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Is the 'two unconnected things actually are' trope more common, or am I just noticing it more?

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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 12:46 PM
Original message
Is the 'two unconnected things actually are' trope more common, or am I just noticing it more?
Edited on Sat Aug-21-10 01:37 PM by X_Digger
My wife and I were talking recently about a trope that we've both started noticing more and more.

I see it a lot in recent sci-fi and fantasy literature- within the first couple of chapters a sub-plot will be introduced, usually presented as innocuous or mere character development. The main plot will carry along until at some point, there's a revelation that the two plots are actually two facets of the same situation. Successful conclusion of the conflict / problem / mystery doesn't happen until the main character's integration of these initially separate plots.

I recently started recognizing the same thing in television shows. This morning I was catching up on the syfy channel's Eureka, and I realized that this whole show is built on this trope. Something from the first ten minutes will end up being the solution to the problem du jour.

Am I just noticing it more, or is it really more prevalent?

eta: And yes, I know it's the "chekhov's gun" trope- http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitlexn9xzs...
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-23-10 12:58 AM
Response to Original message
1. Can you be more specific?
Name some specific novels, perhaps?
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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-23-10 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Let's see..
Edited on Mon Aug-23-10 03:46 PM by X_Digger
anything written by Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, etc.

eta: Simon R. Green's Nightside series comes to mind, as do many Charles de Lint titles.

It's gotten so bad that I'm looking for the 'gun' rather than enjoying the character development.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-24-10 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Since I haven't read any of the authors
you've named, I've missed that development.

I have not noticed it in what I've been reading. Then again, it's possible I simply haven't noticed it, even if it's happening. I may just accept it as current normal plot development.

I do notice the books that seem to be written with the Made For TV Movie in mind.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-24-10 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Sadly true
Too often novels are written in a grossly cinematic style, so much so that you can almost hear the author salivating at the prospect of selling the book to Hollywood. Michael Crichton is perhaps the most egregious offender in this regard, at least in my (somewhat limited) experience, but it's terribly pervasive. Even such beloved authors as Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling are guilty of it.

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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-25-10 08:10 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Pratchett & Crichton love Chekhov's gun..
Edited on Wed Aug-25-10 08:40 AM by X_Digger
In The Colour of Magic, Rincewind rescues a small frog from the ocean that ends up saving his life later.

Crichton has characters tripping over piles of Chekhov's guns.. In the Lost World, the candy wrapper, the neurotoxin rifles (a literal one, that.)

Rowling uses quite a few of these too- the one that immediately pops to mind is Dumbledore talking about the properties of Fawkes the phoenix, whose tears later save Harry.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-25-10 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. That's all true, of course, but...
I prefer the version of "Chekhov's Gun" that simply posits that an item should not be conspicuously placed in a scene unless it is (or later becomes) essential to the story.

The "foregrounded foreshadowing" aspect is entertaining in its own right, but it tends to reduce stories (be they novels, plays, films, or whatever) into scavenger hunts IMO.
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