Stereotypes. The word itself leaves a bad taste in my mouth.We all know the sorts of things I’m talking about.
A shy, quiet girl falling for the popular boy and the two of them ending up in a relationship. The hero or heroine of a fantasy being the object of a prophecy that makes it so they HAVE to complete their quest for motives that are not entirely their own.
What, guys? Why would you do this to your story? Your plot becomes boring, uninspiring, and- let’s face it- downright predictable.
And what keeps a reader reading? They want to find out what happens! If they already know what’s going to happen, what’s the payoff for the reader?
So now it’s time to subvert the reader’s expectations, rather than giving them another lesson about how ‘introversion is a flaw that needs to be overcome’, ‘girls will find love if they change themselves to accommodate the athletic idiot’, and ‘guys who express their emotions are girly’, or any other cliches.
How can you apply this to your story?
For myself, I write fantasy. The cliche is that it has to be set in medieval Europe (specifically, England), there’s no modern technology whatsoever, heroines are always featured in love triangles, and magic is innately given + has only smaller limits, such as not resurrecting people from the dead.
My latest story will be set near modern times, on an island archipelago where there’s modern technology, a heroine that does not waste her time dithering about who loves her or doesn’t love her, and magic is a talent that can be learned (despite some being predisposed to better use magic)… and on top of that, magic can only be used for an objectively good purpose, such as defending their country from invaders.
Am I saying you all have to be so extreme about how many differences you have? Of course not. Most writing advice is subjective, and what works for me, may not work for you.
But I urge you to take a close look at your genre and its’ expectations and make sure your read is unpredictable.
Best of luck.