If you’ve taken any world history class (or watch Crash Course), you probably know that the Mongols are almost always the exception.
So what do the Mongols have to do with writing? (Don’t worry, I can hear you asking that right along with asking why I’ve been silent for so long. Sorry about that…)
I’ve been reading through a lot of writing articles recently, giving advice and listing things to watch out for. As I read through the an article about stereotyping genders, I started to realize a dangerous mindset.
It’s easy to say you’re the exception.
Most writers have it written somewhere in the article – *there are always exceptions to this rule!* – which makes it easy to assume that’s you. Sure, you may have written an emotionless, attractive male lead, but it was for a reason! You could never create an underdeveloped character …. could you?
This is part of why you always need other people to look over your work. I always have more backstory than can fit (or should fit) into the novel, and so there ends up being a great deal of information I know about my characters that readers may never get the chance to discover. This makes it easy to overlook underdeveloped aspects in your writing. Things that seem obvious or unique to you may be confusing or stereotypical to readers, and it’s important to realize that you’re not always the exception.
Sometimes your writing will be “bad”, but that’s okay.
What’s important is that we recognize and move past our mistakes. Yes, there will always be exceptions, and you might even be one, but you won’t always be.
It’s impossible not to get emotionally attached to your writing, which is what can make it so difficult to clearly analyze or edit it. Receiving harsh critiques can be difficult, especially if they attack a character or plot turn you’re attached to, but all those mistakes help your future writing.
My characters used to all be mirrors of me. Not only did they share my personality, but they frequently even physically resembled me (yikes!). I was thankful when I realized this and was able to move past it. I’m currently struggling with to write in new genres. I am most comfortable in the YA fantasy world, and I was a little more than embarrassed to realize both novels that I’ve finished focus on a teen caught in the middle of a war.
The novel I’m starting now is far away from the fantasy genre, and there won’t be any allusions to war, and I’m excited to see how that works out.
What is something new you want to try in your writing? Are there any stereotypes you’ve fallen into? What stereotypes most bother you?