Synonym for satisfying?
January 22, 2012 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there a single word for finding pleasure in well done formulaic stories not because they are doing something new or even being particularly clever, but because they hit the notes well, manage the tropes, and deliver what they promise?

I've been watching a lot of very entertaining "genre exercises" lately and a bit annoyed that I have to use adverbs to explain this type of pleasure in predictability. Workmanlike and journeyman sound dismissive, and " satisfying" and " well crafted" aren't strong enough to convey this joy I'm getting in seeing stock plots and characters executed gracefully and " makes cliches fresh" is an awkward. Is there a word for this? Something that comes close?
posted by The Whelk to Writing & Language (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Masterful. Adept. Dextrous. Well-composed. Crackerjack.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think there is a specific word (in English) that covers all of that, but I usually say comfortable and/or charming* to describe TV with those traits.

See, Castle, Bones, etc...
posted by grapesaresour at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2012

How about solid? Or synonyms like sturdy? Or as your title suggests, satisfying? Satisfy is good because it includes the idea of meeting requirements, which generic stories must do.
posted by cgc373 at 3:56 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Not a single word, but when I worked in romance novels a long time ago, this was known as "putting peaches in the peach can."
posted by apparently at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]

Principled, archetypal, prototypical...
posted by mochapickle at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2012

satiating? fulfilling?
posted by hippybear at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2012

effective? well-executed?
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:32 PM on January 22, 2012

posted by Nomyte at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2012

Archetypical and quintessential.
posted by Fen at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2012

I sometimes use "harmless" to mean this, though usually with slightly negative connotations. I agree with others that "comfortable" or (dare I say) "fun" works for what you're intending.
posted by Zephyrial at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2012

I am stuck on food-related ones - Bread-and-butter? Good plain cooking?
posted by gingerest at 4:46 PM on January 22, 2012


oh, wait: dated reference...
posted by Badmichelle at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2012

Exemplary, especially the 3rd and 4th senses of the word.
posted by logicpunk at 5:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure if it works on its own, however.
posted by mephisjo at 5:37 PM on January 22, 2012

Tropetastic? Troperiffic?
posted by gregglind at 5:41 PM on January 22, 2012

Well, the dreaded tv tropes has stuff like 'genre aware' and 'what it says on the tin'. self-aware? genre-exceeding?
posted by Jacen at 5:53 PM on January 22, 2012

It is my understanding that this is what Jeff Koons is referring to in a lot of ways when he talks about "banality."
posted by cmoj at 6:15 PM on January 22, 2012

I often have the same reaction and my word for it is "well-crafted", but I see you considered that phrase not strong enough. I suggest you reconsider! Craftsmanship deserves to be highly valued.
posted by dfan at 6:22 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I propose "comfortrope".
posted by DaddyNewt at 7:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like cgc373's suggestion of satisfying. When I encounter something like this, I always say that it "scratches my itch for _______ ", but really that's just saying plain satisfaction in a slightly roundabout way.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:24 PM on January 22, 2012

I really doubt there's a word that specifically means the pleasure you get from these things. I would focus on describing the works themselves, and then just say they were pleasing, satisfying, etc. Some words I'd use to describe such works:

- thoroughgoing
- warhorse
- standby
- classic
- idiomatic
posted by John Cohen at 7:38 PM on January 22, 2012

posted by pompomtom at 7:55 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is tough, but I think that constant used as an adjective can have a positive connotation for something that is dependably good, in a values sense.

See here, definition number four, as a synonym for faithful:

Steadfast in purpose, loyalty, or affection; faithful.

This is the sense of the title of the movie The Constant Gardner, I think.

It might be a stretch, but in your case, the story might be said to be constant to the genre formulas, which you note is a positive value judgment.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:30 PM on January 22, 2012

You can say that it's like classical opera: everybody knows the story, and they can barely understand the words even if they know the language. It's about execution, discovering new facets, and interpretation.
posted by amtho at 9:05 PM on January 22, 2012

...and appreciating the skill of the artists, and how this new production builds on all that has come before.
posted by amtho at 9:06 PM on January 22, 2012

posted by cmoj at 9:22 PM on January 22, 2012

I've been thinking about this more and the new word is REASSURING. It's reassuring to curl up and watch an episode play out the way it oughtta.
posted by mochapickle at 10:56 PM on January 22, 2012

I'm not sure why "workmanlike" won't do -- it's exactly what your looking for and not usually used negatively (or at least not any more negatively than your "[not] doing something new or even being particularly clever" qualifier).

Merriam-Webster sez:

"competent and skillful but not outstanding or original"
posted by Rhaomi at 11:11 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by venividivici at 11:27 PM on January 22, 2012

"That hit the spot"
posted by rollick at 12:36 AM on January 23, 2012

"Known quantity"?
posted by jbickers at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2012

I can't think of a good single word for the "appreciation of well-done genre exercises." The closest I can come up with is "connoisseurship." And I ran across a new-to-me word, "virtu" (no relation to the phone), meaning a work of art or curio that is appreciated for its exemplary qualities.
posted by adamrice at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Exemplary is the right word in a denotative sense, but most people probably won't take your meaning. I usually use the somewhat backhanded phrase "perfect for what it was."
posted by 256 at 9:32 AM on January 23, 2012

"Solid" tends to work for me. If I see the words "A solid thriller" leading into a review, I can immediately surmise that it's a three-star affair that does what it's supposed to, and doesn't strain to be innovative or world-changing. Less a piece of art than a well-built, dependable machine.
posted by Smallpox at 10:20 AM on January 23, 2012

« Older Ex-smoker + wine = oh dear!   |   Should I let my boyfriend sleep with other women? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.