Writing Autistic

Writing Autistic – Avoiding Tropes vs. Stifling Creativity

Can we please get over the mentality that tropes are the devil?

I write a lot of YA and the YA community online is so full of people declaring that you’re never allowed to use certain tropes.

And I talk about tropes a lot on here, (if you’re confused because you don’t feel that I have, it’s probably because I’ve not yet finished moving the archives over from and I try to give alternatives and make it clear that I’m not saying that the trope should never be used ever but sometimes things get lost, so I thought I would do a whole post just about tropes in general.

I’m going to be very upfront in saying that when dealing with any minority group, there will be tropes that are hands-down terrible and should always be avoided (unless you’re subverting them and even then, take a look at the hate John Green gets for writing Manic Pixie Dream Girls before you commit to that path).

With autism, these include cure stories and stories where we’re framed as a tragedy. Also, stories where a lack of empathy results in criminal behaviour (not that these two can’t co-exist, but there’s a difference between co-existence and causation).

Others you don’t have to subvert, you just have to appreciate why people are tired.

For example, I’m mathematically minded and my IQ is in the “superior” range, and my General Ability Index is in the “very superior” range. But I am sick to death of the “autistic genius” trope.

You know why?

Because they’re all cis, straight/ace, middle-class, white dudes.

Give me a confirmed autistic Felicity Smoak or Curtis Holt (this is an Arrow reference, for those who don’t watch) and I will love you forever!

Or hell, give me a cis, straight/ace, middle-class, white dude with a gender-nonconforming special interest!

Just give me something a little different.

More Abed, less Sheldon.

L.C. Mawson is currently trying her best to learn that throwing her book at people while yelling “BOOK MOTHERFUCKER!” isn’t an effective marketing strategy. For the sake of all of the randomers she meets, please check it out here.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss her weekly advice on how to write autistic characters, she also has a weekly newsletter to keep you up to date.

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