On writing diverse characters…baby steps

This Tweet (and my response, which was that I figure it’s time to add more queer and BIPOC secondary characters when I see complaints) pretty much sums up my attitude. I may be an old cishet white woman, but by god, the worlds I create do not need to look fishbelly-pale. Or het. Of course, that also means I have to work around other issues, such as watching out that I don’t fall into stereotypes…which is hard. Damned hard. And often requires self-examination and a lot of learning. But I’m willing to make mistakes and learn from them because, again, I want to write worlds that look and feel real, even when writing about the rich and privileged (which pretty much sums up the Martinieres).

Honestly, this post has been a hard one to write. I think this is the third? fourth? attempt, because I keep pulling back. Wondering if I should do this. Imagining what the attacks could be from either side of the aisle.

But damnit, at some point I have to say it.

I don’t want to write fishbelly-pale worlds. I don’t want to write all straight worlds. But. I am cishet, white, old, and female. Even with sensitivity readers, I struggle with the concept of speaking for others. Hey, for me, it was tough enough to switch into the male characters of Michael Martiniere and Gabriel Martiniere. I don’t normally write primary male characters, but in this situation I saw the need to do so for both The Heritage of Michael Martiniere and Broken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere.

For me, that solution has come through peopling my worlds (except in my fantasy, where by golly, it’s all different and I ain’t writing Europeans) with a widely diverse secondary cast.

But however you want to put it, I do my best to keep those worlds from looking straight and fishbelly-pale.

I don’t want praise for that. I don’t need praise for that. Frankly, I think this approach should be the norm.

I’m still working on improving how I write diverse characters, but you know what? Just because my depictions aren’t perfect doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying (and tripping over new obstacles).

It’s all a growth process. And the more I learn about what a diverse world looks like, the more I like it.

So I’m a work in progress. I’m not what I was years ago, and that’s a good thing.




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