People dislike when the word stereotype is used for them, as no one likes to be generalized. However, most people use it in their everyday lives without knowing its meaning in the literary context. This means the utilization of commonly known generalizations in order to build rubber-stamped, two-dimensional characters. When we talk about writing, the most common mistakes that a writer do is creating character stereotypes or writing clichés.
Great writing has to be unique, it should engage the reader’s attention. However, avoiding stereotypes is a daunting task but by staying alert while writing and reading you will be able to weed out stereotypes while ensuring that your book is original.
Generalizations are not always bad; the archetype is a good use of generalization to build deep characters over a familiar foundation. The difference between archetypes and stereotypes is that archetypes frame a story while stereotypes are a substitute for complex characters.
Stereotypes to avoid:
There are three stereotypes that writers must avoid, these can be classified into three types:
- Stereotypical characters
- Behaviour stereotypes
- Situational stereotypes
- Stereotypical characters:
Most writers know to avoid stereotyping characters that entail the features of socioeconomic status, race, or sexual orientation. Avoiding stereotyping characters is easy as compared to the next two.
- Behavior stereotypes:
These are the hardest stereotypes to avoid because most behavior stereotypes are centred on beliefs. Some of the most prevalent stereotypes are
- Ever-Meditating Buddhists
- Rugged Criminal Individuals
- Intolerant Christian Parents
- Radical Communists
- Licentious Atheists
These behavior stereotypes are extremely popular with pop culture and the film industry. You must have seen various times a hostile minority or a mother begging her daughter to get married to settle down. These behavioral stereotypes show little to no imagination and should be avoided in order to produce an original storyline.
- Situational stereotypes:
Situational stereotypes are also often seen in the movies and books such as the classic love story where the girl and boy meet and initially hate each other but in the end they fall in love. Situational stereotypes do not provide a negative social stigma like the other two may; however, it is likely to bore your readers.
You must avoid all of these three stereotypes in order to write a story that is innovative and unique, a story that promises individuality and doesn’t have unwanted predictability. Here are some tips that will help you avoid stereotypes:
- Plot a story that surprises readers and keeps them engaged.
- Describe major events in detail to portray the scene clearly to your reader.
- Being daring is risky in writing but when done well, it can have major payoffs. Readers love plot twists, but they can also enjoy predicting what come next (and being right), so you’ll have to find a balance between audience expectations but still write a story true to your style.
- Remember to be real, your readers have to believe in the story, therefore avoiding stereotypes will prevent reader frustration and keep your story from seeming unrealistic or too cliché.