The dog sat on top of the mountain and raised his nose to the heavens releasing his soulful cry.

That line or something similar is probably nestled in every book referencing a werewolf or shape-shifter. At initial glance, nothing jumps out as funny, after-all all dogs have descended from the wolf – right?

Well my mountain top is the top of my couch and my dog is a pug. Yes he tilts his round face upwards and howls. He doesn’t have a snout, but he doesn’t let that stop him from pointing his flat face upwards to tell the world his sorrows. I suppose the funny thing is that the bigger dog with the nose cannot howl. She’s learning from the pug, but it’s an odd sound that comes out. I suppose practice makes perfect – right? Yikes!

If someone had told my Alpha pug that he shouldn’t howl until he had a nose, I’m sure that he would have given that person a piece of his mind. Not having a snout, or being short of stature has never stopped my little guy from over achieving.

Does this translate to writing?

Does a stereotype exist for every group? Probably just about. Where does your character belong? Is he or she nestled perfectly within that group? What are the extremes of the stereotype or profile and can the character play those up or down to bring an edge to the feature?

Knowing how to build a character is important to the growth of the story and the character him or herself. Sometimes modeling a character within a stereotype is a good place to start as there are accepted characteristics.

Fables used similar tactics when modeling their stories. The fox was sly, the owl wise etc…

Granted the readers may have accepted a particular stereotype for a type of character, but is there really any reason the character couldn’t break the mould and be what you needed him, her, or it to be?