In ‘Enemies to Lovers’ week of our romance-literature tropes series, Jennie Jones tells us about the version of the trope that made its way into The House at the Bottom of the Hill.
The House at the Bottom of the Hill stars Daniel Bradford and Charlotte Simmons.
Are Dan and Charlotte enemies? More like adversaries, although one of them doesn’t know that. Then they become lovers and it gets a whole lot more complicated for both of them—and everyone around them.
I found inspiration writing the adversity in The House at the Bottom of the Hill. It gave me a whole new platform of scenarios—and not only for Dan and Charlotte.
You see, Dan knows he’s doing something that will affect Charlotte’s new business. Problem is, the townspeople don’t know about Dan’s secret to upgrade his business. And nobody knows that newcomer Charlotte isn’t intending to go through with her proposed business. So the Enemies (or Adversaries) to Lovers trope gave me heaps of interesting and sometimes humorous scope to weave in the secondary characters and have the whole issue affect everyone in town, and even the town’s future.
Charlotte is the new owner of the pink B&B in Swallow’s Fall and Dan runs Kookaburra’s— the local pub. Now, even though Charlotte only intends to stay in town long enough to find answers about her mother’s death many years ago, she can’t stand looking at that flamingo pink on the B&B walls and wants to repaint it yellow. Cue outrage from those on the town’s committee who don’t like change and don’t like Charlotte much, either.
So Charlotte is in a muddle about the B&B because she doesn’t want to leave it looking old and sad. Dan is in a muddle about whether or not he should come clean with her about his about-to-happen upgrade to the pub (which will put them in opposition and probably wipe her out of business), and the townspeople don’t know any of it. Yet.
There are challenges in writing, full stop. But there are also challenges involved when choosing which trope you want to write. I always try to grow my story (and therefore the heroine’s and hero’s journey) through the trope – which means it’s got to affect everybody in the story and cause conflict for more than just the heroine and hero.
Oh—and sometimes, I don’t think about the trope. It simply finds me and the story as I write—usually from whatever dilemma the heroine and hero have in their hands and in their hearts when I first put chapter one together and discover who my main characters are.
(I must add that by use of the term ‘heroine and hero’ I refer to the woman and the man who are my main players—the woman and man I cheer for while writing. And given that they come through sometimes hard, sometimes exasperating, circumstances, they are my heroine and hero for simply getting through it all and out the other side. Much the same as we all do in life—we do get there, wherever ‘there’ is. It’s not easy, but isn’t it wonderful to relax, sit back and read about our fictional heroines and heroes doing it their way while giving us a break from our reality? And maybe giving us inspiration to keep chasing whatever or wherever it is we’re meant to be too…)
Whatever the trope, it can be used to great effect, and I believe this is the way a writer can understand and get around that perfectly correct adage, ‘It’s all been written before—what are you going to do to make it fresh?’ We weave the trope into the storyline in such a manner that it’s ultimately important to our main characters, and yet simultaneously reaps an awful lot of conflict or problematic scenarios for the people in their environment—which means our heroine and hero have to grow, commiserate, reflect, re-charge, renew previously held ideals, and ultimately, in the case of a romantic story, find their own way to their own happy ever after.
No heroine or hero in a good romance story is delivered their happy ever after. They have to chase it.