My Favorite Tropes

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Writers, especially authors of genre fiction, love to discuss tropes. Tropes are those “commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.”

One of my author friends is completely hooked on trapped in a cabin during a blizzard with a stranger.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • rain/thunderstorms
  • first kisses in the rain
  • old houses
  • haunted houses
  • twins, especially evil twins
  • secret identity heroes
  • jazz
  • south of France
  • Tuscany
  • Greece
  • wine
  • food

What are the story hooks that pull you in?


MJ Monday-Movies: The Women

My husband thought I would like The Women, a 1939 movie directed by George Cukor, who was known as a woman’s director. The film is based on a play by Clare Luce Booth and adapted for the silver screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin.  There are 130 speaking parts–none of them male. The cast is stellar: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, and so on.

While the movie has only women in it, the story is all about men. That’s all the women talk about. All they think about. Their worlds revolve around the men in their lives. The movie is supposed to be a comedy, a satire of wealthy Manhattan-based women and their marriages. Maybe it was for its time.

Today, I thought it was sad. Pathetic. It also made me angry that the men could be forgiven everything, but if the women had done the same things, they would be ostracized. Again, for the time frame of the movie, this was acceptable.

On the positive side, if my husband hadn’t told me there were no men in the film, I might not have noticed. The actresses conversed directly to the camera as if it were the person to whom they were speaking. The dialogue was scripted in such a way that the viewer understood the male responses as if one had heard them.

Although I didn’t love the movie, watching it wasn’t a waste of time.


Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

To Die For is the first book in a two-part series Linda Howard wrote in first person. The heroine. Blair Mallory, is a ditzy but savvy former cheerleader who now owns her own health club.  A murder at the health club returns her to the attention of a former NFL star-turned homicide detective she once dated three times before he vanished from her life without a word.

We get to tumble around in Blair’s highly disorganized mind. I found I had a lot in common with the health nut Blair. Scary. The laugh-out-loud moments in the book are constant.

Remember the TV show, Heroes, where the tagline was “save the cheerleader, save the world”? That was in 2006. Linda Howard’s (former) cheerleader saved herself in 2005.  Kind of made me wish I’d tried harder to be a cheerleader. (Not really.)

Five stars.

Book Review: Karen Robards-BAIT

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Karen Robards is a master at writing romantic suspense, and her 2004 release Bait is no exception. The heroine is an advertising exec going after a big account. The hero is an FBI agent tracking a serial killer.

The story includes:

  • a mistaken identity
  • a secret identity
  • a great supporting cast (including a secondary romance and Hawaiian shirts)
  • the world’s most obnoxious dog
  • a great apartment for the heroine

I’m a sucker for secret identity heroes. Bait gives the trope an interesting twist.

Four out of five stars.



MJ Monday-Movies: The Big Sick

The first time I viewed The Big Sick I was with my husband. My critique partners and I watched it again on a recent retreat. It’s a good movie. It’s a true story that takes the larger issues we in the US are facing today and brings them down to the personal level.

It’s the story of an aspiring comedian/Uber driver whose family came to the US from Pakistan and an all-American girl who meet and fall in love. But his family and heritage create problems that hurt the heroine. The heroine becomes deathly ill and is hospitalized, bringing her parents into the story.

We see how prejudice often stems from not understanding and that with effort–sometime a lot of effort–we can overcome our preconceived notions. All of this is wrapped up in a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud moments and a happy ending.

Five stars.