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Monday, October 4, 2010

Character Stereotypes: The Do-Gooder

Do-gooders, also called Goody Two-Shoes, are the people who make everyone else look bad. They turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, raise the bar, and set the standard high.

But Why? What motivates them? What's the payoff?

Aside from the general, run-of-the-mill do-gooders who are generous because it’s in their nature, there are three sub-stereotypes do-gooders. Let’s examine each type by delving further into what motivates each and how writers can crossbreed them to spice things up.

1) Doormat

Motivation: to please people

Common Specimen: the already overworked congregation member who just can’t say no when the Educational Minister is short a Sunday school teacher.

Description: Doormats are the most common form of do-gooders in Christian fiction. They generally have low self-esteem and believe that by doing what everyone asks of them, they will up their estimation in the eyes of others. Perhaps they grew up with the idea that if they could just be who people wanted them to be—instead of who they really are—they would find love and acceptance.

How to Crossbreed: Changing the doormat’s payoff will be the best way to alter this stereotype, because you can’t change the people-pleasing motivation and keep the person a doormat. For example, a doormat do-gooder could simply be covering as a doormat for a self-serving reason, like wanting to ingratiate themselves into a small town for political aspirations or real estate reasons.

Click here to read the rest of my article in this month's Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

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