View Full Version : sterotypes
January 6th, 2006, 06:31 AM
Ok, so i am freaking myself out a bit! I started a feministfantasy community on live jorunal to talk about the role of women in fantasy, and since doing that i have realised that i have used those steryotypes that people are ranting about. i have the strong warriror woman, who has ltos of sex, and wears tight clothes
the cold, intellegent woman
and the powerful sorcererss type
and granted i added a few things to make them different (the warriror woman is stronger than the hero, she is also middle aged, has scars and when she does take a lover, she outranks him, and the sorcereress can't use her magic for most of the book she is in (its illegal where they are)
but i have still done them
and i have them with my male characters as well.
the reluctant hero (but in this case he is the reluctant anti hero, as that is what he is really. and instead of getting the throne, he looses it)
and the rougish bard character
and i feel rather bad for it now!
so i was just wondering, what sterotypes have you got (to make me feel better!) and do you think it is neccessarily a bad thing? i mean, most writers have them, and i think as long as they are believable, they will work
what do you think?
January 6th, 2006, 09:43 AM
Some stereotypes are archetypical, ignore them at your peril. There is a reason why these characters pop up again and again.
I tend to fall right into some stereotypical characters; the eccentric problem solver, the reluctant hero, the strong-willed female (I tried a ditzy 'blonde' character once, but couldn't live with it). I don't aviod these characters, but I try not to make them too stereotypical.
Sometimes I try to "cast againt type", that is, I take a stereotypical character and put them in an antethetic situation, in some way. For example, I may put the eager hero together with unwilling victims, the strong lone hero together with a herd of teddy bears. (Okay, I've never done either one of those, but I could, they are just examples..)
Then there is the theory that there are only 75 people in the world, the rest are just duplicates.
January 6th, 2006, 10:06 AM
I have to agree. There's a reason where we have stereotypical or cliche characters in fantasy - they're staples of the genre.
In order to add some originality, if you want to, I'd suggest you read more. And not just within your own genre. Take the time to study different characters. When you find yourself drawn to a particular character, what is it that attracts you to him or her?
You say that a "strong female" is stereotypical, but there's all sorts of ways a woman can be strong, isn't there? By strong, you can mean she's physically able to lift a lot, or you can mean she's a good soldier (which does not necessarily require physical strength). Or she could be a good fighter - a good fighter is not always a good soldier. Then there's inner stength. Moral strength. Emotional strength. Strength of will and or conviction. Strength of character. Strength of mind. Strength of devotion. I can go on, but you get the picture.
Further, many people are strong from a certain point of view. Many people are beautiful in the same way. But beauty and strength are like photographs taken at an instant. They don't last forever.
January 9th, 2006, 04:40 AM
I don't write mediaeval questing fantasy myself...but I do tend to have strong women in the sense that they tend to solve the hero's problems for him better than he does himself. I've rarely had a problem with stereotypes, though, despite having a "whore with a golden heart" type person.
I think my biggest advice would be to make women into complex characters. Don't worry about the clichés.
As long as you have women who worry about tomorrow, sometimes feel unsure about social interactions, have bad days and good days, sometimes do unexpected things for the heck of it, get drunk, lose their tempers, feel lonely and do all the other things normal people do, stereotypes shouldn't be a problem.
January 9th, 2006, 06:57 AM
hope so! it just makes me feel bad, because of all my ranting abotu how awful it is when other writers treat their women characters badly, i dont' feel as though i have done mine justice either!
January 9th, 2006, 09:48 AM
I forgot an obvious stereotype, or archetype,
I had a friend in college, a lit major, who said in all great stories there is a christ figure. If there isn't, you can argue for one. It may be pressing the point, because some of that set of themes are part of living in a society.
For ex--LOTR: Gandalf-resurrection and power. Frodo-carrying the weight of the world. Aragorn-rightful king.
I don't consciously add this one, but there are times when it shows up in what I write.
January 9th, 2006, 10:21 AM
OTR: Gandalf-resurrection and power. Frodo-carrying the weight of the world. Aragorn-rightful king.
Splitting it up is cheating. :P
After all the Jesus story deals with standard human questions:
Persecution. Death. Resurrection. The rightful King in a lowly position-business.
If you split it up into several characters it's not so much a Jesus figure as a multicharacter-representation of human issues.
January 9th, 2006, 11:46 AM
I suspect that if you look at any character long enough, you could come up with how she/he is some sort of stereotype.
January 9th, 2006, 02:10 PM
Who cares if your character fits a stereotype? It's how they act that is important: in the hands of a good writer, acharacter becomes vital and interesting regardless of whether they are a 'reluctant hero' or whatever. It's only dull if they are nothing more than a stereotype.
January 9th, 2006, 02:16 PM
i guess i cared because i was talking abotu how bad it is that writers often have these few steryotypes for women. and as a feminist, and a writer, i had liked tot hink that i had done something better with my female characters and made them more than these shallow sterotypes.
but, at the same time. martin's characters can be seen as sterotypes, and he expanded them beyond that. so i am hoping people will see that. instead of saying, oh loko, another ice queen type character, another woman fighter who is pretty and likes sex, they will see more to it, because i hopefully put more in there!
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