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March 15, 2023
Writing Process

Found Family Trope

Every book includes some sort of trope or tropes — recognized plot elements that happen in a book. I bet you can list off several that you love to read. They are a great way to figure out if a book is one that you want to pick up and read.

Examples of common tropes include:

  • Chosen One
  • Hero’s Journey
  • Sage/Mentor
  • Right of Passage
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Found Family

The trope I want to talk about today is Found Family. It is what it sounds like: someone (usually an orphan, but not always) gathers a group of friends and creates their own family. I love this trope and typically include it in most of my books. The idea that you are in charge of who you consider family, whether they are blood-related or not, is just so powerful, which is why I love to write about it.

In college, I created my own found family from friends, classmates, and people who would be there no matter what’s to come. These people mean so much to me: I rank them right up there — and in some cases, higher — than my family. But this comes with its own challenges, which also occur in fiction.

Authors tend to write what they know and this is an area that I have life experience with, so I write about it.

In the Traveler Series, the main character, Betha, creates her own family; her blood family is limited to only her mother. Early on in her life, she chooses Angie, who is her best friend. Angie and Betha are basically sisters as far as either of them is concerned. Nothing can separate them unless they allow it to. You can read a short story about how much work they put in to remain close to one another in Traveler Forgotten.

Betha just doesn't gather one person in this collection of family members. She pulls in several:

  • Grandpappy, who is Angie’s great-grandfather a few times removed
  • Joey, a golden lab who is a giant loving goofball
  • Ben, a nerdy bear shifter

These three, along with several others, make a ragtag group that doesn't always agree with one another but that has each other's backs.

The found family trope usually shows up with some other tropes like Orphan's Story, Chosen One, and similar. It is common in young adult and new adult books. This is especially common within the fantasy genre because having a great cast of characters helps keep readers along for the journey. As is typical in real life, the conflict comes into play in novels between the found family and the blood family. This could be as simple as choosing one over the other or having to decide who goes on the adventure.

What are your thoughts on the found family trope?