I like to do this every once in a while since it’s so easy to be writing along and suddenly realize your characters have drifted into stereotypes. You can have a great plot, lots of events, super dialogue, and urgent tension, but if your bartender is the Sam Spade, your female character is Jane Eyre, and your hero-to-the-rescue is Gandolf the White, then it’s time to rethink. They’re all great characters, but we’re all here to create new ones, not use the old ones.
So here is a standard plot with fairly stock characters. Your job is to shake things up and turn these stereotypes inside out.
Female lead: Wavy black hair, crystal blue eyes, a mouth that’s just a little too wide, high cheekbones. She’s a cop who looks good even in those ugly pants and tucked in shirts. College degree in psychology.
Male lead: He’s in construction, with the requisite wide shoulders and slim hips. Wears flannel shirts, levis, and work boots. Sandy hair just a little too long. Deep set brown eyes. He listens more than he talks.
The plot so far: He stops for a beer at the Whaler Tavern, located near the shore in a small tourist town in New Jersey. A man comes in waving a gun and shoots at the ceiling, then tells everyone to toss their wallets his way. Female cop walks by the open door and sees the situation.
You can add details, but you have to keep the ones I’ve listed above. Your goal? No clichés! No stereotypes! No stock outcomes! Surprise us!