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Halloween Tropes I Love In Romance

If it hasn't become obvious with last week's post on candy corn and virtually every other Tweet on my profile having something to do with Halloween, I love fall. Changing leaves make it the prettiest season. The temperature drops to a more comfortable number where all you need is a light jacket or sweater if anything. Pumpkin-flavored baked goods make their return.

And, of course, Halloween. Need I say more?

There's a coziness to the fall that makes my heart happy and so many good things to be found.

In celebration of my favorite time of year, here are some of my favorite Halloween tropes to see especially in romance.


Let's get the most obvious one out of the way first.

My favorite part of Halloween has always been dressing up, so it's no wonder that I love instances of characters getting into costume.

Whether it's a solo venture or every employee in an office doing a group costume, there is so much creativity that can come out of costumes.

You can have your characters in costumes that fit their personality to a T, or those who do the entirely unexpected. A romance might see one love interest trying to convince their significant other to do a couple's costume. Or two strangers might arrive at a party dressed as Princess Buttercup and Wesley and end up together because of their mutual love for The Princess Bride.

The costumes themselves can bring a level of humor to the story, too. We've all seen the laughable knock-offs on shelves at Halloween stores. Why dress as Robin Hood when you can be Archery Man or Velma from Scooby-Doo when Sexy Detective Babe exists?

Then there are the costumes that just make little sense to me and amuse me all the more. There's just something about Slutty Nuns and Sexy Monks that doesn't sit right with me. And who wouldn't want to be one half of a PB&J costume that, no joke, costs $40?

The costumes you put your characters in can say a lot about them and make for some funny happenstances.

As awkward as it can be, I get a laugh out of characters who didn't get the memo and either go overboard when everyone else is low-key or are at a party where everyone is dressed to the nines and they show up in a classic minimal effort last-minute costume like cutting holes in a sheet or putting on a flannel shirt and going as a scarecrow.

I know this is an unpopular take, but I'm not a huge fan of Mean Girls. But I will say my favorite part of the film was Cady walking into the Halloween party to discover she's the only one wearing a scary costume and everyone else around her is a sexy this or slutty that—or a mouse, duh!

This kind of costumed shenanigans is why Halloween episodes are usually among my favorites for TV shows, and why I enjoy seeing it in books.

Hay There!

You know I enjoy anything where forced proximity is at play.

To reap this post that goes into more depth, forced proximity in fiction relates to any situation that limits the distance between your characters and forces them to interact. This is often when the relationship begins to build, and where you might see significant revelations, confessions of feelings, and reconciliation after arguments occur.

And I LOVE it.

Hay rides are one of my favorite autumn-themed forced proximity setups.

Your characters are sitting together in the back of a wagon touring a farm or an orchard. Maybe they're drinking cider or hot chocolate. Autumn nights get chilly, a perfect excuse to snuggle or share a blanket—or, another favorite trope of mine, have one love interest lend the other their jacket.

Some places in my area even do haunted hay rides at night. These might include actors along the trail ready to jump out of the shadows as you would see in a haunted house or the driver or other individual on the hay ride crew telling ghost stories and local legends.

And with any transportation-centric forced proximity scenario, there is always the chance for things to go wrong and for your characters to be in each other's company longer than anticipated. A wheel could come loose or get stuck. Something could spook the horse pulling the wagon.

Forced proximity is something I have fun incorporating into my own writing, and hay rides can give it such a cozy, autumnal feel (even if you're like me and have allergies that can get set off by straw).

Silver Screen Screams

One of the common date scenes I've encountered in fiction involves going to the movies—particularly for first dates.

It's casual, so there isn't the stress of having to put together a classy outfit. Even though ticket and concession prices have risen over the past couple of years, it's still a fairly inexpensive outing.

And it comes with a bounty of opportunities for cuteness.

There's the classic yawn-arm-stretch move we've all seen from characters trying to make a move. Your love interests' hands might brush against each other as they reach for the bucket of popcorn between them. One person might catch the other looking at them during more romantic scenes, maybe trying to gauge their reactions to things.

And if it's a horror movie they're seeing, you might have one character laughing at the other for being startled by a jumpscare or offering a comforting touch and reminding them that it's all special effects. The conversation as the credits roll might be roasting choices made by characters that ultimately got them killed or debating survival strategies should they end up in a similar situation--and the realization that the love interest might be more level-headed and dependable than they let on.

Scary movies can bring an interesting take to the idea of the first date cinema cliché. Low-key as it might be, it has so much potential!

Haunted Houses

On a similar note to the above example of horror movie dates, having your love interests visit a haunted house can be another scary good date scene.

For context, I'm referring more towards the kinds of haunted house attractions that pop up around Halloween and at theme parks and not houses believed to be haunted.

You might have a love interest claim that nothing scares them but are startled by an actor dressed as a bloody scientist pops out of the corner—something the other person outright refuses to let them live down. Contrarily, the werewolf charging at the couple might cause one person jump into the other's embrace without even thinking about it, and prompt an internal monologue questioning why their reaction was to go to this person's arms for protection or how easily the other person slid them behind and took the spattering of fake blood in their stead. You could incorporate an escape room element, like needing to solve a series of puzzles or else they end up trapped in a meat locker with a chainsaw-wielding clown, which tests the love interests' ability to cooperate in times of chaos. One character might be so scared or overwhelmed by everything around them, their love interest tells them to shut their eyes, hold their hand, and leads them through the haunted house as quickly as possible.

My beloved forced proximity also resides in the haunted house trope, as characters are going to be in each other's company for the duration of their walkthrough.

Haunted houses have plenty of room for creativity. The cast can include anything from zombies, possessed dolls, mad scientists, scarecrows, ghosts, skeletons—anything you can think of. They can be so unique. Some might have a plot thread running through it or a scavenger hunt involved.

I'd personally recommend keeping your romance novel haunted house experiences as a "boo haunt" level because not every reader of romance novels has a stomach for horror. Even if you're like me and love horror games and movies, there are only so many spooks you can throw into a romance novel before it loses sight of the genre.

We want heart-fluttering romances, not heart-pounding ones.

Regardless, haunted houses can bring something special to your story and be the setting for some memorable moments.

When we think of romantic holidays, Valentine's Day is likely the first that comes to mind, potentially followed by the coziness of Christmas and kisses at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Halloween might be seen as the scariest of holidays but, sometimes, you might find it can also be one of the most romantic ones, too. Autumn itself brings a sense of coziness and togetherness. Coupled with the fun of Halloween, it can make for some sweet moments in romance novels.

You might discover that Halloween is not only the time for tricks and treats and pumpkin spice, but maybe love.



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