Denis LeDoux says, “Don’t De-value Your Characters”

I’ve been talking about character as an aspect of memoir writing in my workshops this fall, so this recent blog post by my colleague Denis LeDoux of The Memoir Network caught my eye. He is the author of Turning Memories Into Memoirs, a compact and useful handbook. With permission, I am sharing his post:

Don’t De-value Your Characters by Using Cliches and Stereotypes

by Denis Ledoux

Don’t devalue your characters by using cliches and stereotypes. This will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in categories. As short-hand ways of writing and speaking, they reflect ready-made thoughts and adversely affect the ways we relate to our families and friends as unique individuals.

  • “She was a mother-hen; You know how mothers are!”
  • “My father had a heart of gold.”
  • “Those were beautiful days when we were happy.”

These examples of cliches and stereotypes reflect ways of thinking that get in the way of seeing people as individuals and events as unique.

Read more of this post

 In 1942, Dick Wingert was hired by the London-based team of the American army magazine, Stars and Stripes. Here, he created the character of Hubert, the stereotype of a simple soldier. My father served with Wingert on the Stars and Stripes, and I am told he was the model for Hubert.

In 1942 cartoonist Dick Wingert created the character of Hubert, the stereotype of a simple soldier, while serving on the London-based team of the Stars and Stripes.
My father served with Wingert on the Stars and Stripes, and I am told he was the model for Hubert.

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About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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