Writing Tropes Part 6: Secret Princess

Here we come to the second to last installment in this writing mini-series!

Today, let’s talk about another of the minor writing tropes: Secret Princess.

The Secret Princess is either one of the main characters or is one of the secondary characters in the story that interacts with the main character at one point during the story. Usually they appear as a beggar or peasant, or something along those lines. While they (speaking of the Secret Princess/King/Queen/Prince) might very well be hiding in fear of their life, they often in stories don’t even know they’re royalty. In which cases, they show up and surprise everyone by proclaiming their royalty later on, having disguised themselves to become an ordinary person.

Even though I’m guilty of using this trope in my Princess of the Highlands Trilogy *cough*, I’ve often seen it done poorly in stories–which drives me nuts, I can assure you. And just why does it drive me nuts, you might ask?

It’s not because it’s a bad trope. I think that it could be very well done (see case in point in The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain). The problem is, it’s usually not well done and/or creates for a lame story. This actually could refer to any “secret” character, including Chosen One tropes.

How is it poorly done? Because the secret whatever acts dumb in never realizing who they are even though it’s clearer than daylight who they are. Or the secret __________ acts super paranoid about other people finding out who they are. Or the secret fill-in-the-blank doesn’t get why no one understands them when they say who they really are.

Get the picture?

My main thought of how to break this trope or keep it from being lame is to work on characterization. Make sure that it makes sense–don’t make your Secret Princess an idiot. Make sure the scenario surrounding them is plausible.

A really good example of a well-done Secret Princess (in my humble opinion, that is) is Crown Games by my friend Libby. (You can find the review here at the bottom of this blog post: Crown Games Review) In this story, her Secret Princess is a princess who is trying to live a normal life in a society where if she was discovered, she could easily be put to death. She does not want to be royalty, but who can help fate when she is discovered and brought to the capital in exchange to fight for her life? 😉 I’ll leave you to guess what happens next.

I hope this was a helpful post and next week, we’re going to be talking about one last trope before I wrap this all up: Evil King.

If you missed the last post in this series, check the link below. 🙂 

Writing Tropes Part 5: The Hero

See you all next week! Sorry there’s no review this week. I’ll try to have one next time. 🙂

~ Cheyenne


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