts on ships. So what’s your favorite ship trope?"

Kelly: “Competent married partners/established relationships.”

Little: “Yesssssss! So good. We love to see it. What’s your favorite example of this?”

Kelly: “Amy and Rory from Doctor Who is my otp. They work together to solve problems and even when they fight, they are each other’s #1 priority. One of their last lines is ‘Together, or not at all’ as they jump off a roof and it just shows how far they went in their story. I’m not doing it justice but I love them.”

Little: “Rory and Amy are couple goals. Great choice. What about a trope you hate?”

Kelly: “I absolutely hate when a man or a woman is either about to get engaged or married and then suddenly their first love comes back on the scene and they dump the new person for the old. They were about to make a lifelong commitment to this other person and they change their mind after a few days?? Really???”

Little: “Sounds like you’re coming for the Notebook 👀. Thanks for playing.

Grace, welcome. What’s your favorite relationship trope?"

Grace: “I'm really a sucker for friends-to-lovers, maybe it’s a way I've experienced romance or seen relationships in my own life, but I think that relationships that have a strong foundation of friendship are so unique and beautiful in real life and so believable and nuanced in fiction.”

Little: “Can you give an example of this?”

Grace: “Ginny & Harry (in the books, not the movies, lol)/ Percy & Annabeth/ Cadvan & Maerad from the Pellinor Chronicles. I'm also a huge sucker for the almost-but-not quite lovers: characters that you know totally had a thing for each other but are ripped apart due to tragedy and circumstance. Call me a masochist, but tragic romantic plot lines are some of my favorites.”

Little: “Going for the heartbreak, I see. Do you have a favorite example?”

Grace: “Rudy Steiner & Leisel Meminger from The Book Theif. Marco Alisdair & Celia Bowen from the Night Circus. Another trope I am a huge fan of is people kept apart due to social stigma/class and station. I love rooting for the underdogs, and I love a suitor who dreams of someone too lofty for them and resigns themselves to watching and rooting for their true love from afar, only to be joyfully surprised when the affection is finally requited or against all odds the union is approved.”

Little: “Example?”

Grace: “Sybil Crawley & Tom Branson. Remus Lupin & Nymphadora Tonks.”

Little: “Oh, Gosh, Sybil. Break my heart.”

Grace: “I have more.”

Little: “Bring it. I want to know all of them.”

Grace: “I also love couples where one of them is a little awkward and blustery and uncouth and is an easy target for scorn or disapproval from others, but other character comes to see the sincerity and goodness of the character underneath and despite themselves, becomes smitten with the unlikely choice. Some examples are Molesley & Baxter. Sokka & Suki. Lastly, I'm always a fan of married couples who are still so totally in love years into their marriage. We always love to see rep like that. Pretty much any of the married couples from Downton Abbey, so many of them to swoon over.”

Little: “Well, you have some thoughts. What about the ones you hate? Based off the ones you love, I assume you have just as many. Go off.”

Grace: “Love at first sight. I can get attraction at first sight, but I hate when characters are so smitten with each other after one small interaction that they're immediately picturing spending the rest of their lives together or are willing to abandon all else for the sake of the other.

“I really hate when characters' ‘love’ and ‘passion’ cause them to hurt other people, make reckless decisions, or completely forget about everyone and everything else and have tunnel vision for the one person in front of them. (Looking at you Romeo & Juliet/ West Side Story. Yup, even calling you out pretty much every Nicholas Sparks book ever).”

Little: “Oh, the Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story makes me cringe.”

Grace: “Related to the previous, but I hate when two characters ‘miss their chance’ but reconnect after one or both of them are already married and one character tries to convince other character to leave their spouse. Yo, adultery is not cool, even in the name of ‘true love’.”

Little: “You and Kelly should chat.”

Grace: “In general, if I feel like a relationship is more heavily dependent on physical attraction, lust, or reckless passion, it doesn't work for me. I'm all about chaste and deep relationships with a foundation in friendship and shared history.”

Little: “We love to see it. Thanks for all your thoughts, Grace.”

Finally, we have Tyler. Thanks for being here Tyler. Tell us, what relationship trope is your favorite?"

Tyler: “The slow burn.”

LIttle: “Oooo, a kindred spirit. Love a good slow burn. What’s an example of this?”

Tyler: “Darrow and Mustang (Virginia) from Red Rising.”

Little: “And what about the one you hate?”

Tyler: “Enemies to lovers, I guess, but only if it just doesn’t make sense.”

Little: “.....I’m not going to fight you on this one, because you’re right. If it’s being forced, that’s a no. Thanks for answering.”

*Catherine grabs the microphone*

Catherine: "You’ve had your fun asking us, now let’s get to know your perspective - I know you pretty well and you’ve got opinions on romantic tropes. What is your favorite?"

Little: “Get ready. I have several.” Catherine: "Several favorites? I know you’ve got one favorite in particular; enemies to lovers perhaps?" Little: “Yup. I am such a sucker for enemies-to-lovers, but as noted, it has to be well done. It can’t just be hot, jerk-to-lovers or miscommunication.”

Catherine: "What do you consider to be a well-done enemies to lovers story?" Little: “To me, Pride and Prejudice is the best example of this because they don’t even have to be enemies across kingdoms or whatever is normally required for enemies-to-lovers. Closely related to this trope, is the hyper-specific trope of enemies-to-lovers but they’re writing letters to each other but one (or both) don’t know the other’s identity. The most best example for this is You’ve Got Mail. The other examples for this are spoilers so LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT SOMETHING RUINED FOR YOU! Crown Duel and The Scarlet Pimpernel are perfect examples of this. Ugh, I love them so much.” Catherine: "Okay - now you said you had several favorite tropes. Which one comes second?"

Little: "I also like the solid married couple, like Grace and Kelly said. I love Wash and Zoe from Firefly, and Izumi and Sig Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist."

Catherine: "Such beautiful examples - and what a point for Fullmetal Alchemist. Any other tropes?"

Little: "I’m not sure I can even consider it a trope because I’ve only seen it once, but my goodness, I love it. The constant-marriage-proposal trope, which I’m currently reading in the Lord Peter Whimsey novels. This is a tricky one because I can see it going awry or toxic if a man just can’t listen to ‘no’. But this isn’t that. This is ‘I never considered marriage before now, but I’m now super in love with you and I will idiotically propose to you in causal conversation, just in case it works one time.’ It requires a character who’s an honest fool.”

Catherine: “An honest fool; I can see the charm in that. What about an honest answer to the question of your least favorite trope?”

Little: “Ugh, the love-at-first-sight-I-will-die-rather-than-live-without-you. Nothing makes me roll my eyes harder. I love my husband, but no human love is worth this. What makes this trope worse if when one character dies and the other just wastes away and dies of heartbreak. Like ??????? no. Get a grip. “I also hate the hot, bad boy love interest. He’s NOT a good person. I don’t care how attractive he is, girl. We do not choose men who are toxic! (This is not to be confused with the hot, bad reputation boy, of which Heath Ledger in 10 things I Hate About You is a prime, fabulous example. However, this one can fall apart easily if it’s not handled well.)

Catherine: "I feel like we could go on about this for a while - but that’s all the time we’ve got for now, folks. We’ve hit our wordcount and gone beyond! Thanks for tuning into “Speed Dating with the Wordsmiths!”

Agree? Disagree? Did we miss your favorite? Is there anyone you now want to fight? Let us know in the comments.

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