A top 10 list…how very cliché…

This week’s Writer’s Blogging Circle topic is about clichés — which ones we love and which ones we hate.

Since I can hate and love the same cliché, I’m just going to list various ones that come to mind and talk about what I like and don’t like about them. Because some clichés work for a reason, and other times they simple make you roll your eyes.

1. Manly man vs. damsel in distress – I love manly men in books. Sometimes I even like damsel in distresses. However, I like a smart damsel that occasionally needs a manly man. I also want this manly man to have a sensitive side. What I’m trying to say is, I like when the prince saves the princess, but I don’t like a simpering prat who has been waiting her whole life for said prince.

2. Bad ass chicks in urban fantasy – Seems like everywhere I turn nowadays, there’s a new urban fantasy with a bad ass tough girl. These girls are awesome! I love reading about them; they remind me of being obsessed with Dark Angel back in the day. However, there are times where I feel paranormal/urban fantasied out simply because all these ubr tough chicks kind of read the same. No parents, little responsibility, usually just scraping by and is it just me or are the majority of these girls brunette? Nothing wrong with brunettes (cause I am one) but there are blondes and redheads. They should get some love too.

3. Teenagers finding their soul mates in YA – Specifically this pertains to paranormal YA (though I’m sure there are plenty of other examples I don’t know about). OK, here’s the rub: when I was in high school and had a boyfriend, OMG we were sooo meant to be together forever. THIS IS NOT HOW LIFE WORKS. Sure, some people do marry their high school sweethearts and live a happy, long life together — and that’s cool. The majority of us, however, do not stay with our first love. While I’m OK with YA portraying a girl feeling as though she’s found her soul mate in that mysterious emo kid (who we’re hoping doesn’t sparkle), I’m not OK with YA sending the message that your first love is it. That’s the one and there is no one else.

4. Twilight – ‘Nuff said. These books are nothing but a big, bad cliché that is unfortunately four books long. There is nothing redeeming about these books. Klutzy new girl with hardly any parental ties finds her soul mate in her first love — mysterious emo sparkly vampire douche who’s not only a psycho stalker, but is emotionally abusive. No offense to Twihards out there. Actually, wait. Yes, be offended. You offend me with your poor taste in “literature”.

6. House of Night This series breaks a lot of clichés. Which is probably a reason I like them so much. Girl has parents, has problems with parents. Girl likes boy has first love. But lo and behold, there are more guys and more loves! First love is there, but he’s not the end all be all. HoN > Twilight.

7. Tortured, hot men with a dark past – I’m seeing a lot of these men here lately. And even though they’re cliché, I still love them. The problem here is that it’s sending the message that men will change if you poke and prod into their personal lives too much. This is very NOT true. Still, there’s something irresistable about a tortured soul packing a killer six pack.

8. Six packs and other “packages” – I love how every man in a romance novel is a fucking super model with rock hard, washboard abs and is hung like a stallion. Truth is, all men are not created equal. A romantic hero does not need to have this awesome physical package. Nerdy, normal guys are hot too, you know.

9. Boobies and the lack of belly fat – Likewise, a lot of women in books are 5’7” or taller, slim, athletic and with perky, just-the-right-size boobs. Uhm. This barely needs explaining. Ask any woman, she’ll tell you that very few women meet that criteria. In fact, most women wear a size 12, not a size 2.

10. Cliques in YA – YA filters their characters into cliques, and I can’t recall any YA that features a character who is a part of more than one clique. The cheerleaders and jocks are always dumb and mean, the drama geeks are always weird, the band nerds always get the short end of the stick, etc. Maybe way back when these cliques were realistic representations of what went on in school. However, today, while cliques still exist, they’re not nearly as exclusive or stereotypical as books make them seem. I was in band. I was in wrestling (hell, I STARTED the girl’s wrestling team at my school). My friends were jocks. They were nerds. One of the smartest kids in school was also a jock. Likewise, a lot of jocks were also in band or drama. Some cheerleaders were also goths and punks. Most of the mean kids were kids who were not involved with school in anyway and put themselves on the fringe. The point here is, cliques are cliché, and it’s rare that I don’t role my eyes when reading about certain characters being labeled a certain way because of the clique they are in.

I could go on and on about this, but then I wouldn’t have a catchy, cliché blog title. Thus, I’m passing the soapbox over to Cid, who’ll tackle this topic tomorrow.

How about you? What literary clichés do you love/hate?

5 responses

  1. Let’s save six packs but I am sick and bored of “Tortured, hot men with a dark past “… can’t help rolling my eyes when they appear on page “on no not another”… it hasn’t always been like this but lately I am desperate for refreshing ya/fantasy characters.
    However I have nothing against Bad ass chicks. Love your list !

    August 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    • I hear you, Emily. A lot of characters in a lot of genres seem to be recycled. I suppose it’s because they “work” for these genres, but at the same time…the ones that work do so because there is something subtly different.

      It’s important for writers to remember that sometimes, change is good.

      And I love bad ass chicks, but I think they should be different from one another. Who says a mom can’t be a bad ass in her spare time?

      August 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm

  2. Oh man. You touch on some serious points! I especially agree with number 1. Number 4 just cracks me up. 🙂

    August 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    • I couldn’t resist taking a stab at #4.

      August 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  3. Pingback: Question of the Week: Literary Cliche’s We Love and Hate. « LM Dershem

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