What does it mean to be unassuming, or assuming for that matter? My first thought is to equate assuming to judgmental. A judgmental person will make statements based on what they assume they understand about a situation or person. When correct, these statements can make that person appear intelligent. However, when incorrect the person can come across as calloused and rude, and even a bit stupid. The tragedy is that in most cases a ‘judgmental’ person refuses to believe anything that doesn’t agree with their assumption.
On the same note, a completely unassuming person, or a nonjudgmental person, avoids making statements unless they are sure they are correct. When they don’t understand the truth about a person or situation they ask good questions instead of trying to create a truth from their insufficient knowledge. Not only does this help them avoid looking foolish, it helps them appear more sensitive and interested.
When writing a story we have to make a series of assumptions and hope that they are correct. We assume we understand what makes our characters tick, how the setting works, and what the reader needs to be able to connect to the writing. When we make good assumptions the characters act in a realistic way, the setting makes sense, and the reader is in literary heaven.
When we make bad assumptions, as in using stereotyped characters, overly complicated concepts, and thinking that the reader can see what’s in our heads, the writing fails. Assuming the reader doesn’t understand what we are talking about and compensating by defining and explaining every little detail belittles the reader. Let us strive to dig deeper and understand our characters and stories.
To sum up:
Bad assumption = bad writing.
Please, please, please NO more ditzy blond cheerleaders, or tragically handsome/beautiful love interests, or sparkly vampires. I mean it.