Urban Fantasy Cliches

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Urban Fantasy Cliches

Post  Urban Banshee on Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:52 pm

As should be obvious from the name of this forum, I have a thing for magic. I've always been drawn to stories about magic spells, dragons, heroes who save the world, unicorns, secret societies. I also love the city. Not knocking nature or the country, they are lovely for a visit, but when it comes to living somewhere I just have a thing for concrete roads, long sidewalks littered with odd shops, and tall buildings you have to crank your neck up to see.

Urban fantasy is everything I love in a single genre. Magic spells and comfy sneakers, dragons and a morning coffee, so what could possibly be wrong with this type of story? What could I not love?

Well, the cliches for one. Like any genre out there, once a writer does something different and gets praised for it hundreds of others copy what they think made that work popular in the first place. Missing the point completely and turning something that used to be new into a cliche. I'll be the first to admit if something is written right then the fact it is a cliche doesn't really matter. Point though is most of these are overused to the point that when I see them all I can do is roll my eyes and sigh.

* The main character is a cop/detective/P.I or some variation of one of those.
I have a weakness for cop shows, so my dislike of this cliche has nothing to do with not liking main characters who are cops and track down the bad guy. Even most cop shows know they have to do something different to work, whether it is focusing on forensics, having unlikely team ups, the list goes on. Typical and boring urban fantasy with a cop lead, is the story that has the corpse drained of all their blood, or something else strange. Eventually it comes out that a vampire/werewolf/demon did it. There are plenty of other ways to have a character come across the hidden magical world alongside their own, without having them be a cop that comes across a strange murder.

* Urban Fantasy has become saturated with paranormal romance
I don't have a problem with romance in a story, paranormal or otherwise. I just like to know what I'm getting into. If the summary of a urban fantasy only talks about an item of doom and the girl who stumbles upon it by accident, then when I start reading I don't want to find out that the end of the world is a sub-plot at best and the main story is how she falls in love with a vampire/werewolf/demon and angst about how different they are for the entire story. The main character can fall in love, or have a boyfriend/girlfriend or even heck be married, that is more then fine with me. It's when urban fantasy isn't urban fantasy anymore, but another name for paranormal romance I take issue.

* Pop culture monsters
The best description for this particular issue I've heard is "shallow research." It's when at best the only research that is given into a monster or creature is a few recent fiction books and a Hollywood movie or two. No one writes about how vampires can't cross running water anymore, or uses more obscure and older facts about faeries. What happened to faery circles? I sometimes see writers break rules and make some of their own myths for creatures which is fine if done well, but it would be nice to see more in depth research into superstitions and magical creatures. Not just what Hollywood has taught us about them.

Like I already stated, some cliche's aren't cliche's because they are bad, they are cliche's because they used to be good and have become over used.

What are some you've noticed?

Urban Banshee
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