Today, we’re talking stereotypes. We all use them, even though we’re admonished not to. You write an old woman into your book and she’s slumped over, walking slowly. You describe a young boy and he’s skipping rocks in a lake or teasing a girl as a way of getting her attention. And we shouldn’t use stereotypes. Or should we?
Is there a place and time for stereotypes? Could it be that sometimes stereotypes are used because they accurately portray a group of people or things? Or is it that, even if that’s true, you should try to make your characters different from the norm so they stand out in the readers’ minds? Or… should that be reserved for your main characters so they stand out from your backdrop of stereotypical secondary characters? Or… I could go on and on with different scenarios.
But my question is, what do you do? Do you work at flavoring each character with something different and unique? Do you keep some characters “normal” with looks and behavior that are “everyman” so that readers can identify with them and so they don’t detract from your main characters?
If your protagonist walked into a house or apartment they’d never been in before and the first thing they saw was a wall clock - a black cat, tail swinging back and forth and eyes clicking left and right with each second that ticked by - what would that tell the reader (and the protagonist) about the owner of the house or apartment? Would their first assumption prove to be right?
Here’s a picture of a wedding ring quilt on a bed. Put it in your book. Whose bed is it on? Is that person old, young, male, female? Did they make the quilt? If not, who did? Was the room painted and designed around the quilt…or was the quilt added because it fit the room? Is it in the master bedroom or a guest room? Was it a wedding gift for a young couple? An older couple? Was it made by a great aunt and it’s an heirloom? If you put this quilt in your book, what would you do with it - and why?
6 months ago