Ravyn vs. Paranormal Romance: The Art of Cliche

The fourth unit of the paranormal romance course I took covered cliches, stereotypes, and how to avoid them. I’ll come back to the stereotypes later—one of the points of the lesson treated the common-knowledge traits of various well-known supernatural creatures as cliché—but what got my attention more was the assignment: get all the cliché out of the system ahead of time in two or three paragraphs.

Hoo, boy. I try to avoid cliché in the system. Gives me indigestion.

I wasn’t going to be able to play it straight. I’m never able to play it straight; if I do, I start wanting to claw my eyes out, and blood really isn’t good for the keyboard—besides, I wanted to be able to enjoy rereading anything I wrote. Instead, I decided it was time for a parody, and where better to start than the stereotype urban fantasy heroine, raven-haired, hot as a monster’s breath on the back of one’s neck and loaded for werebear. The punchline came next—and once I had that, all I had to worry about was staying within the paragraph limits.

It was twilight when the most beautiful girl Billy had ever seen stepped up to the DMV counter. “Lucrezia Montpelier,” she said in a voice that took no prisoners. “There’s a problem with my ID.” She dropped a sheaf of papers on the counter in front of him, and flung the offending card on top of them with an intensity that bespoke either a harsh and tragic past or a few too many stakeouts spent playing cards. Probably both.

He peered at the card and shuffled through the paperwork with admirable efficiency, then moved on to the important part: verifying that she did indeed look like the person the papers indicated. And oh, did she. Class D Supernatural Violence license, always one of the problem areas, and she looked it. Her belly-baring shirt revealed taut muscles crossed by line-pattern tattoos that seemed to exist entirely for the sake of serving as intriguing background symbols in book cover backgrounds. The weapons he could see were two guns, a stake, a sword, a cross necklace, wild rose behind the ear (Stoker was required reading in his line of work) and silver earrings the points of which probably could serve in a pinch; if she didn’t have a knife in each boot and either a knife or several rounds of ammunition tucked away between her ample breasts, he’d eat her paperwork–assuming she hadn’t fed it to him already. Come to think of it, he couldn’t see a single thing out of place on girl or paperwork, until he saw her manicured nail next to “Hair: Black” on the card. “Raven,” she said, her nail tapping.

He debated this; he had to. It was policy. Raven wasn’t an option for hair color, and never had been. If they made an exception for one person, it would have to go up and down the chain of command, be programmed into the system, then half the world would be coming in demanding a color change and meanwhile the poor programmers would… do something that was interrupted by Lucrezia’s hand around his throat, clasping harder than such smooth fingers should be able to, the incongruously soft, lightly tanned skin shifting to rough, black and pebbled, fingernails sharpening as they dug into his flesh, her lustrous hair melding into black feathers, and most importantly, a huge, pointed and rather too close to his eye beak parting to repeat one word in a laryngitic voice. “Raven.” Billy knew better than to argue further.

1 comment

  1. Michael says:

    Excellent :)

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