Rules I Break: Playing with Stereotypes

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

One of the things "they" tell you is not to use stereotypes. Keep your characters fresh and original. Well, I can see that. Seeing the same character doing the same thing in plot after plot and book after book is hardly entertaining.

What I love to do, however, is play with stereotypes, twisting and shaping them to challenge one's thinking. My first published story, "Code of the Jenri," was a sword and sorcery tale intended to turn the standard "large hulking barbarian rescues the damsel in distress" on its end. Oh, a spouse is being rescued, of course, but not the woman.

I love twisting stereotypes. The strong sword-fighter, too proud to use a knife, who ends up saddled with a bunch of kittens who claim to be his familiars. What self-respecting warrior plays with magic?

I like dangerous-seeming people who are vulnerable and harmless-seeming people who are ruthless or daring or amazingly capable.

I want to challenge people's notions that, by knowing what someone is, they know who someone is. I want to make people see the world they think they know in new ways when something familiar is shown from a different perspective, a different light.

And, with any luck, I want to make them enjoy the experience so they don't even know they're thinking until it's too late to start.


  • Jeff King

    Great perspective; I really don't know how I want to write anything, it just comes out. Maybe that’s why I really can't judge what I do...

    I just want to create a character so vivid; you feel his cuts, you yearn to see his dreams come true and hopefully connect so well to him you might over look some shotty writing... lol

    Thx for sharing.

  • The Mother

    I want to read that, and I'm not even a scifi/fantasy geek. I have a kid who is, though, and writes, so I guess I'll have to get into the game.

  • Stephanie Barr

    I have to say, it's fun to write. I love that stuff. You have the ultimate freedom to set things up in extremes (because, hey, there aren't many societal extremes that are beyond possibility - see history) and then challenge it, change it, show what's wrong with it, or even show what's good about it.

    I'm glad it interests you, the Mother. Most of my readers haven't been into "that kind" of stuff - and they liked it anyway. I love doing that.

    And Jeff, I like characters that matter too. I want to create that.

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