Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Book & Movies Relationship Tropes – Bad Boy & Sweet Girl

June 9, 2022
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As we all know the definition of a trope in literary terms is a plot device or character attribute that is used so commonly in a genre that it is commonplace or conventional. I’ve recently been intrigued by the bad boy-good girl trope of romance books and movies, especially trilogies. It may have something to do with a draft manuscript I have on the back burner, which has a bad girl – good boy (you know me I like to switch things up!) It is interesting to see this specific relationship scenario played out, and the complexities of the plots. (Some better and more believable than others!)

I have researched three such movie trilogies/series and have found the basic characters and their flaws and/or strengths to be the very similar in each. Obviously, the plots and character lives are different, but the basic character structures are easily identifiable.

  1. The Kissing Booth
  2. Twilight
  3. Fifty Shades

Each one has a damaged, aloof, unattainable male character and also an innocent, charming, loving female character. The love aspect of the relationships are played out with various obstacles, misunderstandings and heart break scenarios. The characters go through intense, fractured and profound changes. The females become stronger and more capable of ‘controlling’ and understanding their love interest, while the male character’s go through a realization process that this specific woman can, in fact, love them for who they are.

So, why go to these lengths, you may ask? Well, there is that draft manuscript languishing in the pile, but also I am working on a trilogy and it is the character development, I am most interested in. Readers want to ‘see’ a character develop and change, overcome obstacles and have some sort of resolution. With trilogies, or indeed, any series, this is the ‘draw’ for a reader. How will the character overcome, manage and ultimately succeed?

With Christian and Anastasia in Fifty Shades – he is emotionally and physically damaged from childhood trauma and he ‘copes’ with punishing his mother look-a-likes in the playroom. Ana shows him there is another way to love and forgive.

With Elle and Noah in The Kissing Booth she breaks the rule of having a relationship with her best friend, Lee’s brother. It is a forbidden love full of secrets, guilt and at times an unattainable relationship. Elle risks her life long friendship with Lee to pursue Noah. The trilogy follows the characters through high school to college.

With Edward and Bella, again there is the unattainable relationship, this time between a vampire and a human. This is the ultimate taboo. Bella is convinced she is destined to be a vampire, but Edward will do anything to protect her from such an existence. The third player is Jacob, a werewolf, which adds to the complexity of the relationship as he is also in love with Bella. The two male character’s have a instinctive, historical hatred for each other, but both will do anything to protect Bella.

As you can see the similarities are obvious with each story with conflicts between the two main characters and their connection to each other, no matter the obstacles.

Can you name another series with this bad boy – good girl scenario?

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