Romance in Real Life

By J.W. Ashley, author of Into the Woods

Into the WoodsA romance heroine gets all she can out of life. She respects herself and expects respect from others. She learns to love and to live well. And that’s what we all aim to do–readers and writers alike. But how does a real-life woman get a story-book life? How can she meet her match? How does she find pride in her body and joy from her job? How does she make her life an exciting adventure?

Living the life of a heroine for 100 days, my friend and I are trying to answer these questions by referring to happily-ever-after stories we love. We’re recreating romance in real life, one trope at a time.

Will taking a fall like Anastasia Steele help someone fall in love? Can love transcend the need for translation? Can a heroine’s siren song really enrapture? Will men respond to damsels in distress?

So far we’ve “fallen” into potential heroes; we’ve asked strangers in a night market to give us hugs using only body language; we’ve belted out Adele tunes in a metro tunnel; we’ve locked keys in our car so that we could be rescued” and more. We’re just about 30 days in, and here’s what we’ve found so far:

5 Tried and True Romance Tropes that Work in Real Life

1. Teach Me Something: When we try this trope in real life, we make fast friends. In one experiment, the chef of a local Indian restaurant actually let us come into his kitchen and taught us how to make Naan bread! [For Crimson Lessons, check out Beginning Again by Peggy Bird.]

2. Falling: After taking a couple of public tumbles (in a school, an Apple store, Jasons Market Place, Starbucks, and even a 7-Eleven), we discovered that men were happy to help, even laughing and smiling and bowing. Yes, bowing. (We’re in Taiwan after all!) [For a Crimson Fall into love, check out my novel, Into the Woods.]

3. The Siren Song: Although our metro-tunnel singing wasn’t enjoyed by everyone, the day ended in shared photos, smiles, thumbs-up, and some downright awe. [For a Crimson Siren, check out Love, Eternally by Morgan O’Neill.]

4. Fashionista: Pretending to be damsels in distress, we changed our clothes, wanting to see which girl got the most help: Average Girl, Working Girl, The Lady in Red, Pink Princess, Frump Girl, or Hipster. Hands down, Pink Princess won. Of course, the Lady in Red got stares and double-takes and near drooling, but no help. [For a Crimson Fashionista, check out Irene Preston’s Infamous.]

5. Damsel in Distress: This one is epic and powerful. We have tested this trope several times: “accidentally” falling, locking our keys in a car, carrying heavy suitcases, and dropping stuff. Every time, we are rescued. Men always stop to help us, and once the guy even had to get on his scooter and drive away to get more help! The bigger the distress your in, the more help you’ll get. But there is one catch. You can’t merely be a woman. You have to be a damsel. You might even have to pout a little bit. If you seem to independent or too strong, you might not get aid. [For a Crimson Damsel, check out J.M. Stewart's Her Knight in Black Leather.]

If there are tropes you want us try in books you’ve written or in books you’ve read and loved, let us know in the comments!

For more Romance in Real Life, visit my blog.