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Wrong Genre Savvy / Literature

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  • Older Than Steam: Don Quixote's madness is a version of this. He is severely delusional and believes he is in a Chivalric Romance. Sadly for him, This Is Reality. While Reality Ensues, so does hilarity.
  • Nightfall (Series): Myra’s knowledge of the outside world is based on a very limited collection of books. She imagines herself a hero on a quest. It doesn’t take her long to realize she’s in the wrong genre.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
  • Jane Austen: Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey. She admires a sinister-looking old mansion and, inspired by her Gothic novels, gets the idea that her host has killed his wife. Actually she's in a Regency romance and her love interest, the son of the man she suspects, isn't pleased about her thoughts.
    • John Meade Falkner's The Nebuly Coat has a deliberate inversion of this. Anastasia Joliffe thinks of herself as an Austen heroine, and is even reading Northanger Abbey when she first meets Lord Blandamer. However, Anastasia is in a Gothic novel, and doesn't realise the true reason for Lord Blandamer's interest in her.
  • Being a science fiction author, the protagonist of Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is completely prepared to deal with an artificial world created and inhabited by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have resurrected humans for an elaborate Sadist Show (in a possible Take That! at Farmer's Riverworld)... but not exactly prepared to deal with a mythical, supernatural Ironic Hell, literally matching the one from Dante's The Divine Comedy, which is where he really is.
  • Overlapping with Death by Genre Savviness, the Villain Protagonist of Malice Aforethought is knowledgeable of mystery stories and real-life spousal murderers, and aims to commit the perfect murder. What he overlooks, is that everyone else who tried to do this has failed. He also buys into the stereotype of the police as morons, which while often true in Genteel Interbellum Setting fiction, isn't true of the police inspector he encounters.
  • In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax's sister Lilith invokes the power of stories and tries to twist Genua into a fairy tale. She casts herself as the Fairy Godmother of the story, and is fully convinced that she is the good guy. But Discworld is a deconstruction of stories, so ultimately she's just a cruel woman who meddles with peoples' lives to fit her twisted ideals. Lilith's mistake was believing that she was the Good Witch and Granny was the Bad Witch. Granny Weatherwax tells her that it's the other way around.
    • Malicia Grim of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents initially has the same problem, expecting everything and everyone to fit into fairy tale and children's literature tropes which are too simple and unexamined for a Pratchett novel. Occasionally she gets the basic elements right, but even then the details are more complex than she was expecting.
  • The Laundry Files:
    • In The Rhesus Chart, Mhari and her fellow young vampires are Wrong Genre Savvy when designing tests to determine the setting's position on the Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness, leading them to conclude that they have much more leeway to be friendly than they actually do. It's later determined that older vampires are deliberately spreading incorrect vampire tropes.
    • In the following book The Annihilation Score, magical powers begin to manifest in ordinary civilians, through a subconscious version of the series's Ritual Magic. Because comic book style superheroes and villains fit better with the general public's worldview than interdimensional eldritch magic, the public at large views these powers through this lens (at least in the United Kingdom; it is mentioned in passing that other parts of the world have other, similarly Wrong Genre Savvy interpretations). The empowered are Blessed with Suck in about the same way as other magic users in the series, worse in that most ordinary ritual magicians at least have some understanding that their magic is Cast from Lifespan.
  • In the Wild Cards novel Card Sharks, Harvey Melmouth, an Ace known as The Librarian, viewed his participation in the Iranian hostage crisis rescue mission as bad adventure fiction, and was thus certain that he wouldn't die. Unfortunately, he turned out to be part of a gritty spy thriller. On the positive side, his failure to take things seriously lead him to cross a street standing straight rather than hunched over like his fellow team member, Jay Ackroyd. As a result, he was the taller target and was thus the guy who got shot in an ambush, ensuring that the mission critical teleporter wasn't taken out and thereby saving most of the remaining team when things went completely FUBAR.
  • Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey includes a story about a mysterious old man who has spent twenty years alone in the mountains inventing a humane musical mousetrap. The Centerburg residents are impressed with his similarity to a storybook character and, once the librarians determine the most fitting one, refer to him patronizingly as Rip Van Winkle. It isn't until all the children in Centerburg are following his musical mousetrap out of town that they realize he's a lot more like The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
  • The Dragaera novel Athyra is told from the perspective of Savn, a Teckla peasant training to be a "physicker". Savn is definitely aware of narrative conventions, as part of a physicker's job is knowing stories to tell patients to distract them from the pain of medical treatment. From Savn's perspective, Vlad is the stock fantasy mentor character, a mysterious and kind of strange character who shows up in the hero's backwater town and introduces them to adventure. Unfortunately for Savn, he's not a character in a straight Heroic Fantasy: he's in a Black and Gray Morality Dungeon Punk series, and Vlad's the protagonist, not him. Needless to say, Savn doesn't get a happy ending.
  • Lampshaded Trope: Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files understands the importance of identifying his genre. From Dead Beat:
    The trick was to figure out which movie I was in. If this was a variant on High Noon, then walking outside was probably a fairly dangerous idea. On the other hand, there was always the chance that I was still in the opening scenes of The Maltese Falcon and everyone trying to chase down the bird still wanted to talk to me. In which case, this was probably a good chance to dig for vital information about what might well be a growing storm around the search for The Word of Kemmler.
  • Ender's Game: During Ender's flight to the Battle School, he immediately recognizes Colonel Graff's Drill Sergeant Nasty routine from war movies he's watched, an act to get the soldiers to unite through the mutual anger towards their unkind commander. Unfortunately for him, this isn't a war movie about battlefield camaraderie but a novel about, among other things, the isolation inherent in being a gifted child. Graff deviates from the routine and praises Ender and tells the others how insignificant they are compared to him. Graff is uniting the soldiers through mutual anger towards Ender, forcing the poor kid to be isolated so that he has no choice but to rely on himself. Ender realizes too late that Graff has turned him into the Teacher's Pet, and therefore the team scapegoat.
  • In "The Macbeth Murder Mystery" by James Thurber, a woman who reads nothing but detective novels accidentally picks up a paperback copy of Macbeth. Quickly realizing that Macbeth must be a Red Herring — because Macbeth is shown going in to commit murder on Duncan, but the action cuts away without showing the murder itself, which is a sure sign he didn't actually do it — she sets out to apply her knowledge of murder mystery tropes to figure out who really did it.
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer convinces Huck and Jim that they can't just sneak Jim out in the night, instead mashing every Great Escape trope he can think of together into one ridiculously complex (and redundant) plan because it's not worth doing if they can't do it like in the books. All this accomplishes is to put Jim's captors on guard. Furthermore, Tom knew of an even simpler solution than Huck's: just inform the captors, truthfully and with evidence, that Jim was a free man. But doing it this way was more fun.
  • Howl's Moving Castle: It is mentioned at the start that this is a world which runs on the logic of fairytales, or at least this is widely believed. This is the reason Sophie gives herself at the start for not taking risks to improve her fortune: as the eldest of three sisters, she would fail as a setup for the youngest to succeed. What follows is much closer to Fractured Fairy Tale, as many familiar elements are there but they never quite work as expected.
  • Madame Bovary: Emma, after growing up reading many romance novels, wants the world to be like romance novels, and acts as if it is. This ends up leading to the ruination of her and her family, since she's actually in a realistic and very cynical deconstruction of them.


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