Breaking down stereotypes in fiction

One of the things I love about the young writers’ groups is that it often doesn’t matter what I’ve planned to do, things change to whatever the group is interested in at the time.

This morning, I was at the Young Writers’ Group in Sale. As always, we chat generally for a few minutes while waiting for everyone to arrive. This morning was no different.

The chat usually starts with general catching up, finding out how their month had been, seeing what books they had read or updates on what they have been writing (many participants are working on novels or other writing outside school and the group). This morning, somehow the discussion led to talking about stereotypes and how we can use our stories to break them.

We discussed a number of common stereotypes including the dumb blonde, lazy fat person, and gender and cultural stereotypes, then looked at how they’re incorrect. We then started looking at examples that we see. One of my favourite movies is Legally Blonde as Elle Woods looks like your stereotypically blonde female character, but, as we get to know her, find out that she breaks those stereotypes in so many ways while still being true to herself.

Following the discussion, the writing activity was to choose a stereotype and write a story that busts it. We had a fat person who was an elite athlete, a lumberjack who was in Mensa, a popular girl who was very caring and creative, a pirate who loved the ballet, a very clever baby, and many more. When the stories and story ideas were shared, there was more discussion about stereotypes.

One of the things I love about writing fiction is that I can break down stereotypes, and it’s something I do often. Whether it’s writing a story about princesses who wear superhero capes or a girl with a dragon, breaking down stereotypes is something that can be done with every story and, as people read these stories, they will start to see stereotypes for what they are rather than thinking they are reality.

What stereotypes can you think of that you can break down in your writing, or even other movies and stories that break down those stereotypes?

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About Melissa

Melissa Gijsbers started writing when she was in High School during the 1990s, even winning some awards for a short story and a script. For many years, life got in the way of creative writing, however she did start blogging around 2006.

She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons and a pet blue tongue lizard.

Melissa Gijsbers, Author, Speaker & Booklover
Melissa Gijsbers - Author, Speaker & Booklover
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