Top 10 Female Cliches in Mysteries

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Mystery
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Novels are full of cliches–it’s the place where lazy writers go. Female protags aren’t exempt. Here’s my take on the top 10 female cliches in the mystery genre.

1. Men can be hard guy PI’s and be drunks or recovering drunks but, just like in society, women aren’t allowed

2. Attractive women are manipulative and not to be trusted

3. They are also either sluts or totally out of reach sexually.

4. All are obsessed with shoes and fashion

5. They love to get together with friends–usually three others–and eat at a fern bar type restaurant

6. They are fixated on their dads

7. Their relationships are never happy and its either because the men they date are assholes or because the woman just can’t give of herself fully

8. They don’t have children

9. They can beat men up

10. They have male authority figures in their liveswhoa re unreasonable.

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Comments
  1. LOL, Tom. Now here’s my take on the ten top cliches for male sleuths.

    1. Men can be hard guy PI’s and be drunks or recovering drunks but, just like in society, they aren’t allowed to show a feminine side–do the dishes, iron their clothes, go to the pound and fall in love with a kitten.

    2. Attractive men are hung up on themselves and not to be trusted

    3. They are also either womanizers or totally out of reach sexually.

    4. All are obsessed with cars and Wall Street.

    5. They love to get together with friends–usually three others–and drink at a sports bar.

    6. They are fixated on their mothers.

    7. Their relationships are never happy and it’s either because the women they date are airheads or because the man just can’t give of himself fully.

    8. They don’t have children.

    9. They can underestimate women and/or be terrified of a strong independent woman.

    10. They have female authority figures in their lives who de-masculinize (is this a word??) them.

    I am still giggling over these lists.

  2. tjs9261 says:

    hmmm…

  3. Jen Forbus says:

    You are reading the WRONG books, dude! Try some Julia Spencer-Fleming, Alafair Burke, Laura Lippman, Sue Grafton, Karin Slaughter, Val McDermid…and while their females are more supporting roles than protags, Robert Crais and Craig Johnson have some very non-stereotypical females!

    That part about the unreasonable males, though, that’s not a stereotype. They call that a fact. 😉

    • tjs9261 says:

      I’m not saying this is how everyone writes …I’m saying these are the top cliches–the best avoid cliches…these are examples of the unimaginative…

      • Jen Forbus says:

        I understand what you’re trying to say, I’m saying I don’t see those characteristics very often at all, which wouldn’t make it cliche, right? You’re generalizing to the mystery genre and I’m showing you how often it isn’t the case. Maybe there’s a subset of subpar writing where it would be true, but to generalize to the genre isn’t fair.

        I would say a woman who is weak and needs to be saved is cliche. BLAH!! Been done over and over and over – and mostly by male writers. The strong cop falling in love with the damsel in distress. Or worse yet, the supposedly strong female cop falling for the villain. Now THERE is an ugly cliche. Or all the woman that just fall helplessly in love with the big strong cop/PI/protag, unable to resist his charms. BLAH!

        I would venture to bet there are more alcoholic male PIs and cops then there are ALL female cops and PIs.

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