Some men give their wives jewelry. Others proffer chocolates, or flowers. My husband? Gives me blog posts when he sees that I am tired, overwhelmed, and stretched to the snapping point. I started a post on covers, but after serving as referee in a three-sided sibling war (now, there’s the plot for a space dynasty saga) I was exhausted and listless. He surprised me with a post, and that means I get back a lost hour of sleep. So I’ll get the cover post done for next Saturday and you get a Reader writing on reading today.
We all make assumptions about life “This is the way things are done”. The problem with that, especially for writers, is that our assumptions are sometimes wrong. For example, I recently read a story where a brother was offering his sister a morning glass of juice, which she refused because she hadn’t brushed her teeth yet. For most of us that is a jarring misdirection. We are taught in the U.S. to brush after meals, not before.
There are many other things we take for granted that aren’t necessarily so. Many younger people assume that any girl can beat most boys physically because so much of our media tells them so. Even older adults often buy into that nonsense to a degree, those who see a FaceBook video with a young woman beating up the bikers molesting her is a prime example, many older men didn’t realize that it was an obviously scripted event that was physically impossible as shown.
Even in our personal lives we learn things that just aren’t true, not for the majority. I used to think that all our social instructions through books and movies were deliberate misdirection. Our social norms say that men propose and women accept or reject. Every romantic movie seems to have a guy nervously proffering a ring and waiting with baited breath for the girl to say “Yes”. I knew that was false until I was in my mid thirties when I found out that it was probably true for the majority of people. I honestly though all men got proposed to three of four times a year on average, which fiction told us wasn’t true. Then I found out that it was true for most guys.
Since we know that some of our assumptions are wrong it behooves us to keep this in mind when writing. If your hero thinks that he is weird because he is straight you’d better have a good bit of worldbuilding going on and be writing fantasy or deranged SF. Normal humans realize that homosexuals comprise a very small percentage of the population, not the majority.
Similarly any other minority position in the real world cannot comprise the main thrust of your story without some given reason for believing it. A story with no men in it at all could happen, if you place it in a convent or other limited slice of life that doesn’t contain the majority of the world. If your character doesn’t interact with the people of the opposite sex, or differing orientation that is fine. Having them not exist takes a lot of back story.
Since we have to make assumptions to live go ahead and make them, just be aware that everyone may not share your particular assumptions and it may throw them out of the story. This is where writers need beta readers, to point out such oddities. And it is why the rest of us should be open to changing our minds if we find out our assumptions are wrong.