Thoughts about cliches and stereotypical characters

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  • Thoughts about cliches and stereotypical characters

    While I agree all of the main characters should be three dimensional and the main plot they should be far away of cliches in dramas as much as possible but what about never using any of them?

    I think it is also a bad thing trying too hard to avoid some minor cliches and stereotypical side characters. Their familiarity makes them more relatable since cliches don't come out of thin air, they are just exaggerated versions of common things.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    “Organizations for writers palliate the writer‘s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing.“ — Ernest Hemingway

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    • #3
      We all start with archetypes and then try to add life to it to turn the archetype into character. Sometimes writers, unknowingly, build their characters in a way they have seen and probably liked before. If you're writing a western then you need a cowboy or some kind of gunslinger hero. The cowboy gunslinger is an archetype you see in Westerns all the time. His backstory, and his choices, and the way he speaks make him a character that's different than other cowboy gunslingers. Same with Detectives in thrillers and cops in action movies or the man/woman looking for love. You're going to be on well trodden ground no matter where you go subject matter wise.

      Learning/understanding how the characters past affects their present is a big deal. We are who we are because of our experiences and no two humans have the exact same life experience. So knowing what your character lived through and in a reasonable matter making a creative choice that allows you to then say well a character who lived through that would act like "this" and the this is your opinion. Someone who loses a sibling in a tragic accident may develop a fear of adventure. And if that is your character then you'd want to open in a scene where we see the characters action/choice to adventure or being stuck on an amusement park ride that is way too wild and we see the character break down and it will feel real cause you've done the backstory work. You've created a character that should have such a reaction to this event.

      I guess I'm saying building character comes from understanding character first and what makes a good character, an active character, an interesting character. Obviously conflicted characters are the most interesting which is why the shadow of the hero is an important part of the hero's myth.

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      • #4
        ...in the Biz, they call "cliches and stereotypical characters" a sequel babe.
        Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Otuken View Post
          While I agree all of the main characters should be three dimensional and the main plot they should be far away of cliches in dramas as much as possible but what about never using any of them?

          I think it is also a bad thing trying too hard to avoid some minor cliches and stereotypical side characters. Their familiarity makes them more relatable since cliches don't come out of thin air, they are just exaggerated versions of common things.

          What do you think?
          Personally I think it's more interesting to turn cliches on their heads. BOOKSMART is a good example. The nerd that studies hard and got into an Ivy League college thinks the jocks are still gonna be in their home town, flipping burgers. But discovers that they also got Ivy League offers and are going places. They are also nice people and not a-holes, and are welcoming when she turns up at their big party.

          IMO, sticking to cliches can be seen as lazy and stereotypes can be offensive. They act as predictable tropes. Be better.

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