Diversity in writing is vital in our society. The US and other countries are full of people with a wide range of skin pigments, hair thickness, eye color, hell the shape of our bodies, faces and teeth are all different. Writing this into a story is challenging because an author wants to be true to the tale and let it carry them. But characterization isn’t just attitude, it is appearance too.
What irks me is when a white writer writes only white characters. Yes, we are told to put ourselves into our work, but if you are Caucasian and only know people who look like you (which is very unlikely) go out and people watch. Listen to different accents. Maybe try broadening your circle. It will benefit you and your writing.
Writing POC characters come naturally when you know people of different heritages. I’ve been lucky in that, I grew up with a wide range of people in my life. Even so I feel that my characters are not diverse enough. maybe it’s because of the PC push for it. It’s drilled into us DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY!
Black writers are more likely to write black characters, Asians are more likely to write Asian characters. To help broaden my range I connect with authors online and try to read as much as I can from all perspectives.
This allows my characters to be more realistic. I have read stories where the main character is supposed to be Indian but he acts about as white bread American as any Caucasian. The author is white and I felt that he didn’t truly research the Indian culture and the character fell flat. I also read a novel with a biracial character but it was a footnote that never seemed to have any effect on the character. If you are biracial or know anyone who is, it is something that is a part of who they are and that has an impact on their life.
Men who write women but make them seem like over-emotional backstabbers also don’t seem to understand the deep connections that most women create or how our biology impacts our outlook and decisions.
It’s part of why I dislike Hemingway but adore Steinbeck, one style is just drunken ramblings from a broken hearted man and the other is a great literary approach to finding truth through fiction.
Truth is what is important to me. Being a writer is a true contradiction because many people see works of fiction as fancy lies. I see them as a tool to help people accept the truth on their own terms.
I hate to bring it up, but speaking of truth and diversity, I have to call out J.K. Rowling and black Hermoine. I would have loved for her to actually be a character of African decent, but Rowling was a white lady who wrote white main characters. Plain and Simple. If she were meant to be a minority from the get-go the issues that any POC deals with on a constant basis would have been addressed in the Harry Potter Series.
This is where we get into Hollywood verses the Publishing industry. Some people are upset that Idris Elba is playing Roland in the Gunslinger. I’m not as attached to The Dark Tower series as hard core Stephen Kind fans so it doesn’t bother me. BUT I do believe it seller POC characters short. Minorities face different issues than white people. That is the painful truth of it. These things must be written into a story meant for them. So if The Gunslinger screenplay is written to really take in the full scope of being a black man in Roland’s shoes then I’m all for it.
Just as writing women into male roles only works if you adjust everything in the scene to make sense. I was put into a male character’s role in a play in middle school and the director changed some of the story and the lines to cater the role for a woman. These changes are vital to the integrity of the story.
You have to go all in with your characters. Don’t just write a minority character because you want to have diversity. MAKE your story diverse by writing REAL characters with a wide range of origins.