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  1. angel2016

    angel2016 Member

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    How do I handle a possible stereotype?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by angel2016, Aug 2, 2016.

    Strange question, but I've run into an issue here. My story is soft science fiction, probably soft enough to be considered fantasy. I need to have a character explain something theoretical to my main character, but I don't want to go into the details, because...fantasy.

    I was thinking this character could explain it and I could have my mc kind of space out while he's explaining it, and only catch the major details, but because she's a woman, I feel a little awkward handling it that way. I did write it that way at first, and my mc came off as..well...a stereotypical woman who can't handle science.

    I'm a woman and an engineer, so I obviously know women are smart enough, but I don't want to deal with engineering and science and details it in my story.

    How else can I handle this?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    First question: Why does the explanation need to be "onscreen" at all?
     
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  3. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    or you could just write:

    She explained to Bobette the complex nature of wizbangery using wild hand gestures and getting overly excited by even the minor details, like how the thermal intake valve is pressure tested inside a vat of goo.

    You don't need to 'quote' everything all the time.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the other posters... if your character doesn't care, your readers don't care. Cut it back until your character starts caring.
     
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  5. angel2016

    angel2016 Member

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    Thanks, everyone. I'd really rather it happen off-screen, but...first draft problems. I need to tell myself the story first. I'm hoping I can find a way to cut it later.
     
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  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the lead protagonists of my Doctor Who fanfic is a promiscuous bisexual serial killer. And believe me, I had to do a lot of rewriting when I found out how bad that combination was.

    But here's the thing: individuals aren't stereotypes, only patterns are stereotypes. The problem wasn't that I had a promiscuous bisexual serial killer in my story, the problem was that 100% of my bisexual cast was a promiscuous serial killer. Easy solution: I made one of my other characters (initially envisioned as being asexual-aromantic like me) bi and set him up with one of the other guys in my story (while off-handedly mentioning that he'd had girlfriends in the past). Let me tell you, this made his story a thousand times better on top of salvaging the presentation of my serial killer character.

    Does it have to be a "he" who's explaining the details you want your woman to not be paying attention to?
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  7. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    Point is, she doesn't need to be an airhead to not pay attention to an explanation, she just needs to be busy with something else. Hope I didn't mess with too many fandoms there. :)
     
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  8. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you have a complex character they are not just a stereotype, and female is a very common demographic. So it would be exceedingly easy to put another female in there of any other kind, with any number of differences. Try doing a character with Alopecia Universalis, I pretty much can't put anyone else in, I just have to hope nobody takes any stereotyping accusations of that particular character. Hopefully, people will be rational enough not to take him as the sole representative of everyone with the condition, especially since I've heard civil rights interested people complain about being taken as a sole representative of their group.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  9. angel2016

    angel2016 Member

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    Ha! It does not, and was originally meant to be another woman.

    I think I'm going to work harder at making this behind the scenes, though.
     
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  10. Keystroke

    Keystroke New Member

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    On another note, you could have her be doing something non-stereotypical like, I dunno, fixing an engine or something while she is being explained to. As long as it fits her character, at least. That way she has a reason to not pay much attention to the other person. You can have the reader "hear" little snippets of explanation and maybe have some comedic potential.
     
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  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    okay step back - if your main character doesnt need to know the "stuff" then why do you need a character to explain it, in fact why does the stuff need to be in the book at all ? If you are using this as shorthand for explaining stuff your audience needs to know then you need to explain t in more detail and perhaps have it explained to a third character in your MCs hearing.

    If your audience doesn't need to know it either you could just kick the whole scene into the long grass,
     
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  12. theamorset

    theamorset Contributing Member

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    I don't see why your story can't have some technical explanation.

    There can be technical explanations in fantasy. There's no reason to purge ALL technical explanations. I've seen some very well done passages like that in fantasy.

    The key always seems to be that there is a mixture of accepted, known technical information from our world, with a key element of fantasy from the world of the story.

    Example, bad example, but the Jedi knights' special powers are based on elements that exist in their blood. These are measured scientifically, with a blood test, and their level predicts the level of special powers(very logical), but their actual existence and what they're able to do, is the fantasy.

    Their actual existence and what they're able to do are never questioned in the story; that's the fantasy. It's very clear that's an accepted part of that world.

    Similarly in the Lord of the Rings it's an accepted part of that world that hobbits exist. That's never examined or questioned in the story, except by ents, as they are not familiar with hobbits, and call them little orcs.

    Another possibility is that the character doesn't listen to the technical explanation because she's very busily worrying about something else that does show her intelligence and scientific ability.

    In general, stereotypes are bad and should be avoided. They insult the reader who dislikes said stereotype and often make them put the book down. But even among readers that like the stereotype, they lull the reader to sleep and the rest of the story fades into dull.
     
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  13. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does the explanation say about the character?

     
  14. theamorset

    theamorset Contributing Member

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    that was weird.
     
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