Stereotypical Fiction

As long as we have fiction, we will continue to have stereotypes.

I know. That’s a pretty bold statement to start off a Monday. I’m basically saying that we will never stop judging and assuming one’s character based on certain traits and characteristics and mannerisms. Well, as long as we keep writing books anyway.

X drove a Mercedes. When you read that sentence, what does the word Mercedes bring to the story that car doesn’t? Wealth, privilege, debt, flash?

If I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a pinky ring and Italian leather loafers what do you see in your mind?

I I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a Swiss watch and donned bright white tennis sneakers, what do you picture in your mind?

If I said that X drove a 1972 Mercedes, wore birkenstocks and no jewelry, what would that tell you?

If you thought gangster, WASP and hippie are you stereotyping? Are you assuming the final tally based on the digits, even though I never used the words gangster, WASP or hippie?

Are you an old fashioned stereotyper? Or are you just deciphering clues?

Is the whole process of show not tell an exercise in how to stereotype?

I watched a medical drama last night. The character in the hospital bed said “Girl, you have to see the Doctor, He fly.” If you read that line of dialogue in a book, would you make any assumptions about the character? Would it be stereotyping if you made an assumption about the speaker of that dialogue?

When we read fiction do we make assumptions based on description? I wrote in one of my passages last week “couch with welcoming back support”. I was, as someone said, trying to denote that the speaker was at least in middle age. Young people never look at a piece of furniture and wonder about it’s comfort, or how easy it will be to get in or out of it…but some older people do. Not every person of a certain age thinks about the comfort of a chair…but some do… Is it wrong to guess the character I was describing was oldish?

So, do we rid our lives of fiction so that we can lead a life with no judging others based on characteristics?

Or do we just learn to deal with the fact that humans stereotype, always have stereotyped and always will?

What Inspired Me: October 10

  • We did another city walk this week- The location was the East Village. I love the East Village. I am often in the East Village. The problem with this is that I’ve already seen the majority of things included in this walk, and I know many of the historic facts about this neighborhood. That being said, it was a beautiful sunny day to walk the neighborhood with Betty, and remind myself of the musical associations of this neighborhood…
  • Yellow Rose bills itself as a Texas Restaurant. I can’t validate the authenticity, but I had a delicious Migos Taco and the best buttermilk glazed donut.
  • I was in a Broadway Theater this week! First Time since March the year that shall not be named…Ten minutes after I took a picture of the stage, the great John Lithgow came out and read poems from his new book. And a few hours from now, I will be seeing my first Broadway performance since March 2020…
  • The new exhibit at the Met is Surrealism Beyond Borders. After viewing this exhibit, I have decided that I don’t really care for surrealism. I thought it was funny that the pieces that I was drawn to were, for the most part, works of famous artists. The other thing that intrigued me about the exhibit was how many verbal descriptions lined the walls. It made me wonder if you need to give a lot of background to a work, is it really that good? I can’t help but think of the writing maxim- show don’t tell. I’m going to overthink this a bit and probably blog about it in the future.
  • We are about to begin a burger list- we started at Happiest Hour, which is really a bar with wonderful cocktails, a charming and wonderful bouncer, and a pretty awesome cheeseburger. I got the single, but they also have a double. Imagine a Big Mac but oh so much tastier. The tater tots were pretty good too!
  • Bill Cunningham was an iconic photographer for the NY Times (I don’t really read the Times for the news- I read it for culture and style) He used to ride around and snap pictures of things that caught his eye- mainly stylish people. My fashionista friends used to worry that the day they were in sweats and a pony tail would be the day that they saw Bill cycle by…He had been one of my favorite parts of NYT. However, this poor excuse for an exhibit does not do the memory of Bill Cunningham any good- its awful…
  • To get the awful taste of the awful exhibit out of my palate, I needed to go to Funny Face Bakery- OK- I didn’t get a cookie but I did enjoy looking at the beautiful creations
  • The Wavertree is offering free tours- it was a cargo ship used in the late 1800’s. Fun to see, and did I say free?
  • Cheeseburger Hash Browns are a thing- and they’re delicious…
  • The Rescue is a documentary about the rescue mission of the Thai soccer team caught in a cave- just such an amazing story

Gratitude Saturday: October 9

I was at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday, looking at the produce and trying to keep Betty from eating things fallen to the ground. I watched a man pay for his produce and then the seller try to give the man back his 3$ in change- the man waved it off and pointed the the produce another customer had left on the scale.

One customer wanted to pay for the food of another.

When the cashier told the young woman, she smiled and laughed. The cashier smiled and said that the benefactor didn’t even wait for a thank you.

Everyone at the stand just smiled and laughed a bit. The cashier said to his coworker- “That’s America for you. You just never know.”

While I was neither giver or receiver in this little drama, I was grateful to witness it. I am grateful for small, random acts of kindness. I am grateful that I shared this moment in time with people whom I do not know, yet I feel that we will all sort of remember one another.

The Conclusion

If you played along all week, you know that I was riffing on the age old conundrum of boy meets girl, loses her, and then gets her back again. I took that little sliver of time between loss and retrieval and I tried to get into the mindset, sort of, of the guy.

So the first thing I was trying to point out is: There are multiple ways to tell the exact same story. Our stories don’t really change- but the way they are written does.

I did learn a hard lesson though. Word choice is extremely important, When I titled my pieces I used the word “part” when I should have used “version”. To some, this might not mean much, but it was enough of a mistake to confuse many a reader. If writers don’t use the right words, the reader can’t figure out what the piece is about.

Splat- Part 1 https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/04/and-now-for-something-completely-different/

  1. Does the description of the chair add to the story or take away?
  2. Repetitive use of the word splat- I know one reader thought this took her out, but another reader liked it. This is a style choice. Does the repetition give you a feeling of the type of story or character?
  3. Were you upset that you only learned his height? Did you want to know what he looked like?
  4. What guesses did you make about the man? I know one person thought him a narcissist…

Scotchhttps://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/05/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-2/

  1. What did using alcohol as a way to describe moods say about this character?
  2. Would you have preferred brand names- like, if I said Miller High Life, would it have been different in your mind than me saying Guinness?
  3. What guesses did you make about this person?

Texthttps://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/06/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-3/

  1. Did doing this is text format make you think this person was of a certain age?
  2. If it did remind you of someone younger, do you feel it is an age thing or a generation thing? Will everyone be speaking like this is twenty years?

Omniscient (was this really omniscient? 2nd person?)https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/07/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-four/

  1. Was this style of story telling too impersonal for this type of story?

As I gave you very little, how much of your own imagination came into play when you read the snippets? How much does the reader bring to a story versus what a writer brings to a story? After reading the scotch one, a reader wondered why the guy thought of alcohol first when he was considering a solution, and if there was a greater issue there. I admit, I hadn’t thought of that when I was writing the piece. I knew I was doing first person and I was trying to be clever and different than the chair piece. But if this was a work in progress, I might make alcohol a bigger issue. But I guess my question is, are all details relevant in a story, or are some things just flavor?

How carefully does an author choose details? Is the mark of how good an author is determined by which details they choose and how they are presented?

What assumptions did you make when reading the different pieces?

Age?

Physical appearance?

Education?

Job?

Socio economic status?

Why?

What type of book do you think these would be in? Rom com? Literary fiction? Women’s fiction?

I guess I want to know, as a reader, what you garnered from what was written this past week. I wrote a blog a few months ago about writing for readers versus writing for writers, and based on the comments of that post, I was inspired try this experiment this week. I’m trying to figure out what a readers expectations are… This is where my analyst side tries to interfere with my literary side…. trying to quantify the steps of reading and writing. Thank you for playing along with me!!

How do we read what writers write?

Comment on anything that you want!! I’m listening and learning!!

And Now For Something Completely Different: Part Four

Today is the last day of my experiment! If you’re reading today for the first time- the short answer is that my posts this week all sort of rely on one another, and conclusions will be drawn tomorrow. My goal has been to tell one little piece of a story but four slightly different ways.


A tale as old as time…

Boy meets girl, manages to lose them, amazingly gets them back again…

Trite.

Cliche.

Been there done that…Well- we were going down the trite and cliched path- why wouldn’t I include that old chestnut…oops…there I go again…

But Dear Reader back to our story, where we find our hero wondering how to get the woman of his dreams back…

How did he lose her? you say. Well that’s a very good question. There are all sorts of ways that I could answer that, but suffice it to say, we often lose the things that we fail to pay attention to. And then of course, once that thing is lost, we realize how very important it was.

How does he get her back?

Will he conjure up the right words? Will he do the right deeds? Will he convince her the errors of his ways? Flattery, artifice, brutal honesty- which trick will he pull out?

Will our man get back the woman?

Or will the woman say “Enough is enough”?


hhttps://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/05/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-2/

https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/04/and-now-for-something-completely-different/ https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/06/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-3/

And Now for Something Completely Different- Part 3

By now, hopefully you know that this is experimentation week. I am using by blog as a tool to try our something about writing- playing around with different ways of telling the same part of a story. I don’t really know what it’s going to accomplish, but I thought it would make for an interesting discussion, and I’m guessing it’s going to spur me on to something else. Please be kind with critique as the following passage has not been edited and is a very rough draft. It’s the idea of the style that I’m playing with.https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/04/and-now-for-something-completely-different/ https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/05/and-now-for-something-completely-different-part-2/


First Draft of Text Message

Hey- What’s Up


Second Draft of Text Message

I wanted to talk to you about what happened. I didn’t mean to say those things, but sometimes you just push too much


Third Draft of Text Message

You know how I feel about you


Fourth Draft of Text Message

I’m sorry.

And Now for Something Completely Different- Part 2

I am experimenting this week- and for the first time ever I am making you read all the blogs I post this week. Well, you don’t have to, but I’d really like it if you did. I am attempting to tell the same piece of a story, but in different ways. Remember when you critique that these are first drafts that have not been edited at all- the point is to get the idea of different storytelling techniques.https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2021/10/04/and-now-for-something-completely-different/

Scotch or beer?

Isn’t that the first question I ask myself when I need to think out a problem?

Of course, the problem is that I’m an idiot. I guess beer goes better with idiocy. It’s the drink of frat parties and epic fail videos. Being stupid to the woman you love completely belongs in the epic fail category.

However, when you’re trying to apologize, or think about apologizing, maybe that’s a scotch situation. Scotch is a slow sipping deliberate sort of drink. Just dulls the edges. Scotch is contemplative.

So I guess beer right after you screw up. Scotch when you figure out how to put it back together. I’ll save the tequila for when she tells me to screw myself.

And Now for Something Completely Different

This week I am going to try something different- but I’m guessing you got that by the title. In order to understand what I am trying to do, you will need to read every day this week. Sorry- I realize that I am assigning homework, but I have an idea and I want to see it through. The following is fiction. My goal is to tell a small piece of a story, but to do it four different ways, and then see what you all think about the different ways of telling a story. remember to be kind in criticism because you all know I only do one draft and what you see will not be edited. It’s just an idea.

He sat down in the chair with a sigh. This ugly brown chair. This ugly, uncomfortable, mud brown chair. Out of all the chairs in the room, did he purposely choose to sit in the least comfortable one? He could have sat in the soft, welcoming arm chair with the ottoman perfectly placed in front. There’s always the sofa with it’s sleek leather cushions and welcoming back support. But no, he chose this wooden relic of a chair, with it’s slightly too small seat and the back piece referred to as a splat.

Splat. Yes, he realized as he tried impossibly to adjust his taller than average but shorter than tall body on this poor excuse for a chair, a chair with a piece called a splat was sort of a perfect penance for the chair he would use to fix the stupid mistake he had made three weeks before.

Splat went his happiness that day.

Splat went any chance of happiness in the future.

If he could only manage to mutter the words he needed to say.

Splat went his heart.

What Inspired Me: October 3

  • Blog friends meet The Temple of Dendur: This is one of my favorite rooms in the whole world. I just love everything about this room.
  • I love brunch because it’s the best part of sweet and savory. Hello bacon, egg and swiss french toast…
  • The Worst Person in the World is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. I was lucky enough to see it as part of a film festival, so I got to hear (seated) Joaquim Trier (Director), Renate Reinsve (star), Anders Danielsen Lie (star), and NYFF Eugene Hernandez (Director NYFF59). What’s funny watching a subtitled film is acknowledging how fast people read and get the subtitles…the laughter starts at different points. I wonder if the late laughers think it’s funny or just want to be part of the crowd.
  • Most thought provoking movie of the year goes to I’m Your Man– if you like my posts about romance and tech, then this movie should be on your to be watch list
  • When I bought tickets for last Wednesday’s game, the Mets were in a position to make it to the post season. Yeah….there’s always next year…

Gratitude Saturday: October 2

My Mom called me up the other day told me she didn’t remember her social security number and then cursed for five minutes about computers and technology.

I am grateful that, considering all the emotions I could have experienced, I chose laughter.

I am also grateful that the ticket collector at the Metropolitan Museum of Art chose laughter when I tried to enter the museum using my Metrocard instead of my membership card…