What is the difference between a trope and a subgenre? | What is a trope? | What is a subgenre?

Let’s start with the definitions:

Trope- https://www.dictionary.com/browse/trope
“a convention or device that establishes a predictable or stereotypical representation of a character, setting, or scenario in a creative work”
There were actually quite a few definitions. And I think that is where new authors or non-authors get confused when those in the writing community discuss tropes. I think the term itself has a negative connotation. Which I don’t think it deserves.

Because at the end of the day, so many stories, can be broken down into some of these recurring conventions and themes. Some readers will pick a book, or not pick it, based on the trope. And just like there are certain standards to define the genre, you have certain reader expectations to meet with the trope. Some of these will carry through the full line of the story, some are devices for the inciting incident of the story

Here are some examples of common tropes:
Fiction tropes:
Damsel in distress
Orphaned child with superpowers
It was all a dream
Romance tropes: holy moly! Are there ever romance fiction tropes:
Friends to lovers
Enemies to lovers
SciFi tropes
The aliens are humans
Lost in space

Those are all story devices, character archetypes, or other mechanisms to start your story or complete one element of it.

The subgenre however is the division within your larger genre:
Subgenre https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subgenre
: a genre that is part of a larger genre

Romance Subgenres
Historical romance
Contemporary romance

SciFi Subgenres
Time travel

You can find the trope “friends to lovers” in books in each of those romance subgenres. The subgenre tells us the overall category of the story. People who like historical romance may not like billionaire romance, so when they browse for boosk they will look under the historical romance category. As they read the book description they may be able to tell that this will be a friends-to-lovers romance.

I hope this has helped to give you an idea of what these two items are, how they differ, and how both authors and readers use them.


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