I'm a person who likes to take things apart to see how they work, and someone who likes to poke holes in ideas. As a result, it's not surprising that I've always been drawn to a writing style that likes to deconstruct* plot elements and look at their implications.
However, at the same time I've become very aware of some of the downsides of deconstructive tendencies in writing. Perhaps the biggest one is that, unless you're very very careful, deconstructions run the risk of being not fun to read. A lot of fiction is about escapism or providing hope to people (e.g., the superhero or romance genres), and a lot of times deconstructing those stories means telling the readers why their escapism and hope is bad or morally inconsistent. It's the equivalent of telling someone trying to enjoy a hamburger how they're a bad person for eating it, or that it's full of trans fats, or describing in detail how much the cow suffered as they try to enjoy their meal, basically being a total buzzkill. Which is bad if the promises of the genre are to entertain the reader.
The other problem is that deconstructions are fundamentally destructive, because they're about taking things apart. However, the problem is if you are too harsh in your deconstruction, you end up killing or crippling the story because no one can ever enjoy it again. Sort of like what Watchmen did to superheroes or Neon Genesis Evangelion did to giant robots: the genre sort of recovered but its optimism and idealism were completely lost and the works left a permanent scar.
Indeed, I heard this said in relation to Watchmen, which described the situation very well: Deconstruction is like surgery or dissection. You can take apart something fully to understand how it works, but to do so you end up killing the subject, and you can't stitch the dissected parts back again and expect it to be alive. If you want your subject to remain alive by the end of the procedure, you must restrain from dissecting it fully.
Deconstruction can be good; indeed, any new work must subvert at least some elements of its predecessors to avoid telling the same stories (e.g., Spider-Man subverted a lot of the superhero tropes that were common up until its time), but overdoing it results in a work that no one wants to read. E.g., I noted that if I really wanted to take apart the genre I'm working with I'd have to make several decisions that would result in a story full of unlikable people doing unsympathetic things, and ultimately lead to a nihilistic tragedy that leaves the audience depressed and unsatisfied. That's bad.
The Case Study
The use of the Masquerade trope in fiction, i.e. the old idea about having a secret world filled with magic and stuff kept hidden from the "muggles". The psychological reasons why a masquerade appeals to readers are fairly clear (it makes the story feel more "real" if it is set in ostensibly our world, and it makes the readers feel like they are special to be let in on a secret that no one else knows), but the problem is that the trope is so flimsy there is no way it could remain hidden.
- The only way the masquerade could reasonably be maintained is if the people maintaining it engaged in cold-blooded murder of innocents. There would always be some people who had a bad encounter with the supernatural, demonstrable proof of their encounter, and a strong enough moral compass who could never be convinced or coerced into keeping a secret. Memory wiping spells or technology wouldn't be enough because there would be surviving physical evidence (photos/writings/video) and big chunks of time missing. If someone who has been in contact with the supernatural for years gets memory wiped, do they lose years of their memory?
- Sometimes use of a government coverup is used (e.g., the MIB in Men in Black), but this creates a broader issue in that such a thing would leave an obvious paper trail and if the secret is worldwide competing nations would never agree to keep such a thing secret, instead deliberately breaking the masquerade in the hopes that the resulting chaos destabilizes their geopolitical rivals. E.g., the USSR or U.S. revealing that the supernatural exists to try and destabilize the other during the Cold War.
- Similarly, the secret societies in these stories (from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the Masquerade in Vampire: The Masquerade) are often horrendously corrupt or barbaric, and people are often forced to join them (e.g., turned into a supernatural, or the commonly used Call to Adventure in most urban fantasies like The Mortal Instruments). This kind of society is almost guaranteed to produce disgruntled individuals with no desire to uphold the status quo and have nothing to lose, and hence nothing to stop them wanting to see the whole system burn out of spite. Made worse by the fact that their very existence can be used to break the masquerade, all they have to do is start performing supernatural feats on live television in front of a sizeable audience. Notably, while in some cases like Vampire: The Masquerade the protagonists are supposed to be monsters, in many cases this same situation arises with characters or groups that are supposed to be seen as heroic, sympathetic, or otherwise non-monstrous, in worlds that are not supposed to be nihilistic and depressing (e.g., Harry Potter).
All of this suggests that the "best" way to deconstruct this trope is to engineer a situation where a character is shanghaied into a supernatural world, only to watch the so-called "good guys" perform increasingly worse actions to maintain secrecy to demonstrate how maintaining a masquerade would require people to take monstrous actions, then have the brutality and misery of the supernatural world take their toll on the character until they snap and go on a rampage attempting to break the masquerade. The character is at the bottom rung of supernatural society despite being drawn into it against their will, and hence they want to take everyone with them and have nothing to lose. This is also because people find tragedy more memorable than happy endings (i.e., humans are wired to recognize danger). The best way to show how unworkable a masquerade is would be to show how it causes nothing but suffering and misery yet its actions are utterly futile to maintain the status quo. This would be the logical conclusion of a masquerade (or rather, one of several, but all involve mass suffering and death in ways that aren't friendly to any sense of optimism).
I don't want to write a story like this. This proposed story is nothing but awful people doing awful things to other people in an awful world. There's no reason for the reader to want to read it, especially twice. I like writing about sympathetic and heroic individuals doing things that show their inner positive humanity, and settings that have a light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, due to the cynical, nihilistic, and deconstructive way I view things, I keep noticing holes in my own premise that if followed to their logical conclusion result in endless suffering and misery, and make my intended-to-be sympathetic characters (and not in an "evil but understandable" like Walter White) into evil jerks. It basically shames readers for trying to enjoy their escapist fantasy and tries to leave a bad taste in their mouth.
This is bad because I don't want to "kill" the tropes and genre I'm working with, I'm taking it apart because I love it. In theory what one is supposed to do is reconstruct the parts in a better format, but few do this and I myself have noticed that I'm really good at tearing apart why something won't work, but can't offer any constructive ideas as to what to replace it. And this often makes my own writing sometimes unenjoyable because I'm poking holes in the story as I'm writing it rather than letting myself (or the reader) enjoy the ride.
Deconstruction is useful, but if you're inclined to do nothing but deconstruct you end up with a very demotivating, uninteresting writing style. How does one go about writing a good, interesting story and break the habit of "must deconstruct everything" such that it is possible to produce a story that people find worth reading. Especially if the author is naturally drawn to deconstruct things.
"*" Note, I'm using deconstruction and deconstructivist here to point out the style of writing where authors point out logical contradictions, plot holes, and unintended consequences of certain tropes or broader genre conventions. I know that there are supposedly a couple of conflicting definitions for literary deconstructions floating around and am mentioning this to avoid confusion.