Another writing trope that bugs me, this time one I've seen as often in published fiction (and on TV shows) as in submissions:
A character (usually the protagonist) is being asked questions by someone in authority, usually a police officer. The questioner asks them “Tell me about such-and-such,” and the character says, “You already know all about that,” and the questioner says “I want to hear it in your own words.” Or: “Yes, but tell me again.” Or: “If we go over it again, maybe there'll be a detail we missed.”
I have two issues with this trope:
- I don't find it very plausible as dialogue. How often do real-world people ask each other to repeat a story they've just told?
- I don't see the point of it from a storytelling point of view. Why not show us the first time rather than the nth?
It may be that real-world police really do this. The few times I've given a police report, I wasn't asked to tell my story multiple times, but maybe it's common that people do.
But even if that's true, why show it to us? It seems to me that the first time the character tells the story will likely be more engaging than the nth time anyway.
I suppose it's possible that focusing on the nth time allows the character to plausibly tell a more polished and better-organized version of the story, with boring or extraneous details left out. But I don't feel like it's usually written that way.
(Written in 2013, but didn't post 'til now.)
(See also Facebook thread for this post.)