Thursday, December 31, 2015

Using Labels With Your Writing

Thinking of labels when you write may not be politically correct, but it is another tool in your characterization quiver. Labels can unite us or divide us to the point of bloodshed.

Is your character pro-life or pro-choice? This is a hot button issue with each side having a different belief system, but either position can add more fervor to your character.

Politically, is your character a democrat or republican, do your characters agree or disagree on social issues? Describing a character’s political persuasion is packed with prejudgment allowing the writer to open up that baggage and craft a character that may defy the stereotype of that political party. Or confirm the reader’s bias.

Labels serve their purpose though. They identify a common set of qualities or characteristic within a group. This is important for sociological studies, if nothing else.

For a broad characterization, is your character a Baby Boomer, Generation X or Millennial?

A Baby Boomer was born between 1946 and 1964; this is the generation born after World War ll with over 77 million babies born in the United States alone. This population spike was responsible for an increase in goods and services that stimulated the post war economy. Most moms were homemakers and dads were breadwinners.

Generation Xer’s were born between 1965 and 1984 (Harvard Center) with the numbers varying among historians, government agencies even advertising agencies. This generation was described as latchkey kids, rudderless, distrusting, a slacker living in his parent’s basement and other disparaging words. Some were entrepreneurs (founders of Google and Amazon). But many were unemployed after college, burdened with crippling student debt and home bound. If they were lucky enough to find a job, many couldn’t afford to pay rent, pay back their student loans, pay for health insurance, etc. and therefore, were unable to move out of the basement.

The current generation is the millennials, born between 1982 and 2004 (Strauss & Howe). This generation was coddled in a climate of “everyone gets a trophy,” no grades, no red ink on their papers, they are “special.” They grew up with technology, social media, online 
bullying and catfishing. They don't value "face time" and are content with checking social media or texting the person next to them.

Which is your character?

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