In my fiction workshop this week, a classmate told me that one of my drug addicted characters was not believable. The classmate said that an addict wouldn’t be that nice.

Well, it got me thinking. Really thinking. Are addicts essentially not nice? Why do we need our addicts to be just so? Isn’t it possible that characters who belong to a particular group can sometimes break our expectations?

Why is it that some people are more comfortable with stereotypical characters? What is gained by storytelling when characters are cardboard cut-outs? Does every character have to be a Dudley Do Right or Snidley Whiplash?


Writers have a choice when creating their characters. They can write characters in accordance with many people’s expectations or they can write characters that undermine those expectations.

What does this choice say about a writer’s social perspective?

One Response to Breaking Our Expectations

  1. Mario says:

    I like your observation. I have come across many people in my lifetime that don’t fit into any sort of stereo-types. It’s precisely these sorts of characters that I find interesting and that I want to write about. But of course, the obstacle of tending to a reader’s expectation is drawn with a fine and tricky line. In dealing with whether a character is believable or not, a teacher once told me that a character can do the most unexpected thing as long as the narrator makes the reader believe it. Then he gave ‘Metamorphosis’ as an example. 😉

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