The Appeal of the Mystery Genre Essay

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Question One: At the beginning of the semester I wrote in my personal information handout that I felt what made the mystery genre stand apart from all other genres was its ability to keep the reader/watcher on the edge of their seat wanting more information. That mysteries are unpredictable, making the reader/watcher stay until the end because they must know the ending. I still feel this way, but my understanding of this concept has certainly evolved and sharpened. First and foremost, the concept of keeping the audience on the edge of their seat wanting more is driven by epistemic sequencing. This concept, described by Talmy, is the idea of “who knows what when” and is very crucial to the mystery genre and in keeping the audience…show more content…
He states in Chapter One, Part Four, “for one thing, we know that narrative in all its forms is a dialectic between what was expected and what came to pass. For there to be a story, something unforeseen must happen” (15). Unforeseen is the key word in this quote by Burner and is crucial to the mystery genre. Within mystery twists and turns occur, red herrings take the audience down the wrong path, and the audience plays detective, but for it to be a true mystery, something unforeseen must occur. This unforeseen occurrence is what keeps the audience on the edge of their seat and coming back for more. It is common knowledge that the detectives cannot find the murderer only 20 minutes into the episode or 50 pages into the book and while the audience certainly enjoys being correct when the killer is revealed, continuously being correct would ruin the allure of the genre. It is stories such as The Murders in Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe that keep the readers on their feet with the unforeseen. When first reading Poe's story, I would have never guessed that an orangutang committed the murder and I am sure many other readers felt the same way, which draws us into the story. Further, Stockwell's concept of cognitive deixis also plays an important role in keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. Their are five types of cognitive
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