It’s a deluge on the West Coast today. There’s no sunny California and it hasn’t snowed in a few weeks here. And contrary to popular belief, I do not ski, snowboard or surf. My hair is not bleached blond. I am not lazy and I am not liberal. Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of these things, but people frequently assume these things about me solely because I live in the Golden State, California. This brings me to my topic today: assumptions.
We assume a lot about people on a daily basis. I am guilty of it as well and quite frankly it can either make for great or really terrible writing. Here are some prime examples of assumptions.
1.) When a homeless person asks for money, they are going to use it to buy booze or drugs.
a. The reality is that we just don’t know what they will do with the money. Now, I’m not saying go hand over your money to a homeless person, but this is an assumption even I make.
2.) A man should put the toilet seat down.
a. Men use the bathroom just as much as women. Why should we assume that the toilet seat should be down (Okay. I know I probably just won over a lot of the men and ticked off the women, but still. It is a valid point)?
3.) Because a book is a classic this validates it as good reading
a. Have you ever tried to read Anna Karenina? My apologies to anyone who loves this book, but I hate it. The author takes several paragraphs to say what he could have said in one sentence. I keep trying to read this book because it is a “classic,” but I just can’t get through it. In my opinion, is terrible reading.
4.) Men think about sex more than women do.
a. Okay. This one might be true in most cases, but probably not in our home. Assume what you will from that statement (wink, wink).
5.) Renters don’t take care of their property.
a. This is outrageously untrue! I have many friends and family who rent and take pride in their homes. I actually think it is a rarer occurrence to have a renter not care about the place they call home and they are the ones who ruin it for everyone else. I also know quite a few homeowners who do not take of their homes.
These, or course, are just a few assumptions, but there are so many others. And the key to using them in your writing is to use them well. Pick a character that is ignorant and always makes assumptions or use assumptions as a way to twist your plot. Get the reader to assume your plot is leading one specific way and then craft your plot twist. Readers love a good twist.
So really, as much as I hate assumptions, I also love them because they are a part of the human experience. Good writing stems from the reality of these human experiences and tells a relatable story using these elements. So, while I recommend not vocalizing your assumptions, put them in your writing instead. It can give your writing the edge of reality it needs. Or is that just an assumption?
Keep on writing fellow freaks!
Stephanie D. Birch loves colloquialisms such as when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. She can cripple you with her super power, writing, in an instant and can leap tall piles of books in a single bound. To learn more about her, visit the About Stephanie page or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org