Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Things I wish I didn't know about how plots are structured

In any kind of fiction (lit, movies, whatevs), it usually adds to your enjoyment if you don't know beforehand what the plot is going to reveal. If the author reveals a big twist, it's helpful to actually be surprised. But if you've read enough books or watched enough crime shows/movies, it starts to become easier to figure out what's going to happen. Authors (and crime show writers/producers) are after all human, and seem to keep reproducing many of the same techniques.
(Don't read on if you take spoilers seriously.)
1.    For example:
In Perry Mason books, the beautiful woman who is suspected in the beginning is always innocent of the murder, even though she's probably lying about a dozen other things. Why is she innocent? Because Mason is in lust with her and believes she is, that's why. (Or, to mix worlds, he has, like Hastings, a "beautifully unsuspicious nature," as Poirot would say.)
2.    In a romance, the man (or woman, if the book starts from the man's perspective) who is first described in the most detailed manner is going to be the love interest. Especially if the eyes are praised. Every romance hero/heroine has beautiful eyes.
3.    In a Christie, if a woman is dead it's most likely the husband who killed her. In the beginning it might seem impossible that he did, but it was him nonetheless. (Yes, I can remember at least one exception to this rule.) (Okay, every writer has their own formula and prejudices, whether they're writing mystery or not.) 
4.    In any crime/mystery show, if one person is given a lot of screen time with no apparent reason, he/she's the murderer. If you find yourself thinking why is this dialog with the secretary so long, why don't they move ahead with the story... it's her.
5.    It's especially likely to be her if she's wearing a lot of make up or is presented as what's generally accepted as sexy in the mainstream entertainment industry. 
6.    If it’s a man, it’s most likely the one with weird hair (again, going by the mainstream entertainment industry).
What did I miss?

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