Thursday, 19 March 2015


What's a stereotype? Are you stereotypical? Is it a derogatory term or a useful one?

I don't think I am easy to stereotype but I was chatting to a man once who nudged me into a stereotypical position by asking me if I was going shopping. I am female and in some quarters people believe that women enjoy recreational shopping. I don't.
Scottish and Yorkshire stereotypes include frugal and dour sorts. Aren't black people supposed to be good at sports and singing? And accountants of any origin are likely to be boring.
While I don't dismiss stereotypes I think it's useful to consider how a character is portrayed. It might not work to have a nursery nurse with an abrupt manner, a dark side and no patience but you might be able to create a vicar who is free of the tea and cake, church fetes and overt politeness without her losing her integrity.

I've identified a group of people who are often stereotyped. Try identifying those attitudes and characteristics that are used to typify them and then create a character who doesn't fit the template.
When adjusting the stereotype don't head for the polar opposite. Look for subtle characteristics somewhere between opposite ends of a spectrum.

Have a go.

School teacher.


Social worker.


Plastic surgeon.



Dinner lady.


Office worker.

You might find that you are liberated by tweaking stereotypical expectations or you might come to the conclusion that they exist for a reason. It depends on what type you are.