38 Clichés to Avoid when Writing Romance

Lana PecherczykWriting3 Comments

H is for Heaving Bosoms and other Romance clichés to Avoid

I asked my fellow members of RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) what sort of clichés they dislike reading about in the genre. The following discussion was fun, informative and light-hearted. But at the end of it, even though I came up with a wide variety of suggestions for clichés to avoid in your romance, the general consensus it to write how you want to write because we all have differing opinions. I thought I’d share it anyway, because it was a fun activity to learn more about what goes on behind the eyes of others. Some of these you might agree with, some are more pet hates than clichés and some you might actually like to read, it’s up to you. I’d love for you to add to the list by commenting at the end of the article.

The most agreed with clichés are at the top.

  1. Helpless Women
  2. Too Stupid To Live heroine
  3. Pointless romance – jerk hero does NOT equal conflict!
  4. Throbbing members
  5. The Alpha Asshole male
  6. Pointless Sex Scenes
  7. Unnatural HEA – HEA that comes from nowhere. No natural progression to it.
  8. Someone leaving in a huff after overhearing or seeing something, without waiting for an explanation or even asking for one.
  9. Being late to a date so as she rushes out, just brushes her hair quickly and only needs a dab of lip gloss because she’s a ‘natural beauty’.
  10. The Billionaire who never works
  11. H & H who hate each other but five minutes later fall inexplicably fall madly in love where nothing and no one has changed.
  12. Sex that would need contortionists to perform
  13. Not enough romance
  14. Predictable and/or boring GMC (i.e. not well defined conflict)
  15. Sexy heroes with amazing bods that never seem to do any exercise (except have sex!)
  16. Immediate ‘readiness’ for intimacy
  17. Conflict driven entirely by an “You’d be better off without me” martyr
  18. Boring sex
  19. Teeny tiny petite slender obscure shade of red headed emerald green eyed delicate perfect at everything porcelain skin damsel in dat dress
  20. Plots that have been done (comment)
  21. “They’re all bodice rippers.”
  22. Gross-sounding sexy descriptions e.g. ‘weeping’ anything.
  23. Many romance heroines seem asthmatic as they seem to gasp a lot.
  24. Jerk heroes who are shitty to every woman except the heroine.
  25. Man-whores
  26. Men that every woman throws herself at
  27. Books in which every woman but the heroine is depicted as a Nasty Man-Stealing Witch. Basically, the ‘Not Like Other Girls’ trope.
  28. Books that don’t pass the Bechdel test.
  29. Books where EVERYONE is gorgeous
  30. The ‘brutish hero who’s really a scared little kitten’. Baggage is great, but sometimes it’s so contrived.
  31. Boy / girl next door is a cliché that has been done to death.
  32. Man-whore heroes who say they only slept with women who know the score and if the women want more somehow it’s her fault, not his, that she is hurt.
  33. The lizard-like visual when you read ‘his tongue thrust in and out of her mouth’ type moments.
  34. Purple or other disco-coloured described penis’s.
  35. “Heavy lidded eyes” makes the guy seem sleepy, not aroused.
  36. When a hero has clever hands. What are ‘clever hands’?
  37. Billionaire in their 20s
  38. Describing a character as clenching their hands as ‘fisting’

At the end of the game, we all agreed that if done correctly, many of these can pass the test. So don’t be afraid of not using them, just make sure you’ve got a reason for doing it.

Do you have something to add?

Please comment at the end of the post.

View all articles in the A to Z of Romance series.


About the Author

Lana Pecherczyk

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Don't miss anything from the Author Zoo blog, sign up to the e-newsletter today. Lana Pecherczyk is an author, artist and bookshop marketer from Perth, Western Australia. She's the Webmistress for Romance Writers of Australia (and no, that's not Spiderman's lover). Is a fan of 'pro-caffeinating' and writes in many genres, including romance, comedy, fantasy and paranormal. She also loves Sailormoon. No judgement.

3 Comments on “38 Clichés to Avoid when Writing Romance”

  1. Also the “brutal ‘I can handle myself’ chick” is annoying. Let’s be honest, most women aren’t like that unless they’re ape screaming feminists.

  2. Pingback: Friday’s (and Saturday’s) Twitter Wisdom — 05/26-27/2017 – Dancing on Coals

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