I've come across several fantasy books and stories where the characters recognize a divine/supernatural force in their world which often referred to as "the narrative" or "the story". In such stories, narrative-aware characters are often clever enough to figure out if they're "on the side of the narrative" or "against the narrative". For example (and for more you can read some examples here):

  • A villain knows better than to kill a hero "offscreen" or by being thrown off a cliff as heroes typically survive something like that so they can have their revenge later

  • A character needs to approach a witches hut or something and through their knowledge of "narrative", they know they will need to face three trials (or some other magic number)

  • A heroic character knows that if they say something like "go on without me, I'll hold them back" they'll suddenly have a much easier time holding back some threat while their friends escape

  • The evil empire funds orphanages and makes sure orphans are well cared for in order to prevent them from having tragic backstories and turning into heroes

Specific stories I've encountered this narrative-awareness in include:

  • Second Hand Curses by Drew Hayes
  • A Practical Guide to Evil by ErraticErrata

My question: Does this genre/technique have a specific name?

  • Would this be another example of what you're looking for? (Just checking whether I've got the idea correctly. The original story has apparently been taken down, so I'm linking to my Q&A about it which includes a relevant excerpt.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:23
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor It's close but not quite. Characters in the genre I'm looking for don't believe that they are fictional or that there's a higher power in the form of an author; they simply believe that narrative tropes/rules are fundamental aspects of their reality (usually justified in-world by some deities or whatever). I'm not looking for stories where characters interact with their author
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:38
  • Ah, so not really breaking the fourth wall then. If you've read the Belgariad/Malloreon series by David Eddings, would that count? (If you haven't, there's two Purposes in conflict over the ultimate state of the universe, and until their conflict is resolved, everything sort of continues in the same vein, lots of things happening very similar to other things that have happened before. Cynically, it's an awesome in-universe excuse for the author to skimp on imagination and repeat similar scenes and character names multiple times.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:44
  • @Randal'Thor I haven't read those books but from what I understand, that's not quite what I'm looking for. Maybe it would be best to describe it as a story with genre-savvy characters? tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GenreSavvy
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 18:09


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