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Fictional Tropes I Adore - Part 2

White bedsheets and pillows look recently slept in.
Photo by Cassidy Dickens on Unsplash

We love fictional tropes here at MM and will champion many of them despite popular opinion. As Alice and I have both discussed recently, tropes have their place in fiction and do not necessarily need to be subversive to be enjoyable. This week, I wanted to continue discussing my love of certain tropes in literature and other creative media.

There’s Only One Bed

Ah, a compelling feature of many romance and fanfiction narratives. Our duo enters the motel for the night after a long journey to discover that the last room available only has one bed. Having nowhere else to go, the pair accept. Will they share the bed? If not, where will the other sleep? If they do sleep together, will they clash or simply accept it? Will they wake up in each other’s arms? It’s too much!

The intimate atmosphere that the one-bed trope creates is perfect for bringing characters closer and building on budding feelings of romance or mutual pining. It’s a fun little trope that is often accused of being cheesy - I can’t help but love it regardless.

Great examples of this:

Margaret and Andrew, The Proposal

Eragon and Arya, the Inheritance Cycle

Declan and Anna, Leap Year

Missing Scene

A missing scene fic is a fanfiction that writes up a scene that occurs between two scenes in the original show, movie, book etc. Typically, you will find these tropes attempting to rectify plot holes or flesh out satisfying moments in canon. Missing scene fics can be an excellent way of getting answers to unsolved questions or diving deeper into the plot and the characters’ relationships. If you are a writer looking for a fun writing exercise, think about a plothole or story you were dissatisfied with and write your own missing scene fic.

Allies...For Now

We’ve all seen this one. A group of acquaintances, often the enemies and heroes, get stuck somewhere and must work together to escape. Usually, this will be a crash in the desert or perhaps getting locked in a room together. Alternatively, this can also be called Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and refer to a long-term forced teamwork scenario. For me, this trope works best if the group that gets stuck together do not get along at first. Small scenes like this can expose how characters problem-solve and how they work in a crisis. There will often be bickering, and maybe they will talk about more significant issues while fighting over a wrench. Often, genius solutions evolve from teamwork and the gang escape with newfound positive opinions and deeper relationships.

Great examples of this:

Korra, Asami, and the Ba Sing Se crew, Avatar: The Legend of Korra

Roy Mustang and Olivier Armstrong, Fullmetal Alchemist

Everyone, Lost

An old fashioned style four-faced clock reads 11:53
Photo by Bryce Barker on Unsplash

Groundhog Peggy Sue

Groundhog Peggy Sue is the trope that forces a character to relive a significant and often painful day in their life until a condition is met. Often they will mess up and keep getting put back to the start after failing to save someone they love, stopping the Big Bad, or dying. This trope is often used in tv shows and fanfiction to significant effect. The Groundhog Peggy Sue trope can help a character work through internal conflict or figure out how to move forward, often emerging as a competent cast member. I especially love it if something changes with every loop; it creates a spot the difference mystery with this style.

Great examples of this:

Henry, The Time Traveler’s Wife

Everyone, When The Cicadas Cry series

Alan and Nadia, Russian Doll

Samantha, Before I Fall

Found Footage

A well-worn horror trope, the found footage trope uses videos captured of a particular event to guide the viewer through a terrifying scenario. Using found footage lends credence or added dread to the events shown, especially since those who filmed it are usually dead or missing when the footage is found. The viewer scours each moment hoping to see the Big Bad or find clues about how the people within the footage went missing or were killed. Found footage is another one that is difficult to get right in modern times and really pays off if done well.

Great examples of this:

Hell House LLC

Paranormal Activity

The Troll Hunter

The Villain Wins

You will most often see this trope in fanfiction and video games with ‘bad’ endings. In a world filled to the brim with happy endings and thwarted evil, why not take a peek at the other side of what could have been? While seeing everything go to hell and what the world would look like should the enemy prevail can be fun, I prefer it if it feels bittersweet. How different would things be? Would the villain winning make the world a better place? What would happen to the protagonists in this alternative scenario? I recommend writing an ending where the villain wins just to see where you end up - another fun writing exercise.

Great examples of this:

The VVitch


Final Destination

What do you think of these tropes? Did I miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments or on our social media!

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