More Thoughts on Characters

There is a trend lately I’ve noticed.  Perhaps it’s been this way for a long time, but it didn’t start to grab my attention until about five years ago.  I don’t know if it is the hypersensitive culture we now live in that’s contributing or not, but it appears that individual characters in fiction are viewed as representing a whole group.  An example, someone I used to know made the comment he doesn’t like the show Home Improvement because Tim Taylor is aloof and a bad example of a husband, father, and a man in general.  That assessment may be true, but that isn’t the point.  Tim’s character isn’t supposed to represent all men it is an exaggeration of what some men might be like, or more specifically these are traits specific to his character that are hyperbolic due to the comedy genre. 

I have come across countless critiques like this where someone will complain about a character poorly representing women, the LGBT, religion, race, or anything you can think of.  There may be certain isolated incidents where this complaint is warranted due to shady motivations from the writer.  However, unless there is evidence to support that the writer is using a character to propel stereotypes, that shouldn’t be assumed.

The personality traits of my characters reflect on them alone.  If a woman has a weakness that doesn’t mean I think all women are weak or need to be saved by men.  If there is a male character in my books that is a little dull that doesn’t mean I think men are dull or can only survive if a woman is there to prop him up.

Fiction, if done right, should not be afraid to have a variety of characters and the personalities of the individuals in the story do not necessarily reflect on a greater whole.

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