Stereotypical expectations

I’m currently working on character sketches for a web serial I hope to start writing soon. I wanted to have it started by August, but that’s obviously not going to happen. Regardless, this web serial is going to be one of the longer projects I’ve written so I found a very detailed character sketch template. It’s really useful and asks for some really wonderful details to help flesh out the character. My favourite of which is “In the character’s own words: something the character says which is illustrative of her/his self-perception.” Dialogue is my favourite part of writing. I’m kinda awful at the describing things/people, and am potentially going to take to Douglas Adamsian route of describing things. (For example, his description of space. “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”) I do love how Adams can make you laugh and give an honest description of something without ever quite saying what it looks like. So, with my future writing, I hope to try something in this style. I’m getting off track, though. The reason I like this style is because I write very dialogue heavy things. This section of the sketch really helps me understand my characters because I tend to think in conversations. If I can imagine two characters talking to each other I feel like I really start to understand who they are.

The rest of this character sketch is not dialogue based, unfortunately, and there is one section of it I continue to struggle with.

Is the reader likely to have stereotypical expectations about this character?
How does the character defy the stereotype?
How does she conform to the stereotype?

The thing is, this story is about Norse Gods. With some characters, I manage to answer these questions really easily. Will people have stereotypical expectations of Thor? Yes. Page one, he’s gonna be a big, boisterous, ginger, brute. There are a lot of stereotypes there. I understand fully how he will conform to an deny the stereotypes as well. I won’t say how because I hope you’ll all read this stuff and have a reason to worry about spoilers. These questions are definitely easy to answer in regards to Thor. However they aren’t so easy to answer when thinking about other characters. Like Balder for example.

One of the major issues that comes along with writing Norse characters is that many of the people I know have only ever been exposed to them via Marvel Comics and Marvel movies. My versions of the characters are based much more directly on the myths however. I don’t think people (at least those I’ve encountered) have much of an understanding of Thor or any of the Norse gods, so the stereotypes associated with the characters will probably be based on how I initially write the characters. Balder is a bit of a strange case though. He’s a god of beauty and poetry, and he’s an extremely kind person. He’s destined to die (his death triggering Ragnarok). So since I’ve never met people who know much about Balder, I’m not sure if a friendly god of beauty fated to die will trigger stereotypical expectations or not. This isn’t a type of person I’ve ever encountered. I think I’ve been wanting to answer this first question “yes” every time because I like to think about how they may defy stereotypes. But this may be a case where there isn’t an immediate stereotype. It is a pretty unique situation. So what do you think? Does a beautiful, fit, blonde man with a heart of gold and a morbid destiny trigger any stereotypes in your mind? Leave a comment and let me know!

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