This has been in the queue for quite some time. Though the title explains it all, just briefly, this is a list of things I see on my romance shows/stories/etc. This list will get longer the more I remember what the hell I’ve been subjected to.
For those of you writing romance, don’t think of this as points to avoid. A lot of these things are clichés because they lack the foundation to be logic, to keep going. Sometimes, when people say cliché, they mean there are others who think these similarities with guarantee hits, popularity, what have you.
In other words, they think they’re winning tropes when really, they’re just making common things that could be extraordinary. Just keep that in mind!
*deep, down, very long, drawn out sigh* It’s not so much the whole someone pretending not to love someone else, being confronted and feeling this way. This whole, how can I when I never stopped. It’s the whole, why did you say it.
Though I know many people actually express their feelings in words–hello! I’m one of them–most of those people are usually lying. For the most part, we don’t flat out tell people directly how we feel.
If something like this were to happen, maybe they could do something indirect.
Well, an example would be this little conversation:
Ex: when will you be back?
MC: I don’t want to come back until you’re married and it’ll feel wrong for me to ask you back.
Ex: when will you come back?
MC: I don’t know. There’s not a lot left here. I was thinking down the road. Maybe not after until we’ve had our families. There’s just not a lot to do here anymore.
(By the way, this conversation is an actual conversation.)
I’m not saying that people wouldn’t answer the way they did in the first example. Because when I was pissed, I’d try to be sincere. (Because I figured that was cruel.) But you have to have motive and line it up.
When I see this cliché, more than half the time–and I’m talking 80%+ here–it’s usually packed in and blurted out. Like the character had been thinking this the whole time and maybe they would forget it if they didn’t say it dramatically right
We have a winner. This one really gets me, as a fantasy lover. Just, why?
I get it. Once upon a time, this was pretty good. It was left field. But now, this has become so common. Maybe it isn’t purposefully lazy writing, but it definitely has the stench of it.
Hello, PNR! Of any kind, this is usually what I see. Which is probably HOPEFULLY not what the creator intended. Oh, well, I’m a big paranormal/immortal. I guess I’ll risk it all for you.”
What? My life? That’s one of the most important things you and I have to lose.
Sigh. I mean, if it was purposefully morbid, trying to freaking get her to die like some sort of disturbed love thing
I could understand. Probably even get behind if it’s done well. That’s the beauty about good writing. Even the darkest of evils can be empathic if done well enough.
Someone’s always buying someone from getting or staying close to another someone. If you watch dramas, you know what I’m talking about.
Someone is depressingly, shockingly, scarily rich.
And someone is so dirty poor, you can see the ground they stand on wear top hats in comparison.
And yet the union of these two families via the lovers is always so depraved (I guess) someone is offered lots of money to forget their pleasant love.
I think one way to turn this on its head is American Dad style.
You just think about that.
Speaking of Rich and Poor! Yes, someone is poor and someone is miserably rich. I dare say at least this was a good thing from Shakespeare tragic rewrite, Romeo and Juliet.
Why don’t people fall in love within their own class? Are these people terrible? WHAT?
Either way, this is so old (yet not old enough) that when it flashes on the screen, most of the drama/book comes to a very narrow set of conclusions.
For the people who like to know where they’re going in a story, okay. But for me? I’d rather be flat on my ass surprised and suspensified til the last word.
Not that you can’t be suspenseful following a sort of formula. You just have to work harder at it.
Working. Sleeping. Etc. Do people really just show up at the work place in high heels and body cons and get dropped on the desk?
Because, I mean, it’s not bad, honest. But for once, I’d like to see a twist.
Going to the office thinking you’re going to be kinky and something happens.
Anything! I will take anything.
(For those noticing a pattern, yes, it’s true. Suspense of any kind drives a story forward. Clichés take the mystery of where you will go or land or [place thing here.])
This has been getting better, in my opinion. But when you think of sexy and romantic in the US, you think southern accents. Maybe a cowboy but usually a Southern Belle.
And okay, maybe I’m not all the way sick of this one yet, because a man talks to me in a Louisiana accent, you better believe I’ll be nodding to whatever the hell he just said. And that smile most of them have and those manners!
Nothing is sexier than a Southern Gentleman.
*swoons so hard it actually hurts*
I’m sure other places are sexy too. You just have to figure out what location, what time, what words, what person. Knowledge, I think, is inherently sexy. To a point. Being Knowledgable is probably what I mean, so pick a place, find a person who knows something about surviving in that world, and you have sexy romantic surroundings.
(It’s all about the tour guide in POV.)
For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter/Tumblr/any other social media, you won’t understand how much I know of Nicholas Sparks. Because let me tell you, it’s more than I wish I knew.
Not that he’s bad. He’s just the king of these very formulaic movies. Not that he writes them. Maybe has not that much to say about them. (His books didn’t hold my interest. Sorry.)
Yet, I know about these movies because they are the most romantic my mother and father get. New Nick Sparks movie? Gonna get it.
But anyway, back to the cliché point. This pissed me off in The Notebook. It will piss me off in every other book/story/drama/anything that I experience.
Cheating after a reunion dinner.
And I get it. Things happen.
Sometimes. But if this is the way a writer expresses that these two people–and woe is them they haven’t seen each other in years!–show they love each other passionately, I am out.
This is despicable. Like two grown people who haven’t seen each other and love each other, can’t stop and think and act like the grown people they are and step back from the situation.
Unless they are morally ambigious people and that is what the story is about–hi, meet Gone with the Wind–this is not a good place to put a Happily Ever After at the end.
It’s just, maybe I’m not explaining it right, but it doesn’t seem like you can trust two people who have no self-control or respect for others. Like, how can you root for them if they are not purposefully morally ambiguous and doomed to be that way from beginning to end?
I get it. Not everyone gets caught. Not everyone gets punished. But why is this a cliché?
Why? How is this part of the ROMANCE world?
All my friends on Twitter were arguing about this. I mean, I read them going into a spiral for days about this happening. I’d never seen it before until a few choice movies and books fell on my lap.
Now, I don’t remember their titles. Looking and cannot find. (Thanks, Obama.) But when I do, I’ll come back and add in the edits.
But anyway, THIS is lazy writing. The couple is doing well, everything is going smoothly and oh, no, we can’t have them be happy yet. They have to argue about something.
What the devil was this couple arguing about? I think I remember something about a fly in the room. I could be wrong. I probably am wrong.
Ignore the fly, but assume it’s as small and insignificant as the fly.
Rather than, if two people are going to be fighting constantly, writing two very different characters so they HAVE something to fight about, I see people create generic things and throw a wrench in their daily, boring lives.
If you’re writing a romance with friction, remember, relationships are hard. You are not one thousand percent the same as your partner. Pick those small or maybe bigger issues and find a situation where they’re forced together.
Friction. See? See?
I’ll show myself out at the end of this post.
Why? Why am I having trouble finding my sources?
I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, but I had a good one for this because I WTFed so bad, I stopped drawing. I wasn’t even supposed to be listening. I mean, it just happened.
They were doing that middle of the movie thing where they were montaging into a deeper relationship and he said something and she said something about her family life that wasn’t so great and he laughed and she laughed and I was just blinking more than I had ever done in a minute.
You know how you blink a lot when someone shoves you in the pool and you fear your lashes have swept under your lids so you’re like “gonna lose my eyesight if I don’t blink a lot”? That was my blinking.
If romance is hard to do, don’t hurt your brain writing a comedy. Comedy is so subjective, but I doubt saying something about your abusive father leaving at a young age is funny to anyone.
At least I didn’t have the backstory to find out why it would be funny to them.
I love the rain. I love the sound. The smell. If it’s light enough, the feel of it on my skin and face. (Face also made of skin.)
But I’d never kiss in the rain. Because the time I did, I snorted water. All I wanted to do was rip back and run away. Because it was COLD AND WET.
I’m not sure who decided this was romantic. I also am not sure why it was so popular but I’m seeing less of it.
Now a kiss in the snow, I get. Because it’s like you’re in a snow globe. And it’s dry. Mostly.
In most romances, there’s this hidden place the lovers can talk and get to know each other. And the assumption is that if you have to go somewhere private, someone is looking to sit right between you two or tear you apart.
So that’s why I don’t understand, if this person is so persistent, they can’t find you.
It’s romantic. I never said it wasn’t. A place where you can be alone. Where you can know each other better.
But it’s existence is nearing ultra cliché. This is laid back cliché because I guess it’s still serving a function.
(But I want to see the opposite, to be honest. A couple getting closer with no alone time.)
So many of us act out when something terrible happens to us. But it makes me blink extra hard at the girls in some of these dramas. Like, bad boys are misunderstood?
He’s dangerous. Do you have a death wish?
He won’t want you if you want him.
Is there more to say for this? Because I think this has gone on long enough.
Thanks for reading. Check back in possibly for more romance clichés. ‘Cause they’re for everyone.