Right now, a lot of people are working on their holiday gift lists. Some people are already done! I am lucky enough to know several authors, so I thought it’d be nice to make a special effort to get my writer friends something that they’d really appreciate. I wasn’t sure where to start, but I’d seen advertisements for The Trope Shoppe, so I decided to go there. After all, every writer can use inspiration, right?
The Trope Shoppe was very attractive inside, with beautifully paneled walls, thick carpets, and plush booths with leather seats. As soon as I walked in, a woman in an expensive-looking suit with an elegant chignon came over to greet me. ‘Welcome to The Trope Shoppe,’ she said with a brilliant, veneered smile. ‘I’m Cleo Shay, the owner. How can I help you?’
‘Hello,’ I answered. ‘I’m looking for exactly the right gift for some of my writer friends, and I thought that getting them some tropes might be just the thing.’
Cleo smiled again. ‘That’s a wonderful, generous idea! You’ve come to the right place, too. We have a huge selection of tropes, many at a very affordable price. And you can test-drive any trope you’d like at one of our sampling booths.’ She gestured towards the booths. ‘We offer short examples of each trope, so you know what you’re getting.’
‘That sounds great.’
‘Now, let’s sit down and talk about your needs.’
We walked over to her office-sized desk and sat down. Cleo reached into a drawer and pulled out a sample album. ‘What sort of trope did you have in mind?’
‘Well,’ I thought a minute, ‘I have several friends who write crime fiction, so maybe a good crime fiction trope?’
‘Excellent choice! We’ve got several of those.’ She opened her book and flipped through some of the pages until she got to the one she wanted. ‘Here’s one of our most popular items – the ‘young girls go missing’ trope. You can’t go wrong with that one.’
‘Hmmm, I’m not sure. I think there are some real issues with that trope, especially if it’s not used well.’
‘Not a problem,’ Cleo reassured me. Then she lowered her voice. ‘Just as well, to tell you the truth. We’re out of stock right now on that one, so we’d have to backorder.’
‘Can I see some of your other tropes?’ I wanted to know.
‘Absolutely! Here’s another real winner. Cleo turned the album around so I could see it and she smiled eagerly. ‘What do you think?’ Her smile dimmed when she saw my facial expression.
‘I don’t know. The mindless serial killer trope has been used in so many books and series! And sometimes it’s used in a violent, gory way.’
‘You might be interested to know that we offer two varieties of this trope: the gory serial killer and the flashbacks-of-abuse serial killer. Lots of possibilities there.’
I was beginning to wonder if I’d come to the right place. ‘You know,’ I finally said, ‘I’m still not sure about this one. Could we look at others?’
‘Of course. I’ll just mark this one as a ‘maybe.’’
Cleo turned a few more pages on the album and then stopped again. ‘I’ve got the perfect thing!’ She gave me another brilliant smile. ‘How about our de luxe body count trope? Readers love body counts, and this trope comes with a guarantee of at least five deaths, with five different murder methods, at no extra cost. Our premium version allows for up to 20 bodies!’
‘Well,’ I tried to think of a way to be polite. ‘I know body counts are popular, and I’m sure publishers like that.’
‘You see? Your writer friends will bring the big money in with this trope.’
‘I’m just not sure that one’s what I’m really looking for.’
Cleo looked at me for a minute. I was obviously not the sort of customer she was used to serving. ‘You know what?’ She got another idea. ‘I almost forgot to show you this one!’ She flipped two more pages of the album and turned the book towards me again. ‘This would make any writer’s year!’
I looked at the page. ‘Dysfunctional detectives,’ I said half to myself. ‘There certainly are a lot of those!’
‘There sure are!’ she agreed. ‘And this trope comes with a wide variety of dysfunctions, too. Your writer friends can choose from among alcoholism, drugs, gambling addiction, estranged family, and five other serious dysfunctions. It’s an author’s dream!’
‘Hmmm…. Do you have any tropes where the sleuth is functional?’
‘Oh, better than that! We also offer a terrific superhero sleuth trope. That one comes in a few varieties, too. You can choose practically psychic deductions, superhuman strength, and even perfect lives.’
Now I was sure this wasn’t going to be the place for me, but I thought I’d try just one last time to describe the sort of thing I was looking for. ‘What I think I really want is a good evolving character trope. Or maybe a credible motive trope. Do you carry anything like that?’
Cleo started at me blankly for a moment. Her brows furrowed. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard of those. Are they new?’
‘No,’ I shook my head. ‘Just hard to find.’
Maybe I’ll just get my author friends gift vouchers for a stationery store. I won’t even have to pay shipping costs…
12 thoughts on “A Visit to the Trope Shoppe ;-)”
Oh, Margot, this is brilliant. One does get so tired of tropes. Perhaps that’s why I so appreciate Donna Leon and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
Thank you, LJ! I’m so glad you liked this. And I’m with you; tropes do get tiresome. I always respect the way Leon manages to make her books feel fresh, even after so many of them. Herrod-Eagles can do it, too.
So inventive, Margot:)
Thank you, Becky! 😀
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As I start out the door Cleo shouts to me. “Don’t leave. We are having a special on ending tropes”.
I walked back into the store.
Cleo says, “How about cliffhanger tropes”. We have enough in stock for a whole series!”
“Hmmmm ….. no thanks. I like a book by book resolution to my crime reading.”
Undaunted Cleo says, “Okay, then what about the kill all the suspects until we only have the killer trope?”
“Definitely not. Too close to the deluxe body counts trope.”
“Well, I saved the best for last” says Cleo, “our best buys of the year are locked room mysteries tropes. We call them the John Dickson Carr Special and the Carter Dickson Special and the Carr Dickson Special. Most connoisseurs of the genre consider Carr superior to the two Dickson’s”.
“Finally, tropes for me.” With a twitching smile I continue. “I’ll take a John Dickson Carr Special though I have a hard time telling the difference from the Dickson Specials.”
(Excellent post Margot, the Trope Shoppe is quite a place.)
Now that’s the sort of trope I could use, Bill! I wonder if the Trope Shoppe is offering all three of the Dickson/Carr special for a reduced rate? You know, buy all three and get a package rate? I ought to find that out! It’s better than the dysfunctional detective trope!
(Thanks for that great addition, Bill. You really made my post better!)
Wonderful Margot! That dreadful Shoppe has all the tropes I hate in crime fiction – so glad you decided to avoid it!!! 🤣
Thanks, KBR! 😊 Those are tropes I really dislike, myself, so yes, I think gift vouchers are a much better idea! 😉
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LOL! Margot that was so clever and very funny. I loved how you poked gentle fun at us crime readers and writers. The Dysfunctional detective and choice of dysfunctions was especially great. It’s a good job we can laugh at ourselves!
Thank you, Cath! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. And, yes, it is always good to be able to poke a bit of gentle fun. Agatha Christie did it herself! A laugh from time to time is a healthy thing, I think.
Hahahaha, brilliant! I’m guessing they’ve had a big discount on the dysfunctional detective trope! But an even bigger one on the first-person present-tense narrator trope! And maybe they’ve been running a Buy 2 Get 1 Free offer on the Multiple POV Trope… 😉
Thank you, FictionFan! 😊 And you know, I think you must be right about the first person, present tense narrator. Of course, I’m not sure how they keep it in stock with how popular it is… And I’ve heard they’re about to launch a just-before-Christmas special on the multiple POV trope. That one’s going to be a sure winner! 😉
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