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!

12 thoughts on “considering characters (the discussion)

  1. Reading the story behind how the chocolate bar story came to be was as entertaining as the actual story! I’m glad you told this story, the hopes and dreams of chocolate bars deserve to be told, and who are we to chomp down on them?
    Your comment about how trying to go beyond a stereotype simply produces another really hit home. Looking at my attempt, I realise I have done just that! Oh dear…, is it too late to write about a lollipop that wants to be a stop sign?
    Keep up the brilliant work!


    • The real story behind all of this is that when I sat down to write the piece, I gave myself 15 minutes to do it, but I had nothing in my head at all – no intentions, plans or ideas whatsoever.
      So the first thing I did was look at the things on the table I was working at: the chocolate bar, the laptop, the two wooden penguins, the spider plant, the crumpled up tissue and the coaster made of bamboo. There were other things on the table, but that was enough to get me going.
      What followed was just a stream of consciousness. Put simply – I just typed up as many thoughts as I could catch as I looked around the table. Truly chocolate bars do remind me of laptop hard drives – the shape/size is very similar.
      I’m currently reading a book called The Field by Lynne McTaggart that postulates that information is stored in water by means of quantum wave functions and hence anything watery (cells, living beings, humans and chocolate bars) has just as much potential to store information. Consequently I already had the information for the thought that chocolate bars could double as storage devices. Indeed, I would guess that data is already stored in chocolate (radiant sunshine, sweet breezes, idyllic fields) on some quantum level, and we already access it on a sub-conscious level in terms of the enjoyment we derive from eating it.
      I could go on through the whole piece and explain step-by-step, but I think you get the gist.
      Basically what you have is a snapshot of how my mind works. Part of me is glad that it’s entertaining, but to me – it’s simply life! #smile


    • I finished it this morning and I’m on to something even more hardcore – The Way by Michael Berg. It’s about ‘using the wisdom of Kabbalah for spiritual transformation and fulfilment’. Still on the introduction, but it looks promising.


  2. Post on FutureLearn Forum 13 Jan 2016 from Anne Palmer
    Just read your Dark Howl — what creative imagery; how creepy the man. I think the panthers of the world should protest being linked with this predator. 🙂 But I like your using “panther” as a walking verb. Last piercing paragraph — I think he killed her (but am not sure because she “coughed blood through coffee” — or maybe she “coughed blood” in the newspaper article while the article’s reader drank coffee). Excellent creative imagery.


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