Wednesday 14 June 2023

Killer tropes?

 The existence of tropes - a recurring theme or plot element -  is an accepted thing and often discussed in romance writing. Lists are made and favourites declared - friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, secret baby, marriage of convenience, fake relationship, runaway bride, only one bed ... They are an excellent shorthand to describe a book and much loved and appreciated in the romance reading community. You know what you are getting and can chose to suit mood or preference - or avoid if that doesn't happen to be your thing.

I have found some Internet discussion about whether tropes apply to crime/thrillers/mysteries and what they are, but it doesn't seem to be so often explored as is the case with romance. Or so much agreement over what the tropes might be. 

This idea of crime tropes occurred to me as I was beginning to read the latest thriller by Harlen Coben - I Will Find You. Apparently it is a story involving a prison break - and I reckon this can be called a thriller trope.  

This got me going on a few others - 

Heists -  Ocean's Eleven type plotting

Gaslighting,/coercive relationships-  domestic noir territory

Mysterious disappearances and ambiguous strangers - Are they who they say they are?   

'Treasure hunts' - tracking down everything from Nazi gold to undiscovered manuscripts written by Shakespeare. With clues!

Secrets from the past - often popularly linked to events in the two World Wars. Can involve journals, diaries, letters ...

Serial Killers - these are are so ubiquitous I'm not sure they would count 

Enclosed settings - mostly islands, with a killer lurking. Or a snowed-in house party. I'm sure I also remember reading a British Library crime classic with a snowed-in train. 

Revenge - a favourite with Jacobean playwrights. I love those plays (Yes, you already know I'm bitter and twisted) I've always wanted to write one, but I haven't yet figured out how I would do it in a romantic suspense setting. One day, maybe. 

I'm sure there are a lot more - an interesting exercise to keep an eye out for new ones. 

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