This Metaphorical Bar ep. 6: Bulletproof Tropes – Fake Marriage

Links may be affiliate links that help support the podcast. Our intro comes from

Content: Opens with some lightly descriptive talk about oral surgery.

Production notes: Karen and Robyn both serenade Carla during the Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Bartender, because they are amazing. Robyn had some recording issues. There are a few minor places where she’ll drop a word or two and some popping noises. We apologize and are working on making sure this doesn’t happen in future recordings. (However, we’ve recorded several episodes prior to editing this, so there may be issues in the next few podcasts as well. Where possible, I’ll note anything big that is missing.)

Who We Are

I’m Carla M. Lee, an author, artist, and attorney living in the Midwest USA and I’m pretty much fake married.

I’m Karen Healey, an author and teacher living in Otautahi New Zealand, and I spent over $300 on bras this morning – and not that many of them.

I’m Robyn Fleming, a parent and writer in Tucson, Arizona. I have between four and eight fewer teeth than everyone else in this podcast! I love everyone in this metaphorical bar.

What We’re Drinking

Karen: Martini

Robyn: Mountain Dew

Carla: Mike’s Harder Cherry Lime Hard Cider – Deadpool themed

Episode Summary

Topic: Bulletproof Tropes: Fake Marriage

  • Trope is a theme that runs between different types of media — good guy wears a white hat is a cliched trope, a type of storytelling that shows up in different forms that gives it a familiar structure.
  • Bulletproof trope is a trope that we always want to read or watch because it is something we love, a structure that interests us.
  • Doesn’t have to be marriage, can be just fake relationship — for whatever reason, two people need to pretend to be in a relationship, so they make an agreement to be pretend in love with each other. Question is, will they really fall in love? Of course they will, that is the joy of the trope.
  • Moments we love: forced proximity bed sharing, the almost kiss, the fake kiss turning into a real kiss, the reader/viewer knowing more about what’s happening than the characters in a really good way, fake touch, deep yearning, big misunderstandings without making one or both characters buttheads because they’re just flat not talking out the problem — it’s reasonable in this scenario versus other scenarios, messy emotional fallout — finding their way through awkward feelings, fake relationships coupled with solving crime.
  • How, when writing, do you balance the reader knowing more than the characters without making the reader feel frustrated because the characters are taking too long to catch up?
    • One way is to make it the b plot and not the only plot carrying the story.
    • Also have strong external conflicts in romances.
    • In general, you must have other things happening outside the fake marriage or keep it very short.
  • It would be tricky to write from an omniscient point of view; it is mostly done in first person or very close third — much rarer to see it in sff, and may be because of the structure of the storytelling complicates it.
  • One thing to be careful of is the issue of consent, especially in the forced proximity trope where people share space and it leads to unintentional intimacy that can end up being more intentional than planned.

Things Mentioned in the Episode

Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Bartender

TC Harris: Writing with music, yes or no?

Karen: Not really. Sometimes will listen to a piratical soundtrack when writing action, but no lyrics, except for when writing When We Wake, which was Beatles-heavy.

Robyn: Listens to soundtracks before writing to set the mood, but struggles to write when there are lyrics playing — loud music but then perfect silence for writing.

Carla: Hard yes. Makes all sorts of playlists, music playing almost all the time, lyrics are super important — despite writing a western-influenced book right now, listening to a ton of Meat Loaf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.