A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch my thirteen year old nephew in an Ice Hockey tournament. I’ve seen his games sporadically since he started at around four years of age. The difference was stunning. At four, the children tended to shuffle across the ice, attempting not to fall. When one collapsed, they all seemed to tumble over like dominoes. Then, they’d merely lay there for a few minutes licking the ice. Amusing and entertaining.
Well, Ice Hockey for thirteen year olds is quite different. Gone are the little boys and instead, they are men. Fighting, cursing, slamming each other against the glass. There were quite a few punches thrown, although with all their gear I doubt the punches hurt. It was shocking and, okay, I admit, a bit entertaining. Every stereotype one could list when thinking about men, it was there. They reminded me of Highland warriors fighting a battle, only on ice. A scene from Braveheart.
As authors, we tend to use stereotypes because frankly its easy. Our men act certain ways whether they’re alpha or beta males. And the women two, whether they’re innocent virgins, or experienced and demanding. Obviously there is some truth in stereotyping. My son, who is almost five and who I’ve never really pressured into being “a boy,” still wants to play with cars and superheroes. We went to McDonald’s, both of us getting a Happy Meal. I got a cute little pink panda, he got a Spiderman. He immediately suggested they fight. With a sigh, I shook my head. Gone was my sweet little boy and in his place was a mini Highland Warrior.
Yes, as humans we like to categorize and sure, there is some truth in stereotypes. Studies have been done that suggest no matter what toys you give infants, most boys tend to want trucks or guns, most girls dolls. Stereotypes are great for a jumping off point. But with all stereotype and no individuality, characters tend to blur together. Even though you can assign stereotypes to every sex and every culture, people are still individuals with their own unique thoughts and beliefs. And really, isn’t it those books with a unique character that are the most memorable? As for human beings, not everyone is going to fit a mold and really, aren’t those the most interesting people? So I’m off to figure out how I can make my characters more unique.
Tell me, what have you done to make your characters more unique? Or, have you read a book that was memorable because a character was so different?
I landed another awesome Interview….Avon author Jenna Petersen! Come back soon to read about your favorite authors!