I’m a twin, and I’ve been angry about twin stereotypes for years now.
The most prominent ones being: the exactly alike twins, the exactly opposite twins, the creepy twins, or some combination thereof. Like, I nearly vomit whenever I read the line, ‘X and Y were twins, but they couldn’t be more different,’ because that is just lazy writing. It is. How much more lazy can you get than to create a character and then just make another one the exact opposite?
Answer: You can make them exactly alike. This one I hate more, because seriously, in real life, how likely is it that twins will be completely identical, not just in appearance, but in personalities and attitudes and intelligence? I will cut slack for twins raised apart, because that can happen and that’s been proven, but seriously? If you have two characters be exactly the same, you might as well have one character, and try to flesh them out a little more.
Let me explain something about twins: if we’re really close, we tend to adapt to fill in each other’s weaknesses. For instance, my sister and I had an interesting pattern for making friends; my sister, an incredibly outgoing social butterfly, would meet people and make them part of our group. Then, it was my job to keep us staying friends with them, by doing things like making sleepovers, remembering people had feelings, and remembering birthdays.
However, while this obviously distinguishes between twins and makes it clear they’re unlikely to be exactly alike, it also doesn’t mean they’re exact opposites. For instance, my twin and I are both not good at communicating over the phone; we both tend to be bad at planning our time effectively.
The important thing with writing twins is to remember that there is an intricate pattern of alike and not alike, determined both by upbringing and personality. It’s complex, like any relationship, and it should be treated with the same care as any relationship in a story.
On the topic of creepy twins, just know that me and most twins like me will gladly leave a scathing review on any story with poorly explained twin incest. Just, ew, man. Ew.