On Writing: Lessons From The Breakfast Club

Last night, I took a trip back to high school with the “Brat Pack” to good ole Shermer High. It’s easy to see why The Breakfast Club became a cult classic and iconic portrait of high school in the 80s and beyond.

the Breakfast Club castThe main lesson of the film is one to remember when writing (or creating marketing campaigns). Don’t stick with stereotypes. Sure, it’s easier, and somewhat expected, but it doesn’t allow you to create rich, three-dimensional characters.

In the movie, five high school students from different cliques end up spending their Saturday in detention together. At first, they only take each other at face value and think the others are shallow representations of the stereotypes they represent: the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Basket Case and the Criminal.

After spending an eventful day together discussing their lives and outwitting their “evil” principal, Mr. Vernon, the group realizes that they have more in common than they thought — mainly that they all have issues with their parents. (What teenagers don’t? 🙂 )

But the main theme of the film is stereotypes, and how they don’t fit very well. Sure, Andrew Clark (played by Emilio Estevez) is a talented varsity wrestler, but he also has feelings and isn’t stupid. Plus, he admits toward the end of the film that he feels so much pressure to excel at wrestling and please his “old man” that he sometimes wishes he couldn’t wrestle at all. This theme continues with the other characters.

As Brian’s paper, on behalf of the group, concludes at the end of the film, “You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

and an athlete…

and a basket case…

a princess…

and a criminal…

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Join the Club!

  • Which character did you resonate with the most?
  • Did Allison’s character sell out?
  • What was your favorite moment in The Breakfast Club?
  • What books or authors (or marketing campaigns) move beyond stereotypes?

Rooting for the Brain,
Jaime

p.s. Do you feel like you’re stuck in detention when you try to write? Let CCC help!

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Blink: The Power of Snap Decisions & First Impressions

“On straightforward choices, deliberate analysis is best. When questions of analysis and personal choice start to get complicated — when we have to juggle many different variables — then our unconscious thought processes may be superior.” –Malcolm Gladwell

Do you agree? Or do you think the opposite is true?

This quote is pulled from Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, a book that takes you deep into the unconscious and explores the power of thinking without thinking (i.e. thin-slicing, snap decisions and first impressions). It’s amazing how powerful (and correct) our snap judgments can be although it is easy for them to become flawed by a number of factors. As Gladwell notes, “From experience, we gain a powerful gift, the ability to act instinctively, in the moment. But… it is easy to disrupt this gift.”

blink_malcolmgladwell

Discover example after example of people using thin-slicing to make impressive quick decisions in the face of pressure, and learn how we can practice these abilities to improve them, just like anything else.

What’s remarkable to me is the wide range of people, places and events represented in this book — inner city detectives, Civil War generals, marriage counselors, musicians who defy genre. I love psychology and learning about the powers of the mind, but even if you don’t, this book can help you in your life and career by helping you make better decisions.

At the end of this intriguing read, Gladwell leaves us with this final thought.

“This is the real lesson of Blink: It is not enough simply to explore the hidden recesses of our unconscious. Once we know about how the mind works — and about the strengths and weaknesses of human judgment — it is our responsibility to act.”

Have you read this book? What did you think?

What other books would you highly recommend?

Blink cover courtesy of Gladwell.com

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

Don’t blink! Join the conversation…
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