The Trope and the Trite

It’s time to review the fantasy cliches out there. In my case it’s the female warrior trope. She’s bad. She’s tough. But is she a cliche? Maybe not when I originally conceived her. That was many years before Buffy or Xena hit the pop-culture landscape and looking back on her my instincts say she still has some relevance. Since then I’ve realized her as a less than original idea and I’ve tried to work within that trope, to use her to turn the reader’s attention towards something else. But she doesn’t have the heart of gold a lot of these character types do. And she doesn’t go through a life-altering realization, at least not in the first book as it stands and the second as it is scripted.
There is a question I’m circling here, a question one of my readers posed about feminism in my book. Is every character in a fantasy novel a cliche? Where does the bridge between archetype and caricature lie? In Hamlet, the best loved sayings are from the mouth of Polonius, who at best is a wise fool. He speaks phrases such as “to thine own self be true” that were already cliches in Shakespeare’s time.
The female warrior type is a cliche. When I look at the typical fantasy conventions: the white-bearded wizard, the city besieged, the warrior woman, I yawn. They might be archetypes but if so, they are greatly used archetypes. I want to dig a little deeper. Hopefully the tropes I use don’t come off as trite. And hopefully they’ll point the reader towards something more meaningful in the world I’m trying to create.

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