PubCrawl Podcast: Archetypes, Stereotypes, & Cliches

This week, Kelly and JJ give a little overview about archetypes, stereotypes, and cliches to kick off their Summer of Archetypes. What is the difference between all of these things? Also, they answer a few questions and give (probably unsolicited) advice on how to become more civically engaged in the US political process.

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Show Notes

  • Archetypes vs. stereotypes: what is the difference? Functionally, they are both the same, but the difference lies in execution. Archetypes and stereotypes are both elemental ideas, but archetypes encompass an entirety while stereotypes are reductive.
    • Stereotypes are reductive of an entire group, e.g. the Token Female character in an all-male cast is often stereotypical because she has to be emblematic of all women, thereby is unable to accurately or truthfully or complexly portray one human being
    • Stereotypes are narrow, but archetypes are broad
  • Cliche vs. tropes: what is the difference? Cliches are tropes that have become so overused that they become shorthand for actual development or depth. A commonplace but well-executed trope may be called cliche, but if executed well and given complexity, are still effective, e.g. Star Wars and The Force Awakens.
  • Our previous podcasts about adaptations:

Questions

When do you deliberately decide to invert a trope, how do you tackle that? Where do you start?
—Katherine Locke

Note: We think the inversion of a trope is a trope in itself! 🙂 But more to the question, the first thing you should examine is why you want to invert a trope. What do you want to say about the trope you’re inverting? Otherwise it would be inverting something for inverting’s sake, rather than a thoughtful deconstruction. How do you tackle inverting a trope/where do you start? It goes back to our previous answer about considering what you want to say or explore about said trope. Thinking about why it existed in the first place. That’s where you start flipping it on its head.

What are your thoughts on retellings? How far should writers veer from canon?
—Saba Suleiman

If you write a retelling, you should bring something unique to the table. You can adhere to or veer as far from canon as you want, although at some point a story stops being a retelling and becomes something “inspired by” something else. A retelling adheres to the original beats of the story, but all other aspects of the original are up for grabs.

When offered representation, is it common to do a phone interview? What should the author ask the agent?
—Nancy

This is very common and in fact is general standard these days (most often just referred to as The Call). Some questions to ask:

  1. What did the agent like about your work? What is their vision for it? Where do they think your career/story go?
  2. Ask about the agent’s communication style (frequently, as needed, etc.)
  3. Are they editorial? What is their commission?

Beth Phelan of the Bent Agency wrote up a great thread about being someone’s “dream agent“; you want someone who is professional and someone who understands you. The Call is essentially a phone interview to feel out future business relationships. Sometimes someone might be great for you on paper, but then you find out the “chemistry” is off during the phone call. Think to yourself: is this someone with whom I want to be in regular contact if I just don’t get along with them?

I’m currently working on a fantasy novel with an internal antagonist. Do you know of any books that do this well?
—Megan

We are assuming that “internal antagonist” means a book without an external villain like Voldemort. Well…JJ has a book without a villain. 🙂 All books should have internal conflict regardless of whether or not they have external conflict; personal stakes in the outcome of a story are what make readers care, not necessarily what happens.

I am a commercial producer and I see book trailers becoming popular with publishers. How can I get into that side of the business?
—Emily

Unfortunately we’re not going to be of much help here. To be honest, we think there is actually a decline in popularity for book trailers, at least on the publishing side of things. Authors still commission book trailers, so if you are looking to do this sort of work, marketing yourself directly to authors is probably the better way to go. Alas, getting a full-time job at a publishing house producing this sort of content is unlikely. Trailers—if they get made at all in-house—are generally made by someone on the digital team or the marketing or art departments. Many marketers in publishing come with some video editing and web design skills themselves, so the publisher is likely to just ask someone with the skillset who is already in-house to make a trailer, rather than hire out.

When writing a query and sending pages, what is the recommended formatting? Query single-spaced, pages double? All double-spaced?

If in a Word document, double-spaced. In the body of an email, single space is fine, but double line return between paragraphs. As long as it is readable.

Do publishing houses retain graphic designers? If so, where do we find jobs?

Yes, they are part of the art department, the production department, or the creative services department. Look for jobs on dedicated publishing related websites: Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly, Mediabistro, etc. (Caveat: most of these will be New York-based, not freelance.)

How do you tell where the line is when using another culture for diversity’s sake/the cool factor without cultural appropriation?

If this is a question you’re asking, then we would say you’re not ready to be writing diversity. Diversity is not a trend, nor is it “cool.” Interrogate why you’re using another culture in your work. If it’s because you find it interesting and it leads you to do research and the appropriate work associated with it, then sure. But also, interrogate whether or not you are asking for permission to write “outside your lane.” If you are, then don’t. You either have the guts to write it or you don’t.

Books Discussed/What We’re Reading

What We’re Working On

  • Kelly attended the Chicago Writer’s Workshop this past weekend
  • JJ is working on book 2, a secret project, and is going to the gym regularly.

Off Menu Recommendations

That’s all for this week! Next week we will be doing our THIRD QUERY CRITIQUE PODCAST! As always if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, send us an ask on Tumblr, or tweet using the hashtag #askpubcrawl!

One Response to PubCrawl Podcast: Archetypes, Stereotypes, & Cliches

  1. Beverly Patt Jul 10 2017 at 11:41 am #

    This was SOOOO helpful to me! As a writer, I have always shied away from describing my work using archetypal terms and tropes, thinking it would make my work sound trite and Just Like Everybody’s Else’s. Thanks to this discussion, I have realized the importance of the archetypes and tropes as structural building blocks with which to help my listener have a good grasp of my basic story. Thank you, ladies!!!

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