1. daiisydukes
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    daiisydukes Member

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    Suburban Characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by daiisydukes, Mar 9, 2013.

    How do I properly write a suburbanite mother and father, with a modern day hipster-ish daughter?
    The parents have come to live with certain things like their daughter dying her hair cherry red, and having a nose piercing. But how do I write them in the way where they still come off as a very stereotypical white suburban family?
    The mother is already a stay at home mom, even though her daughter is 17.
    Any tips?
     
  2. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    Let me answer your question with a question: why are you treating your characters as stereotypes?
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would you want to intentionally make them come off as a "very stereotypical white suburban family?"

    Nobody fits a stereotype 100%. The facts that the family lives in the suburbs, in a house, and the mother is a SAHM in and of themselves establish a certain mindset and degree of conformity to the characters. But when you get to know them more, they'll always have unique characteristics. backgrounds, hobbies and interests.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What Liz and wideman said.

    Stereotypes aren't generally very interesting to read about. What makes characters interesting is the manner in which they are shaped by their personal circumstances. Studied up-close-and-personal, people are not so easy to categorize, even if at first glance they appear to be.
     
  5. maze
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    maze New Member

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    Generally, you can make them SEEM stereotypical but they will almost always have a few quirks (very few people, if any, fit a stereotype to a key). Anyways, if you are trying to make them seem more believable, then try observing how families like these actually interact with each other and the world around them.

    When trying to create a character (or setting for that matter), research is a wonderful thing.
     
  6. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    content removed by author
     
  7. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    The OP is looking for tips about desribing a stereotypical family in the burbs. How do you know her mainstream family don't have a basement full of bodies?

    Instead of telling her to write something else, why not just answer her question?
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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  9. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I think if the OP can't write about that 'nothing-spectacular' family then she has problems. Does she want us to write it for her? Moving on from that, everybody steers her in a different direction which is possibly worse than not helping at all...

    Si et ego Ceaser...
     
  10. daiisydukes
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    daiisydukes Member

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    Okay so I sincerely hope I offended no one - but what helped me come up with these characters, originally, was a story my friend told me a lot.
    She told me about these neighbors she had that recently moved out. When they moved in, when she was in grade 3, the two family's seemed to get a long. But the next year, her and her brother seemed to start to slip outside the norm of a 9 and 6 year old. She not only was into every different type of music, but wore costumes to school every day - just for the heck of it.
    On top of that, her parents both worked in opera, and - gasp they had a working mom. Yes, the mother actually had a job in management, whereas the husband was a stay-at-home, self-employed opera singer.
    Whereas their neighbors had two perfectly normal kids, a son and a daughter, a cute little dog. The mom stayed at home, and the dad had a 9 - 5 job that payed the bills and put food on their plates.
    Needless to say, their neighbors hated them.

    I'm not necessarily trying to make these parents be 100% white suburban stereotype. But most of it will be similar to that, not because I want to embrace stereotype, but because that's how I see the character's with looks and traits. As well, my plot is that the parents hire hypnotist so that their daughter can't remember certain past events.
    So in essence there's a plot twist. Like you said, basement full of bodies.

    I'm not asking anyone to tell me how to write my story, I'm just asking for examples and guidelines to help me. Isn't that what these forums are for?
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I still don't quite understand what you're asking us. You have an idea in your head of what these characters are like, which is what you consider close to a white suburban stereotype. Well, describe and characterize them according to what that means to you and the image you have of them in your head. I suggest you spend some time with your characters by writing some scenes with them -- just what, exactly, do they do on a typical day? Dad comes home from work -- what car is he driving? What was his job? Is he happy to be home? Who is already at home -- I assume Mom is home, having just cooked dinner, and it's all ready for him to eat soon after arriving home. Are both kids home? What has Mom cooked? Does she love to cook or does she hate it? Is she happy Dad is home? Does Dad like what she cooked? If he loves it, is that why Mom made it? Or does Dad hate it, and that's why Mom made it? Did Mom go to cooking school? Does she work her way through the Top Chef cookbook -- or does she methodically go through 365 Ways to Cook Chicken, and makes a different dish each night? (Tonight's the 124th day of the year, so it's chicken recipe 124.) Does she buy the chicken in bulk at Costco, and take exactly 4 pieces out of the basement freezer filled with chicken each night? Or does she go to a farm where the chickens are pastured and happy until they die?

    There are all kinds of nuances and details you can fill in -- those are the fun parts.
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Chicagoliz says, you can list all the stuff this family does but in a way thats joyous to read. Are the kids doing homework? johns hates maths and doodles till dinner drawing anything he can to avoid his numerical nightmare. Mom's had to disconnect the wifi untill it's done but he's waiting for dad to come to "borrow" his smart phone to go on facebook while Mary is climbing down the drainpipe to go meet the emo boy on the corner. Mom is up to her elbows in chicked batter and dad is stuck in traffic watching that dirty bastard pick his nose in the rear view mirror.

    Are these the kind of stereotypical scenes you are after or do you have something else in mind?

    Maybe watch the stepford wives....
     
  13. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Suggest: what if they look and act like the typical Suburban Family but in reality their spies or superheros.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    First, I hate to do this, but I cringe every time I see it, especially on a site for writers -- it should be "in reality, they're spies or superheroes."

    But, more to the point, I don't have the sense that this was the type of story that the OP had in mind at all. This would be completely different, and, while no more or less worthy, doesn't really address the issue of making them true to life or making them seem real. That issue would still need to be addressed even if the characters were superheroes.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see anyone telling her to "write something else". I see people telling her to avoid a common trap of the novice writer, which is relying on cliched stereotypes as characters. My own view, developed from reading a variety of stories over a rather long period of time, is that the best characters are not painted-by-numbers, even ones with stereotypical aspects. Therefore, my advice to anyone who asks is to build their characters from the ground up, just like real people.
     

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