oil on canvas, 1936.
Annoyed by stereotypes about middle-aged women -- the whole fat, frumpy and over-forty mold -- the Anti-Wife is running a contest/challenge (with prezzies) for a male or female profile which does not conform to the standard over-the-hill mode.
And at Murder She Writes, a discussion in progress deals with the viability of mature romance heroines.
There's always a lot of projection involved in this sort of discussion and mis-application of demographics , as well as societal expectations and assumptions about sex over 35, etc., etc. -- which I won't get into. These various points of view are well and articulately presented over there.
Writers should try to avoid stereotypes -- that's a given -- but I wonder about types.
I'm not sure they are the same thing -- especially in terms of minor characters introduced in a novel.
Their brief appearances do not justify excessive individualization; and further, any protagonist is likely, much like anyone in real life, to quickly classify such chance-met characters accordingly -- that is, according to type.
Digging through the MS of Tempest in Time, (the heroine of which is over forty, btw) I came across this passage:
The conference moderator, Miss Cheltingham, a commanding female with a mellifluous voice -- who should never, never wear red -- began her welcoming spiel.
"Our Documentary will consist of live re-enactments Enhanced by voice-overs of contextual information, alternating with Readings from the historical record, film slides of the countryside as it is today, and excerpts from our Assembled experts' Dissection of the Legend."
She paused and spread both hands wide. A portly man beside her moved back a pace.
"First on our itinery I invite you to tour Durham Castle and the Cathedral. The Famous Falchion rests in the Cathedral's Treasury where we will view it, along with other Significant relics of this area, such as St. Cuthbert's pectoral Cross and the Tomb of the Venerable Bede. The bus for this most Important tour leaves in the morning at 8:3 Sharp."
Miss Cheltingham folded her arms as if to emphasize they were expected To Be On Time.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this promises to be an engaging and exciting Travel in Time."
She beamed at them as if they were all very Good Children.
Miss Cheltingham is definitely a type. A recognizable type, forsooth.
A type one may encounter at a horticultural society meeting as often as at a business conference.
But is she a stereotype?
Quite possibly. I hope she serves, incidentally, as a contrast to the main character.
Those sweet little/raunchy little old ladies, the dirty old/wise old men, the smart-assed/mouthy and/or adorable kids -- or the power-suited, rising-fifty spinsters -- have their roles in fiction.
Because we encounter them in real life.
With Great Pleasure I Announce:
Some of you long-time readers may remember my sister-friend Bonnie.
(Had we met when we were younger, we probably would have ended up sharing adjoining cells.)
If you check out the link below you will see why she has been comment- absent. In addition to writing and life, she has been horrendously busy building a terrific platform in her genre. Take note.
Terry Burns of Hartline Literary has been lucky enough to snag and sign her as a client to represent her thriller Touched by Fire.
Usually we think writers are the lucky ones when they acquire an agent.
This time I think Mr. Burns is the fortunate party. Because Bonnie -- to use the venacular -- rocks.
Congratulations, Mr. Burns. You have a winner!