I’m starting an irregular column on writing romance. It helps if you know what the reader most enjoys. Obviously there’s room for the new but if you’re approaching an established publisher it’s always a good idea to begin with something they know will sell so I’m beginning with a rundown of  popular tropes.
The Marriage of Convenience

Yes, even in this day and age when single mothers are no longer stoned in the street, it’s still possible to write this fan favourite trope.

Money is a good reason. Tricky Wills give you a lot of scope.  Okay, you can challenge them, but in the mean time you might be left homeless. Or you might discover that the inheritance you thought was safely in the bag is mortgaged up the hilt. The unexpected pregnancy after a night with someone you’ve only just met – or have known forever but as a friend, is still a useful one. Social pressures are still there, or guilt, or maybe the guy plans to do his duty, just being there, providing support and ends up falling in love. Of course you have to come up with a good reason why they ended up in bed together. That’s the fun bit!

The Sheikh Romance

Ever since E M Hull wrote the iconic “The Sheikh” they have sold like hotcakes. The first thing to realise about a sheikh romance, is that it is a total fantasy and has nothing to do with reality. The sheikh has everything. He is in total command of his environment, has unimaginable power and wealth coupled with an air of danger, otherness. He also has the kind of respect for family, a sense of honour, that can leave him in some really tricky situations.

Lots of scope for marriage of convenience here especially if the woman is in some kind of danger, or he has some hidden reason for not marrying the woman his family has chosen for him.
If you struggle seeing him as a hero, a former publishing director of Mills and Boon once described him to me as “a cowboy wearing a different hat”.  Same thousand yard gaze. Same deep seated sense of honour.

Nine to Five

The workplace romance should be tricky in this PC/Human Resources dominated age but it’s is still a much-loved trope. Unlike the sheikh romance, this is something much closer to home, familiar. Most of us will have worked somewhere – office, store, factory – at some point in our lives.  These days, of course, it doesn’t have to be the powerful boss and the woman he doesn’t notice until some crisis occurs and he needs her to play his fiancée. There’s plenty of room to play out a scenario between equals, a boardroom battle that only one of them can win. So much more interesting.
Christmas 
Oh now, this is always fun. You not only have two people trying very hard not to fall into bed with each other but you have it with baubles, fairy lights, Santa Claus and snow.
You can dress your characters in embarrassingly silly costumes, dump two feet of snow on them, cut off the electricity or strand the Grinch and the Sugar Plum Fairy in a place from which there is no escape (it doesn’t have to be snow!)
Mayhem or magic, they go down a treat.

The Mediterranean Hero
Passionate, sexy, with his dark good-looks, the Mediterranean billionaire — Greek, Italian, Spanish or Italian — is the staple hero of romance.

He is very nearly as much a fantasy as the sheikh. You can throw in a palazzo overlooking the sea, helicopters, yachts, private jets, private islands and plenty of angst. Oh, and sex. Lots of sex.

That’s it for now. I should probably have added babies to the list. There is nothing like a cute baby on the cover to set the cash tills ringing, but they have to be tiny (no toddlers or teenagers in series romance – they distract from the hero and heroine and it’s story).

Look at the books being published, what tropes call you? Writing what you enjoy is always the best way to start.

Next time I’ll talk about the “crucible”.

Happy writing.

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Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance is available to download from iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.