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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Stereotypes (Version 3)

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Patricia Johnson , as "True to type?"
Posted on: 17 Jun 2001
Reposted on: 7 Jul 2002
Reposted on: 22 Jun 2003
Reposted on: 24 Apr 2005
Reposted, Revised on: 30 Jul 2006
Reposted on 24 Feb 2008
Reposted on 26 Jul 2015

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character sees another as a
stereotype. Make that character realize the error when the true nature of the person
judged unfolds. 

-------------------------

People naturally categorize people, places, things and events in their minds. This
helps us organize, remember, and make use of our experience. We all develop rules
to help us react rapidly when we need to. A flashing red light means danger; we
know that, so we can react instantly, almost without thought.

But applying labels to people and expecting certain behaviors without considering
their individual characteristics can produce tragedy or injustice. Stereotyping can
affect our level of trust in a person. Many stereotypes are negative; they can lead to
assumptions and misconceptions that are unfair or simply inaccurate. This kind of
mistake often happens when people are judged on the basis of race, sex, religion, or
some other characteristic shared by a large group, rather than on their own
behavior.

A good example of a stereotype is Boo Radley in the novel *To Kill a Mockingbird*.
Scout and her brother have built up a particular idea of him from his appearance
and gossip they have heard. His true nature is revealed when he rescues Scout and
becomes a family friend and quiet hero. Incidents in which timid women turn out to
be brave, or braggarts fail to make good on their promises, are common in literature.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character sees another as a
stereotype. Make that character realize the error when the true nature of the person
judged unfolds. 

-------------------------

In your critiques, note the effectiveness of the stereotype developed, and comment on
the writer's success in showing the required reversal. Consider, as always, the setting
and the quality of the writing.


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.