It seems inevitable that every author of paranormal fiction encounters certain subgenre stereotypes/tropes during their journey to craft an interesting tale. As an author of werewolf fantasy stories, I’m particularly familiar with those that pertain to wolf shifters and lycanthropes. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Book title contains the words “Wolf”, “Alpha” or “Moon”. Yes, these words are inexorably linked in the public mind with werewolves so the use of these terms triggers immediate associations. Must authors bow before this stereotype? I guess it depends, especially on whether you can get your book to market fast enough to snatch up one of the few moon titles left that haven’t been wretchedly overused. (Glance left and you’ll see I’ve committed this one myself.)
2. Everyone knows that wolves don’t wear clothing, so your hero is (gasp!) naked after he returns to human. Yet, some authors and television directors don’t want to deal with the inconvenience, so clothing magically appears out of thin air. Personally, I regard this as a missed opportunity for conflict and laughs, and I definitely prefer scenarios where the storyteller addresses the issue.
3. Absolutely every werewolf/lycanthrope author seems to be compelled to crack the old vegetarian/vegan joke. It doesn’t stop with genre fiction. On the popular TV show, GRIMM, the wolfman character, Monroe, is a confirmed vegetarian. I’m not telling anyone not to do it, only to do so with the self-awareness that it simply isn’t original. I prefer a wink and a nod to the cliché. Better yet, straight up tongue-in-cheek mockery of this tired trope.
4. The she-wolf heroine goes into heat instead of following the 30-day estrus cycle of a human. Okay, this can be fun. For romance and erotica fiction, it can be a titillating lead in for a story premise. So, instead of once every six to eight months, why not have your wolf shifter heroine come into heat every 30 days? After all, more is better. Right? Wrong. Be consistent: pick a species and stick to it, lest your reader proclaim “Ugh,” and stop reading.
5. The terms “lone wolf” and “Alpha” are antonyms not synonyms. Wolves are intelligent, sociable animals that typically live in packs. Lone wolves live outside of the pack. The Alpha is the highest ranked individual–or mated pair–of wolves in the pack. Yet I recall reading a blurb that started off “Alpha Bob is literally a lone wolf”. I think I may have exhaled soda through my nose.
What’s the most overused genre cliché you can think of? Leave me a comment and let me know. One randomly chosen commenter will receive a free Kindle ebook of their choice from my published titles.