Embrace the TROPES: The Puzzle Plot

A rare and a daunting trope, the Puzzle Trope requires just the right storyline. As its name entails, the Puzzle Trope is a series of puzzle pieces. The writer feeds the reader mere crumbs of the story and its actual facts, never giving the reader a full picture. Or in the worst case scenario (or best, depending how you view it) the writer gives the reader just enough of a picture that the reader makes incorrect assumptions. Plenty of mind-screwing potential here. The best writing is when other puzzle pieces are laid bare for the reader but are missed in the complexity until the final reveal.

When played out to its best, this offers the book and/or novel series re-readability. I guarantee that a second reading of a series that utilizes the Puzzle Trope will not read exactly as the first. You will see the puzzle pieces that the writer gave as well as the pieces that the writer left hidden along the way.

Fan theories are often plentiful, and this trope works ridiculously well in series formats. Not just relegated to the Mystery genre, I feel that the best novels that utilize this trope are those outside of the Mystery genre. Perhaps the best example would be Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. I promise, reading this series a second time through will leave you wondering how you did not notice some of the details.

Examples in other popular media forms include video games Kingdom Hearts and Bioshock. In TV series there is the ever popular Once Upon a Time, Lost, and Heroes.


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