Saturday, May 8, 2010


By Keith Fisher

I hear a lot about profiling in the news lately. People being singled out because of race or other factors. As I worked in my yard the other day I realized I was profiling.

I meticulously searched through the preferred group, eliminating members of another group. Not only did I single them out I looked upon them with disdain. Toward the end of my experience, I developed a real hatred for any other group, and coddled the preferred one.

I admit, my prejudice runs deep. In the past, I was guilty of genocide, using chemical agents designed for the purpose. Yes it’s a part of my personality to profile that group and there are thousands of people just like me.

I was pulling weeds in my garden.

Its fascinating how certain weeds have the audacity to grow so close to my pea plants, it’s hard to eliminate the weed without pulling the plant too. Have I mentioned I hate weeds? I’ve been known to sacrifice a row of good plants in order to eradicate the infestation of weeds. Like nuclear weapons with people, roundup is a product designed to kill all vegetation. It doesn’t distinguish between good and bad plants.

Okay, enough about my hatred for weeds. I want to talk about another kind of profiling. I think there are too many cliché characters written into stories these days. There is the crime boss who dresses in suits with dark shirts and light ties. I see many spoiled, Nellie Olsen types, who never had a selfless thought. Also, there is the self-absorbed macho-man who believes the world would end if he wasn’t there to protect his lady. Not to mention the air headed woman who needs a man to balance her checkbook.

There are as many variations of the Snidely Whiplash character, as there are Dudley Do-Rights.

Yes, I’m just as guilty as is the next writer. I think it was Mick Jagger who said, every rock and roll song has already been written, and everything new is a variation of the original. Writing is the same way. We look for villains, heroes, and heroines. Sidekicks, authority figures, and supporting cast, but real people aren’t drawn like that.

The people I know, and interact with daily have multifaceted personalities and complicated lives. They aren’t larger than life, like the characters in a movie, but they have thousands of things influencing their nature.

I’m sure I’m preaching to choir here, but just like people profiling won’t extract terrorists from an entire group of people, characters in literature shouldn’t be drawn to conform to a mold. The more real a character becomes in my mind, the better my experience with a book.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

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