Recently, we discussed how to make your characters more three-dimensional in my latest article, 7 Secrets to Building Awesome Characters. But what happens when you create a character so awesome, they’ve been overdone?
Well, here’s one little secret I’m going to let you in on; they probably have. That’s not to say they aren’t good, but it more than likely means you’re not going to “WOW!” anyone.
Like in everyday life, we judge everything. For instance, if you meet a perfect stranger, you immediately categorize them according to the groups you recognize. Are they male or female? Are they taller or shorter than you? Larger or smaller? Darker or lighter skinned? What colored eyes do they have? What colored hair do they have? What kind of accent do they have? All this tells us, subconsciously, who they may be, where they possibly came from, and what culture or background we believe they have, all without asking them.
And it’ll be done to your character’s as well.
It’s built into our biology. The more like us the stranger is, the safer and more secure we feel.
Characters can just as easily make a good or bad first impression, which can ultimately make or break your book. As writers, we can use this to our advantage, but we must approach this with caution. A character that brings in a stereotype is normally met with recognition by the audience, but that can be where their interest ends.
Stereotyped characters can come off boring and predictable, which can make your story boring and predictable. However, if they are able to break the stereotype, you have introduced a reason for your audience to become curious, and their interest will spike!
Here are 4 examples of Popular Characters (with stereotypes) that could slay your novel or potentially earn you a book deal!