What We Learn From Billionaire Alpha Male Werewolf RomCom Bad Boys

To quote Nick:

I’ve got to jog and can’t get really deep into this just yet, but–here’s the thread to discuss! So people like tropes. They like cliches. They like werewolves who can kidnap and ravish them in a dark forest while their negligent parents are off at work functions. Why?

And further–I’d really like to hear from people who specifically like these tropes. I know @LailaLiliana does Mafia, for example, and that’s definitely a niche… I think @DarlaCassic is somewhere around the Billionaire genre? And here I am, nose-deep in vampires. We all have things we write that other people don’t understand. Speculation is great, and I also want to see the facts from people who are in these groupings!

Final questions: How can someone apply what you love about your favorite trope to a work without it? And how can you apply the base functions of other tropes to your writing without including them directly?

10 Likes

Yaasss!

It’s kinda billionaire I think :thinking:
But it’s not at all why people come. I think it’s more the boss/employee trope.

2 Likes

That’s an interesting question. If your LI wasn’t a billionaire, would it mean the same thing? And what’s up with the boss/employee trope, then? Everything’s a trope! Oh my God I really ought to be eating breakfast.

4 Likes

bookmarks this to come back later

4 Likes

I also have the experimented/unexperimented trope.

Independant woman/dominant man

So. Many. Tropes.

My LI isn’t a billionaire. He’s rich, but not filthy rich, so I think it would be the same. Reader only realized he was kinda rich after 40 chapters, so it’s definitely not what they come for.

7 Likes

Is the question why do I like and/or write these kinds of stories?

5 Likes

I’d be interested to hear both!

4 Likes

Oh wow. I love tropes of twisted love triangles (going to do it for ONC) which I guess it just misconceptions and unrequited love and… human flaws. So quite applicable elsewhere.

2 Likes

I think people are just intrigued by the boss/employee trope. I can definitely see how that forbidden romance can capture attention. Let me ask you, why do you write about vampires? It will probably be the same reason as to why people write these types of tropes.

1 Like

Well, overall, I like mafia romance because I like romance and I like action. It’s an easy way to combine the two and hold my interest. It’s why I’ll go for any kind of gang, military, cop, spy, etc. romance. It’s the best of both worlds because I get my cute romance but I also get a lot of action and tension and violence. Plus, I’m fascinated by the mafia. My family has a sketchy history. Maybe it’s in my blood. :joy:

As for the mafia bad boy kind of guy in particular, it’s kind of like when you see a super rough-around-the-edges, tatted up biker guy somewhere and he suddenly does something that seems really out of character for how you perceived him to be. Like maybe he saw a dog and got on the ground to pet it, or he saw a little girl drop her ice cream cone and bought her another one. It’s that idea of this dangerous, intimidating person having this hidden soft side that you didn’t know about. (Also why I’ll close out of the stories where the dude is abusive because… the whole thing I’m going for is that soft side in someone who doesn’t look like they’d have a soft side.)

Now why I would go for that kind of thing… no idea. You could probably psychoanalyze me and find something deep down in there that explains it :joy: Who knows. But I’ve always been drawn to that kind of thing.

12 Likes

Let’s see. I’ve always enjoyed a well written “bad boy” trope, as in, the boy rejects societal expectations and deviates from the norm. Maybe falls a bit on the “wild” / “dangerous” side (not dangerous to the woman herself - I’m not talking abusive and toxic relationship here). But the kind of guy Dad wouldn’t approve of and Mom would raise her brows at. Reading a romance like that, with a boy bending the rules and the girl shedding her insecurity, it can be thrilling, especially when you’re unlikely to actually meet the perfect balance of dark and broody x romantic stud in real life lol. This type of romance serves as an escape to a lot of women.

Then you add in those moments of compassion hidden under the hard exterior, and it’s even better, because the protagonist and the reader can both see something human in this person who pretends to hate the world. And maybe it triggers that “I can save him” trope, which isn’t really a good thing, but it’s something that exists in a lot of us – the hope that love will bring that warmer side of him to the surface. I think that’s part of what appeals to a lot of bad-boy romance readers. Even if I don’t want it to, it’s definitely appealed to me before.

6 Likes

I’m still ‘figuring out’ tropes, mainly b/c I think ALL good stories are just tropes that humans keep revisiting. I write werewolves. (There is a rabid fanbase for werewolves on Wattpad.) Although every author approaches the genre differently, I was drawn to writing wolves & shifter romance as a metaphor for human nature. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t at some point felt like they were seconds away from losing control–of their lives, their sex drives, their tempers.

With the werewolf trope, there is often acknowledgement of the amount of work or training that goes into remaining so-called civilized. But, there’s also room for obliterating self-control. These stories provide a justifiable reason to explore the socially acceptable mores of restraint. Is it okay to lose your temper and destroy a bunch of people? Of course not, so the characters who do so are penalized in our stories.

Conversely, sometimes we NEED to get angry and speak up for some injustice against us. Just about every good werewolf love story features the hero using his supernatural prowess to do exactly that. And since we more or less agree that it’s okay to get wild and kinky in our relationships, the trope lets readers experience what might happen if they lose control in the bedroom.

All in all, shifter romance is about examining the spectrum of self-control–when it’s right to relax our hold on it and when it’s appropriate to loosen the reigns. I think most stories that involve supernatural elements can apply this same principle without using werewolves. I’m not sure you can write a werewolf story that doesn’t in some way examine self-control b/c it’s the core tenet of shifting. Either you control it or you don’t, but there’s no shift without a reckoning with control.

Why do I write it? I’m a rigidly self-controlled person in nearly every aspect of my life (except writing, for some strange reason lol) So, maybe I’m exploring the limits of my own restraint.

8 Likes

This is a convo for me. I REALLY like age gap romance. I didn’t even notice I did it until a reader told me they specifically read my books for it. :joy:

8 Likes

Yes. This. So much this. “Bad boy” (which I hate that phrase anyway because I don’t write about “boys” :joy:) does not equal abusive. So many other things can make a character a “bad boy” aside from abusing or manipulating the female character. My character kills people like it’s his job (get it? Because it is? haha) but never once physically or emotionally abuses his love interest.

6 Likes

You make some good points, here. I bet it also ties into a younger, more naive version of the fairytale romance. Most teen and young adult readers are super conscious of the fact they’re not perfect, and they don’t want a perfect Prince Charming. They want someone who’s capable of screwing up, someone humanized and flawed. After all, aren’t these the most interesting sorts? With a bad boy or a mafia boss or motorcycle club leader, there’s room for self-development, which is so much more real-life than any fairytale.

5 Likes

Everyone has these well-thought-out answers and I’m like “I like romance + I like action = Mafia romance” :joy:

9 Likes

It seems like a guilty pleasure, to be honest.

1 Like

Lol. Don’t feel bad I have no answer too. I’m just like, Idk I come from a culture where it’s weird to be the same age as the person you’re dating. :joy:

2 Likes

To help Laila and Saint on not feeling bad…

All the things we enjoy in stories will have some sort of real-world parallel. For example, in saint’s case where it helps from a cultural perspective to engage with content that meets their cultural understanding, even if the story is doing it entirely inadvertently (age gap fic takes place anywhere).

Or something people find really special about dating someone is that, generally, we’re well guarded about our “true” selves or our emotions. And who is more guarded than a bad boy? They’re just so obvious in putting up a front that they are the maximum security bank vaults of personal emotion. And it’s so satisfying to know that you’ve cracked that vault, that you, and only you, are special enough to get to see the version of them nobody else gets to see. And you can’t have that if the character is a soft boi who is always feeding stray dogs (but if it turns out he’s a raging alcoholic in his own time the whole thing picks up again).

And, to then apply it out there more broadly, people really seem to enjoy these sorts of dichotomy in storytelling. There’s an appeal to seeing a character open up or expose their true selves. It can help be an indication that two characters are getting along really well if you have a scene where one opens to the other. Or not doing it can help portray that they aren’t. It’s also why really violent media is often also very funny media in order to counterbalance the harshness of the violence with the levity. This sort of rollercoaster that flips back and forth can help create engagement or enjoyment in a plotline, any plotline, in any genre.

12 Likes

Interesting take, though I have another one.

Othering.

Folks love to explore the dynamics of being othered and different without speaking to real life close cut. A lot of people will have a melt down in the comments if you discuss racism directly, but they are willing to lean in to discussions about it using fictional races. In a way, it is a way for artists to express their emotions and feelings about otherness/discrimination will staying safe and shielded.

There is a reason people like monster romance. There is a reason people like villains.

The shape of water is popular for this reason.
Shows like Daybreak that present zombies as sympathetic is another.
In Venom where Venom declares "I am not a parasite."
In shows like Castlevania where you become sympathetic towards characters like Dracula,

There’s this special relationship to otherness, and that’s why marginalized groups tend to drift towards narratives like that (Especially LGBT+ folks, POC and to a huge extent women.)

6 Likes