Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - paranormal romance cliches

Paranormal romance is a genre with infinite possibilities. Yet we seem to see the same situations and ideas played over and over again. I've heard a lot that the market is over-saturated, but it is still doing good business. Publishers are looking for original ideas. If you're writing a new book, here's a few tips on what to avoid.

1. Predestined soulmates. We want to be loved for our intelligence, charm, and personality. Do we honestly want love to be based on some supernatural and irresistible compulsion? Apparently many people do. This is one of the most popular cliches in paranormal romance. I'm guilty of using this one on a few occasions.

2. I hate you/I love you! Yes, the extreme emotional conflict. The protagonist hates everything about that arrogant man, yet falls in love with him at the same time. It might have to do with the aforementioned compulsion, or maybe with the fact that some of the women don't seem to know their own minds. There has to be something for the protagonist to fall in love with, something for the reader to sympathize with, or else it's silly supernatural nonsense.

3. The hot man that makes the heroine speechless. It seems that too many otherwise strong women are made into drooling schoolgirls in the presence of a gorgeous guy. You would think that all the paranormal romance worlds are filled with such awe-inspiring men.

4. Vampires, werewolves, and angels/demons, oh my! There are other paranormal creatures out there. I'm a sucker for this cliche, though. Overdone as they might be, I still love a good story with any of these creatures.

5. The virgin or the whore. We usually see one extreme or the other with the protagonists. What's wrong with a woman who's had a few boyfriends over the years? She's experienced enough, but not slutty by any means.

What cliches do you hate in paranormal romance? Which ones do you love?

23 comments:

  1. Oh yeah. Guilty as charged. Although, I do love an original vampire story where the guy makes the girl speechless. She is a virgin (or a whore, I'm not picky)and who has been reincarnated with the vampire's soulmate. Hehe. Love it.

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    1. As long as it's well written, I'll eat it up!

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  2. Characters are what draw me. I could care less from what species. =)

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    1. I completely agree. If I don't like the characters, I can't get into the romance.

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  3. I'm a little tired of the usual 'beasties' and Zombies, I just don't get them.

    Virgin or whore an interesting concept I hadn't thought about. Maybe I should write the 'whore with a heart'. LOL

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    1. Ha! Hey, one of my WIP has a whore with a heart. Though I've cut back on her liberal attitude a bit in my revisions.

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  4. I actually like #2. I think the love/hate angle can create great sexual tension between the two protagonists. Probably # 3 and #5 annoy me the most of your list here.

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    1. Me too. Cliche as they all can be, if they're written well, I'm happy to enjoy them.

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  5. sometimes these work, other times they fall flat. One must tread carefully in order to make their story cliched, in a good way.

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    1. Exactly! I'm working hard to do that with my current WIP and its revisions.

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  6. i like your #5, but we cant have her be too normal for a paranormal =)

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    1. Oh no, not too normal. I like my protagonists with at least a little paranormal!

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  7. I have to agree with all your tips - readers are looking for something new, even if it's a twist of the old:)

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    1. The trick is finding out that twist. I need a magic eight ball to tell me those secrets!

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  8. You write the book without using these cliches and I'll read it Christine. Seriously.


    I thinnk you've hit on most of why I don't read "romance" in general. And I like romance in a novel. But yeah, love at first sight - or first sniff - doesn't cut it for me, and neither does the I-hate-him-today-so-he-must-be-my-love-destiny.

    There are few adult fantasy/urban fantasy novels being published now by the Big houses. Its all YA, and angsty. I'll be so glad when the market turns again and we get characters with substances again, not just good looks and an appetite for undead sex. Not that I'm opposed to good looks and sex.

    ......dhole

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    1. I know what you mean. That's why it's so hit and miss with me and YA books. I love good characterization and not enough YA books have it.

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  9. Uh Oh....I've used number 1 before...

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    1. I've used all of them! *LOL* I'm trying to keep far from them now, though.

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  10. It seems #4 is all I've used in paranormal. They've different names (strigoi, wolfkin, sunlight personified/unborn), but I couldn’t help myself there. They just fitted.

    Of the others:
    #1 twice.
    #2 ... my current wip has a MC who hates my semi-agonist. By the end, she’s warmed to him. Does that count?
    #3 is a nope so far. I’ve hot men, but no speechless women. At least, not for hotness reasons.
    #5 ... I’ve all sorts of women/men, from virgins to whores in practically all my stories, including the MC's. And it's the man who's a virgin in my paranormal. ^_^

    As for what clichés I hate/love ... I don't actually read paranormal romances. Or even straight romances really. I was quite surprised to find I had to classify my story as a paranormal because the main character is a demon. I've always thought of it as a fantasy romance with a slight historical touch (set in the 1600’s).

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    1. I love it that the man's a virgin in your paranormal. So rare to find that! :) A lot of the sub-genres blend together. If it's somewhere other than earth as we know it, it's more fantasy romance than paranormal. Yet the demon does lend to the paranormal side.

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    2. To be fair, during his 1200 years he’s either surrounded by siblings and daddy’s victims or alone.
      It IS supposed to be set on Earth, but it’s so vague on the where that I could just as easily supplant it into the valley and surrounding villages of another world. Then again, the MC’s the demon and I hear that’s the clincher.
      I recall someone suggesting Paranormal Historical. I like the sound of it, until I realised it would make it a Paranormal Historical Romance ... a bit much methinks. Now I just call it a Paranormal Romance with Historic elements.

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    3. Poor guy never had a chance to get lucky then! I've just recently heard of paranormal historical, but I understand what you mean about a mouthful. I think you have the right of it with how you label it.

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    4. I dunno about not having a chance. Let’s just say he’s the only one in a family of hundreds that hasn’t gone for incest.
      On the other hand, he does eventually get the girl, there’s just a hundred years of solitude between meetings. ^_^

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