considering characters (the discussion)

Q. What sorts of stereotypes did you use?
A. Two wooden penguins, a spider plant, a crumpled up tissue 20% full of snot and a coaster made of bamboo. Oh, wait a minute – I misunderstood – the stereotype you refer to is a chocolate bar. Specifically M&S Swiss Chocolate (Extra Fine Milk).

Q. What sorts of methods did you and other writers use to make the character go against expectations?
A. Well here’s the thing – most chocolate bars are just there for the eating or, if you’re feeling that way on, melting down and trickling slowly over certain parts of the anatomy and … ahem … anyway this chocolate bar decided that it wanted to be a hard drive in a laptop. This goes against expectations in two ways: (a) you wouldn’t think that chocolate is a good storage medium and (2) (yes – I know) chocolate bars don’t usually decide things.

Q. Do you, and other writers, think all of these methods were successful or did some characters remain typical?
A. I think that this chocolate bar truly broke the mould (see what I did there?) and so did not remain at all typical.

Q. What were the most and least successful methods?
A. Oh, I have to say that my method was the most successful by far, not because it’s mine and I am an ego-ridden fool but because I can’t think of any conventional attempt to go beyond stereotypes that doesn’t just produce another one. Certainly all of the examples given by this course are of that ilk. Literature seems to be forever pushing at the boundaries of what is ‘normal’ and my chocolate bar continues that trend. If you remain sceptical, try this – name one story about a piece of confectionary that wants to be part of a computer. If you find one – I’ll eat my chocolate bar!

Q. Which stereotypes were used most commonly as starting points?
A. Oh I don’t know – there were 349 posts on this part of the forum when I last looked – with the best will in the world no-one is going to be able to read them all and then spend an afternoon doing a comparative study. Sheesh!

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