Thirteen fantasy “cliches’ I hope I never have to see again.
1. “Talking” horses – Horses are great animals and I know some people have a deep devotion to them, but seriously, how many books do we need where the hero/heroine has an equine companion who is psychic or can actually speak? There are other animals, people. Better yet, how about a “human” friend?
2. “Talking” swords, helmets or whatever – Swords, helmets and other tools are useful, but when they’re smarter than the hero/heroine or makes all the important decisons, something’s seriously wrong.
3. Princesses or noblewomen who hate stitching – Really, any kind of feminine thing. This is a typical thing for historical romances, too, and it drives me crazy. I love needlework and I don’t know why a heroine has to hate being a girl to be strong?
4. Women who can out-whatever a man – This is a corollary to #3. I’ve read books (but never finished) books where a woman can out-shoot, out-ride, out-hunt, out-fight, out-drink, out-you-name-it, any man she meets.While, I don’t mind a woman holding her own, but these women are unrealistic and why do they need a man anyway??
5. Ladies who are running away from a marriage – Again, this is in historical romances as well as fantasies. It’s a way for the woman to get into the adventure, but surely, we’ve overdone the parents who are forcing a woman into a marriage with an old, smelly, mean or just ugly man.
6. Men who are sexist pigs – It might have worked for Sean Connery’s 007, but I’ve seen fantasy heroes who only think of the women as playthings or incapable of more than being rescued and/or seduced.
7. Women who wear clothing that is totally impractical – Just think about Xena for a minute. Was her outfit even capable of keeping her safe in anyway? If a woman is going to traveling or working or fighting or ANYTHING, dress her in a way that fits the situation. This mainly applies to covers!
8. Dice rolling stuff – I have read books that seem like someone was just basing it on a game he/she played. (Okay, Attack of the Queen was like that, but I tried to avoid gaming cliches.) In “real life” would a detect magic spell be called that?? If you can envision some one sitting at a table with a 12-sided dice working out the odds of making it out of the conflict or trap, take it out!
9. Name with more than one apostrophe – If you can’t easily pronounce it, don’t us it.
10. Ditto names with more Zs or Xs than vowels – see above.
11. Evil characters who are just plain evil – Give the villain a real reason to do what he/she is doing, even if it only makes sense in his/her mind.
12. I mentioned this in the heroine list, but girls dressed up as boys? Skip it, okay? I don’t believe it.
13. Parents or mother being dead in the beginning – Think of the Disney heroines. Not one of them has a mom. Stepmothers, maybe, but they tend to be evil just for the sake of evil (see 11). I think Sleeping Beauty had a mother, but she’s the exception. Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle. What do fairy tale writers have against moms?