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Thursday, May 24, 2007

TT #54

Thirteen Romance Novel Clichés

Disclaimer: I love romance novels. And to be fair, I've mostly encountered them in older romances, so maybe rather than calling them clichés, I should just say "thirteen things you used to find too often in romance novels but don't anymore," but that's just not quite as catchy.

But please, please, please, do not use this list to dismiss an entire genre of fabulous books.

  • Historicals.
    1. The hero and heroine will be "strangely addicted" to bathing. This is regardless of the customs of the times, and they'll frequently be criticized for this addiction. They'll even break the ice in a river when they're exhausted, injured, already half-frozen, and on the run from murderous bad guys, in order to bathe before going to bed. It never has anything to do with the plot, and there's rarely any reason to mention it. It pulls me out of the story every time, like whapping me over the head to say "this is added for you contemporary readers because otherwise you'll be thinking they're all stinky."
    2. Similarly, heroines will find a way to depilate, whether it's with the hero's straight razor, sharp shells, candle wax, or sugar syrup. Hair thus removed takes a very long time to grow back, if it grows back at all.
    3. The hero and heroine will always be ahead of their times, in tune with current mores, again, whether or not it has anything to do with the plot. They'll always be anti-slavery, feminist, democratic, and even environmentalist. Again, it's like sticking a commercial in the middle of the book: "we interrupt this story to remind you that it's important to conserve trees." I'm fine with this if there's a point to it--a Regency heroine who's starting a school for lower-class children, perhaps. But too often, it just pops up out of nowhere.
    4. The heroine always makes The Fluffiest Biscuits™ out of nothing more than some flour, water, and lard. This happens in westerns, and sometimes medievals. I've made biscuits. Flour, water, and lard ain't gonna make fluffy biscuits--I don't care how culinarily talented you are.
    5. It takes about 15 minutes to dry waist-length hair in front of a fire. Well damn. Why bother with an electric blow-dryer, then? No wonder these historical heroines are washing their hair daily.Similarly, it takes about 5 minutes to make tea, including running down to the river to fetch water in the kettle.
    6. A heroine will find it necessary at some point to disguise herself as a man. She'll be incredibly proficient at manly arts, particularly with swordplay and archery, and the hero will never realize it's her, except that he'll be strangely drawn to the young squire.
    7. Willow bark tea is way stronger and faster acting than any modern painkillers. The same is true with all folk remedies. Except for leeching and bleeding. All historical heroes and heroines know that leeches are bad, unless you've got a big giant bruise. Then they're okay.

  • Contemporary
    1. The hero and heroine will be at the very top of their professions. This is regardless of whether the heroine is only 22 and appears to be a bimbo. She's not--she's a prodigy. She's the best CEO/doctor/pilot evah. Ignore all the evidence to the contrary.
    2. The heroine's greatest desire is to become a baby factory. Regardless of her personality or previously stated desires, for her, love = babies. Lots and lots of them. There'll frequently be an epilogue listing their names and genders.
    3. The heroine is Strong and Independent™. This is frequently demonstrated by rushing blindly into danger, and more subtly by having a masculine name.

  • Romance in General
    1. At some point in the story, the heroine will have to borrow clothing. It will inevitably be too tight in the bosom and too loose at the hips. It will also be either far too short or far too long.
    2. The hero will be the biggest man the heroine has ever seen. Yes, I meant that, but also that he'll be the tallest, and have the widest shoulders as well. He'll also have a 6-pack, regardless of whether he has the time or inclination to work on his abs.
    3. The romance version of Murphy's Law: if anything can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood. A corollary: any secrets or misunderstandings that Character A intends to explain to Character B will be revealed by a third party just before Character A can explain.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

  1. Melody: Booking Through Thursday
  2. Emma Wayne Porter: writing sniglets
  3. what Tink needs
  4. Angela/SciFiChick: The Dead Zone
  5. Tilly Greene's been gone
  6. Rene Lyons: writing lessons
  7. Christine: pix
  8. Julia: graduation travelogue
  9. Susan Helene Gottfried: Trevor's kitchen
  10. Twiga92: geocaching
  11. Michelle (MG): most popular song on...
  12. Babystepper's accident-prone brother
  13. Thomma Lyn's desktop
  14. Ann(ie)'s desk
  15. Red Garnier: movies
  16. Scribbit: Wife Swap
  17. Nancy's anniversary
  18. Douglas Cootey's spontaneous day
  19. Gabriella Hewitt's TBR pile
  20. Frances's half-year resolutions
  21. Elle Fredrix is happy
  22. words Kate likes
  23. Candy Minx: feminism
  24. Doug does Cosmo
  25. You're next!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Have fun reading this! :)
Got quite a few laughs out of this -- the scary thing is, I know exactly why writers do these things *sigh*

Don't. Get. Me. Started. lol
Awesome list, and true! I love romance novels, but a bit more fantasy makes them better.
Thanks for visiting my Google TT!
Too funny! And too true!
Yes! I recognized some of these and I think 12 is still around! Thank you for the smile - now I need to find a good historical and give it another read :-)
OMG - I was laughing so hard while reading this. Thank you. What a great read to start the day. :)
LOL! I think this was one of the reasons I stopped reading romance for a while. I'm so glad things have changed. Now I can't keep up with all of the awesome romance books out there.
Darla, this list make me laughs! It so funny but yet so true! I know some of the one that really get into your skin and make you boil...but I won't name names LOL

Happy T13! Have a great day!
#13 - So, so true!
This was the funniest thing "evah" - so true, so true!
Oh, and you are soo right. Especially with the out of historical context social mores. That just makes me cringe.
*gigglesnort!* I loved this -- so much fun to read. And arrrgh, #9 really gets my goat -- let's just give all our female characters Baby Rabies, regardless of individuality, personality, or inclination -- NOT!

LOL, thanks for a great list! Happy TT, and I appreciate you coming by my blog. :)
I love me some #6. It's so funny when the manly hero starts questioning his sexuality.
LOL!! This is so true!!! We really ought to deviate a little...lol =)
I'm howling; this is great stuff.

I'm so glad you came to visit me again this week, Darla. I hope you'll come back more often!
LOL! this was great and so true!
Funny list. #11 is very true for Shojo romance in Japanese manga. The sleeves are always fetchingly long, the bust evocatively tight and the tiny waste somehow manages to make the scene despite the fact the clothes are too big for her.

My Thursday Thirteen

The Splintered Mind - Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude
I write romance. You have me laughing. Now I'm going to have to check over my ms and see if any of these show up. LOL! But I still love the genre.
Thanks for stopping in at my TT.
What an amazingly creativee list.
And you're right, especially about the dressing as a man & sword wielding LOL.
Have a marvelous weekend.
That was just brilliant! I loved the Historical ones. So true. I could never figure out if the author deliberately screwed with known history, or if she was just clueless.
This is the funniest TT I've read in ages, possibly ever.

Love it and think you're funny!
that is a most excellent list! Fantastic
You know...I found this list absolutely fascinating. this was all news to me and something I had no idea about. You know what? I've only read a couple of ramnace novels and that was quite a while ago. I've only begun to look at them now and I guess they have changed. This was such an entertaining list Darla. Thanks!!!!
6 made me think: you know what would be fun? If the hero loses interest in the squire when he finds out he's a she. In disgust, she beds the hero's coachman instead! Hilarity ensues.

Yup, I'll never write a historical.
I donno, Doug--that's probably already been done in e-book.
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