July 29, 2021 - Tropes

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Today was fun. One of the prep exercises for the Plan a Series Challenge is listed as “Brain Dump/Mind Map of Ideas.” This has three items:

  • Story ideas
  • Character types
  • Tropes

The first is the most difficult for me, since I think of a “story” as the entire novel, with all the twists and turns a reader expects in a mystery. So I didn’t quite feel up to doing that assignment.

But character types? That’s a whole other ball of wax, especially because in going through my various resources on plotting a mystery, I ran across a list of stereotypical villains. The ones that most appealed to me were the prodigal son/black sheep, the fake friend, red is for revenge (I’m not sure why red.), the femme fatale, the equal, and the bully. 

Most of all, I liked the fake friend, probably because I’ve been watching Scott & Bailey on BritBox, which is about two female investigators on the Major Incident Team. Because the focus is on the women, this police procedural has a lot more emotional content than is usual, and a recent situation proves that one character is a fake friend. So I’d seen this trope in action very recently, and liked the ramifications of it.

The villain often defines a mystery story, and reading about these types started my brain percolating situations that could use them. But I wasn’t quite ready to deal with story ideas yet.

So I moved on to tropes. If you ever want to waste—errrr—spend a few hours browsing online, go to tvtropes.org and start reading. I’ve done this before for mystery tropes, but I wanted to take a look at western tropes and discovered there’s also a crime category separate from mystery. I copied two and a half pages of different tropes into my notebook.

I also came up with scenarios for five books. Five? I thought this challenge was to plan four books in your series? Well, yeah, but I couldn’t help myself. While doing all this immersion in characters and tropes, I was also thinking about situations that would lead to a group of suspects to be in one location for a period of time with few or no outside characters and possibilities that could lead to one character killing another. I initially stopped at the required four, but had one more idea that I didn’t want to forget. So I added another book to this new series in Plottr.

I can’t wait to find out what I dream up tomorrow!

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A Clash of Kings
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