Come to the dark side…recognizing tropes

My husband and I were watching an hour mystery on television the other day–I think it was Castle–and the detectives had just brought in the killer for questioning, when out of the blue my husband says, “That can’t be the killer. It’s too early. The show’s only halfway in.”

I sniffed back a tear of pleasure. “I have trained you well, grasshopper.”

One of the secrets I’ve learned through being an author is how to craft a believable story: tools to not reveal the killer too quickly but still keep tensions high; ways to make the supernatural, like vampires, seem perfectly natural (humor works really well there. Like the pain the poor thing feels getting a fang root canal).

The problem is, knowing the craft behind the story, the bones if you will, now gets in the way of my completely enjoying television, movies and books.

I was reading one of my go-to authors when in an early chapter, the heroine was told not to worry about the murderer, because Constable Reliable (spoiler–not his real name! lol) was watching for baddies, on patrol outside her house.

I knew…I knew Constable Reliable was going to get knocked unconscious in the Chapter Crisis. The reason I was so certain is that the heroine must always face the villain in the climax. Better yet if she does so alone. So somehow, the heroine was going to lose her protector, poor Constable Reliable, so the villain and the heroine could have their face time.

Another tell is when Stuck-at-the-hips Buddies separate. Buddy and Buddy have been together throughout the whole movie and then suddenly for some “reason” they have to go in different directions. Well, sure as anything, one of them is gonna have some bad thing happen.

Apparently DH has listen to me complain search for new ways to enjoy stories despite meme and tropes for long enough that he’s also started seeing the hands inside the puppets and the man behind the curtain.

What about you? What tropes or factors make storytelling a little too predictable for you?

About Mary Hughes

Who am I? A lover of stories that crackle with action and love. A mother, a flutist, a binge-TV-watcher of NCIS, Sherlock, and Agents of SHIELD. Most of all, a believer in grand passion. Mary's online and would love to hear from you! Website Blog Group Blog Group Blog Facebook Twitter Newsletter signup
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4 Responses to Come to the dark side…recognizing tropes

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Mary, too funny about the fang root canal. I can’t read ‘revenge romance tropes’. Where the bitter (but handsome) billionaire has a revenge plot against his former wife/girlfriend/or her family. But she’s actually innocent and in love with him. I just want to yell at her, “Run! Run quickly! He’s an asshole!”

    I do guess the villain often – and of course, we all know that the hero/heroine will get together – but if I’m enjoying the writing and the characters, I’ll usually read it to the end. I often guess the killer in a TV show, but I usually will watch it to the end, too.

    • Mary Hughes says:

      Lol Edie, on the “run quickly”! If I like the story, I don’t mind guessing the murderer in a mystery either. I remember Columbo even showed the murder happening at the beginning, and I loved that show 🙂

  2. I LOVE it when I’m so into the story I forget that I’m a storyteller myself, but that happens so rarely.

    Occasionally I’ll forget myself and scoff at something on TV and say aloud, well, he’s obviously so-and-so’s father, and he’s going to die. And my kids glare at me, and then when it happens, my daughter is astonished that I saw it coming. From a mile away. And there are many examples. Now I’m not allowed to say a word. Which can be frustrating. 🙂

    • Mary Hughes says:

      Michelle, that’s it! A story so good I forget I’m a storyteller. Very rare. Lol about the family. I remember after the first Star Wars my older brother telling me Luke and Leia were sibs and I scoffed. Of course he was right and when I asked how he knew he said it was a classic myth 🙂

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