In a previous post, author Sarina Bowen discussed  tropes in New Adult.  There's so much in this post I love, and it ties so well into today's topic of…


What sort of research am I talking about?
Anything and everything. For every NA book, your characters major or particular job field may need research. (Law school? Nursing school? Medical school?). Did your character not go to college and instead has already started his or her career? Is it a sports novel?

How does this tie in with Sarina's post on tropes?
·         Tropes are considered to be recurring literary devices.
·         Stereotypes, by losoe definition, are specific ideas, often oversimplified, of a type of person or thing.

Without proper research, we can create and perpetuate stereotypes, even if unintentionally.

As some of you may know, I'm all about busting up gender-stereotypes. I love to crush them, in real life and in my novels. In Fierce, gender-stereotypes, MMA, and fighter stereotypes are turned upside down. Tori, Fierce's leading lady, is a female fighter. Those last two words already start to pull gender-stereotypes apart. 

Stereotypes are not only often inaccurate and often misleading, they also lead to flat characters.

Stereotypes go beyond gender, race, and ethnicity. There are also cultural stereotypes, which are often used in New Adult. I'm talking musicians, fighters, actors, athletes and so on. NA is a great place for these cultures and subcultures, and we owe it to these cultures, these themes, and our readers to give them authenticity. 

Not only do you need to research to know your characters and make them dimensional, you also need to research to know the culture and the ins-and-outs of it of what he or she is depicting. 

As a reader, I feel infuriated and hurt when I read something that wasn't researched, especially when it promotes stereotypes. Finding that the author doesn't even know the most common fight terminology, for example, shows the author didn't do their homework. It also makes me think the author isn't really invested in his or her readers or the topic.

Pretty much, my reaction can be summed up here:

As a writer, I want to produce the most real thing I can. Not only that but stereotypes often fall flat, instead of being dimensional.

Research isn't a luxury when you're a writer, it's a requirement. It isn't "going the extra mile" or extra credit.

So, what is another way to turn tropes on their heads and make them fresh?

Remove the stereotypes.

And how can we remove stereotypes?

What are some ways to research? The internet and this glorious thing called Google, and, of course, people (find someone who has first-hand experience!). 

What are other ways you research?

Are there any tropes and/or stereotypes that you feel could be drastically changed with some research?

Post a Comment

  1. Research is invaluable to the writing process. I find that with every book I write, there is usually something I need to know more about to write convincingly.

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  3. Definitely! Invaluable is a great word for it. Thanks for reading!

  4. Great post, L. G.! I love research (which is good because I write historicals that take a lot of research to do well). But I agree that all books need some research. Whether your character has an unusual hobby, job, or lives in a different place than you do, you need to know details. I like to go to the locations, talk to people, and read about cool things that only people from that time or place would know.

    1. Hi! Yes, visiting places is wonderful research. Probably my favorite lol, although not always practical. Talking to people is another great tool- it can give you more than just the facts when you get someone's perceptions tied in. Thanks for reading! Good luck with your research :)

  5. You know what stereotype I'd love to see destroyed? Making overweight characters lazy, secondary, and rarely the object of romantic affection.

    Great post, L! :)

    1. That's a great one, Carrie. And can I add that the character stays that way? I've read a few books recently that hve characters with body image issues-- too thin, too big etc and they get "fixed". That bothers me.

  6. One of my favorite things about writing historical is the research involved. Some topics are really fun to research, like clothes, hats, and films, while others are depressing yet (to me) morbidly fascinating, like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Stereotypes and clichés can work if they're meant as spoof or satire (e.g., a parody of a 1950s U.S. housewife as a comparison to a more independent-thinking character), though when they're not used for any reason beyond laziness and assumptions, it really annoys me too. Stereotypes I can think of include all U.S. Southerners being racist hicks, everyone with an ASD being exactly alike, and religious people (of any faith) being used as comic relief or to mock that way of life.

    1. Those are all great ones. I also see the religious characters often being stereotyped as the "extremist" (like stereotypical evangelism). Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. Awesome post, lady! Adding those layers of realism is such an important part of the writing process, and it's easy to shortchange certain things that might not seem essential to the plot, etc. But sometimes those side characters are THE thing a reader will latch onto in your story, and if it's not 'real', you'll lose them.

    1. Thanks, E. I definitely have put down books when they are unrealistic in certain ways.

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  10. L.G. I've found that when I'm really into my characters--who they are, their story, the setting, etc., I become enchanted by the background research. I love discovering how a setting actually smells, YouTube videos of the college course my POV character attended, reading the textbooks she/he studied, mapping out the route a character walked. I've done this in historical and contemporary settings, real-world and imaginary, and I always enjoy it. For me, if you enjoy what you are writing about, you automatically enjoy the research.


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