Common fears and frustrations around writing diverse characters

Happy Monday, writers!

We might no longer be doing the Doing Diversity in Writing podcast, but that doesn’t make the episodes we produced any less relevant. If you haven’t listened to the three seasons we put out yet, here’s your chance.

The full show notes and list of resources mentioned in the episode I’m sharing today can be found below.

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we discuss some of the fears and frustrations that might come up when writing diverse characters.

Here are some of the common fears and frustrations that came up:

  • Representing someone in the wrong way…
  • …and why that shouldn’t keep us from trying
  • Taking someone else’s voice away by trying to speak for them…
  • …and where we stand in the Own Voices vs. Allies debate
  • Misrepresenting your own community…
  • and why this calls for a multiplicity of voices from each and every community

Quotes from this week’s episode

“Not all differences are considered equal. Depending on where we are as a society, and which society you’re writing about, some identity markers might carry more charge than others. Which is why some misrepresentations cause more outrage than others, and why we might be more scared of representing this character the wrong way than that character.”

“What we would love to see happen all around us is that people, instead of stepping away from the challenge because something is at stake, lean into the challenge and start taking those steps.”

“There are loads of things that are hard to get right as an author. The feel of a place, of an era, dialogue, how characters interact, character and story arcs that come full circle. Writing diverse characters is just one of those aspects. You don’t stop describing a place or cut out all your dialogue because it’s hard getting it right or needs more research.”

“Why put all of that labour on those diverse authors when we can actively contribute to creating a more diverse reading experience? Why can we not both create space for diverse authors and their voices WHILE we ourselves are working as hard to turn this world into a better place?”

(Re)sources mentioned on the show

You can find this week’s bonus material, The Calm the F*ck Down Checklist, in our Diversity in Writing Toolkit, which you can download here.

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