Putting Away the Sorting Hat

I was walking home from the library the other day and started thinking — what’s a good sorting hat question? The quiz on Pottermore was super inadequate, imltho. I was thinking of questions like “What would you do if there was only one cookie left?” and so on, and your Hogwarts house would depend on your answer. When I tried to come up with answers that would neatly shunt people into the right house, I came up short.

Because, of course, in reality, people are more complex than that. It’s a mistake to define people by one part of their personality, or stereotype them based on race, gender, sexuality, income level, etc. Harry Potter was a little bit of Slytherin and a little bit of Gryffindor. Well, everyone is a Harry Potter. I mean that no one can neatly fit into shortcut characterizations, nor should they be forced to. (Though I still have fun sorting my friends into different Hogwarts houses.)

And I read a Terry Pratchett novel a while ago — I think it was Carpe Jugulum — and in the book, Granny Weatherwax observes that the greatest evil is to treat people like things. I find this can apply to writing, too: Don’t treat people like things. Don’t box them into categories. Don’t think everyone fits one mold.

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