Thursday, August 25, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Six - Break Out of the Mold

      This is going to be a fun one! There are a lot of genres and character types that are definitely overused in today's writing. While ever several years there seem to be certain genres that are popular (magic, vampires/supernatural, dystopia), sometimes it seems like they are all telling the same story over and over again. However, my greatest aggravation is toward stereotype characters and how they seem to produce unrealistic expectations for society.

     Need I say anymore on the subject?? Love triangles are fine to a certain point, but when they start to deter the audience from the real story than it's a problem. Now, some love triangles are important to stories, such as Authrian legends with King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, because in most legends, Lance and Gwen's affair is what brought down the fall of Camelot or "The Vampire Diaries" where it really is a struggle between love and lust. Some love triangles can add much needed humor to the story. "Harry Potter" is a brilliant example of the stupidity of young love and the mistakes people make when they can't tell someone they love them. 

     However, love triangles such as "Twilight," "The Phantom of the Opera" and even "The Hunger Games," really had no bearing in the story, because quite frankly none of these guys had the girl's best interest in mind. The girl is usually a pawn in their testosterone wars. Also, there is a terrible double standard in love triangles. If it's girl between two guys than it's fair game for everyone. Yet, if it's a guy between two girls than it's the preferred girl (that the guy wants) who normally gets all the hate and the second girl (that the guy ignores) who gets all the sympathy. Stories that deal with these type of love triangles would be "Les Miserables" (Cosette-Marius-Eponine) and "The Lord of The Rings" (Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn). 

     Love triangles are overused, boring and unrealistic. You can write about loving just one person or even better, struggling to love a person. There's beauty in that, because it's painful, but real. 

      There's Arya Stark with her sword, Hermione Granger with her wand, Katniss Everdeen with her bow and arrows, Natasha Romonoff with her spy skills...the list goes on and on. While all of these women mentioned above are great examples of strong heroines, the 'fighting woman character' is getting stale. Women can no longer just read, write, take care of people, be loving, tender, generous, wise and soft-spoken. Characters like that are seen as weak, shallow and boring. So, women can no longer be just women. The only way a female character can be popular and loved is if she is better than a man. Also, the super brainy, computer hacker character is getting really old too. While I believe that women can be (and should be) portrayed as smart and intelligent, not every girl can fix a computer or hack into a top secret facility. 

     Not sorry to say, but women need to be seen and written as women. Sure it's alright for women to fight, but don't cut them off from feeling and emotion. All the characters that I listed above (with the exception of Arya) in the beginning are incapable of loving deeply and letting other people know that they love them. all of their stories continue, we're finally able to see that they are capable of loving, being generous and kind and even wanting a family and children (Natasha Romanoff!!!), but what happens? They are crucified by femi-nazis and seen as pathetic and anti-feminist. That is wrong on every single level! They are women and are written to be women, as emotional, sympathetic, frightened, compassionate

      Go ahead and create a strong female character, but she doesn't have to shoot a gun or break into Fort Knox to be seen as a heroine. Good heroines, like Skeeter Phelan from "The Help," or Marty Davies from "The Love Comes Softly" series are fantastic examples of women who could change the people and the situations around them by simply caring and allowing their feminine natures to guide them.

      Now, this is a mold that most definitely needs to be broken! The poor, mistreated, misunderstood villain who has the idea the ends justifies the means...and everyone else just rolls with it. No, just no. I do not care how terrible someones backstory is; a villain is a villain and anyone who kills for his or her own selfish gain should be hated, not praised. Characters such as Loki, Morgana, Magneto are all considerably praised for their villainous actions, because of their traumatic, abused and ignored childhoods. Alright, I'll give some leeway to Magneto because he is more of an anti-hero than just a villain.

     The tragic villain is an interesting character, but in the last several years, it has been overused probably thanks to Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki. While he was great in the role, the character of Loki is the paragon of selfishness, arrogance, injustice and inhumanity (I really just don't like him), but people are so focused on the fact that Odin was such a terrible father (which he wasn't!!) they use that as justification for Loki's actions. No. That is not the way the villain should be treated.

The villain is what you should be afraid of becoming. 

     Case in point: Say Suzanne Collins, the writer of "The Hunger Games," wrote a prequel story concerning the life of President Snow. She wrote that Snow was abused and lonely or suffered from very dominant parents who ignored him. Then she goes and writes that Snow's father kills one of his [Snow's] siblings in an effort to gain control of his family and it works. That causes Snow himself to be afraid of his father who was suppose to protect him, but he also realizes that fear is a powerful tool. Overtime Snow turns into a psychopathic leader who uses murder and fear to control Panem.

     Now, that may change one's perception of Snow, however, it does not negate the fact that Snow is an evil man who had to be destroyed. No one wakes up one morning as a child and says, "I want to be a murderer when I grow up." It's usually a long and painful process, but two wrongs don't make a right. You may not have been able to control your past, but you can take hold of your future. The tragic villain may add layers to the character, but it is not a character to be patterned after. Use character perception instead; you may think he or she is a villain, but instead there is more than one way of seeing them. Character perception is a great way to write both a hero and a villain in the same person. 

~ ~ ~

     That was really fun! I didn't realize there was so much I wanted to say! There are a lot of story molds that need to be broken or just redone in a certain way. A girl can be in love with two guys and vice versa, but don't make it a fight. Introduce a new character that comes in and stirs up the triangle. Female characters are difficult to write, but keep in mind that women don't have to be men to get through in the world. And the tragic villain should be a life lesson that no matter how bad one may have had it, evil done in return can and never will be validated. 

      Other posts I've done on topics similar to these:

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