american-football-63109_1280Just five minutes into watching the evening news it’s very clear our culture still deals with stereotypes and the generalized expectations they establish. Police officers are _____. Black men are _____. Politicians, gay activists, pro-lifers, military, immigrants, and Christians are somehow all expected to behave exactly like someone else in the same random category of labeled humanity. And yet, where is the spectrum of individualism that allows for an elected Democratic official to take an unpopular stand because of her Christian faith?

Without anyone climbing on a soapbox about any particular issue, I’m hoping we can agree that as humans we don’t fit into clearly defined and stifling boxes, especially since we’ve even been known to sometimes act “out of character.”

[Tweet “Busting stereotypes in #CatchOfALifetime via @CandeeFick”]

When I set out to write a novel about a college football program, I didn’t want to create a cast of stereotypical two-dimensional muscle-bound egotistical jocks. So I set out to tackle the issue of stereotypes head on when developing a theme and took inspiration from the verse where God reminds the prophet Samuel that “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

What if a clean-cut suburban white boy was an obnoxious villain-type while a tattooed inner city black boy was a well-mannered hero-type? What if a football coach put character qualities above winning a game and benched a star? What if the “nerdy” biology tutor was formerly a talented world-class gymnast?

True, my characters start off believing others will act a certain way because of their preconceived opinions based on stereotypes. But as the pages add up, they begin to catch glimpses below the surface and encounter the truth that shatters their previous expectations…

We’re each unique individuals with immeasurable value to be discovered … if we’re only willing to look beneath the surface and get to know the person inside the packaging.

What about you? What stereotypes do others try to label you with? How are you breaking that mold? How long does it take you to see below the surface and really get to know someone?

 

Behind The Scenes: Developing a Theme
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