heroes

NaNoWriMo Tips: Generalizations and Stereotypes

It is easy when writing in a hurry with something like NaNoWriMo to write sweeping generalizations and use stereotypes to describe characters and scenes. If it works and the character or scene is small, then use it, but NaNoWriMo is a word-count driven competition with yourself. Go beyond generalizations and stereotypes to flesh out your scenes and characters.

All villains aren’t evil. Some function within society with few noticing until something triggers their evil ways. Help us see past the stereotypes of an evil villain to see what they are really made of.

Not all heroes are here to save the day. Some go reluctantly such as antiheroes, the reluctant heroes that ambivalently thrust into conflict and onto the hero’s journey not of their own free will.

Not all butlers, maids, or shoe polishers are black. Not every car mechanic is Latino. Not every person shot by police is black. Not all rich people are white. Break with stereotypes and add life, texture, and passion to your characters by breaking the mold.

When you write with generalizations and stereotypes, you are often selling your characters short. Let them breathe into being with full hearts, souls, attitudes, and presence in your story. Peel away the layers to find what makes them unique and introduce that uniqueness to your readers so they can break through their own stereotypes and judgement calls.

Human beings are complex creatures. Sure, there are some characteristics and traits that most of us share across cultural and historical divides, but go deeper. Paint colorful pictures for your readers.

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.

Prompt: The Anti-Hero

The following is a tutorial and prompt for Writers in the Grove by Lorelle VanFossen and Patti Bond.

“Casting someone who people love to hate is absolutely critical.”

Bravo-TV’s Real Housewives producer Andy Cohen spoke on CNN’s “Why Donald Trump is the Perfect Real Housewife:”

If reality stars are going to make it big, they’ve got to amp up the drama – and by drama, I mean totally insane behavior.

Donald Trump is the perfect Real Housewife — the perfect villain — in the sense that some of us cannot stop talking about how much we freaking hate him. We can’t stop retweeting his deranged rantings. We cannot stop fact checking his obviously false statements. We cannot keep looking at each other — whether in real life or on a comments board — and asking, Can you BELIEVE this guy!?

In short, we cannot look away from the specter of Capital “C” Crazy before us, even if we shove an entire basket of deplorables over our heads. If Trump had a “Real Housewives” tagline, it might be, “Hate me all you want. I’ll be back for more.”

This is not a discussion about politics, but a look at a fascinating type of character often found in fiction as well as the real world: the antihero. Antiheroes are fascinating and compelling characters, and often set in the fine line between hero and villain.

The article offered a shortlist of reality TV casting requirements, which define well the concept of an antihero.

  1. 1s the character willing to say or do just about anything to be famous?
  2. Is the character polarizing among other characters and viewers?
  3. Is the character highly charismatic, yet highly offensive?
  4. Is the character predictably unpredictable?
  5. Does the character live in their own world, out of touch with reality (delusional)?

Like watching a car accident or train wreck, we can’t tear our eyes away from them. This is what makes a good antihero character for television, film, theater, or fiction. (more…)