The Bad Book Project #2 | Writing Diverse Characters (by Hannah)

This is the second post in a series called The Bad Book Project in which I (Lia) attempt to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. The first post in this series is here. I now give the word to Hannah!

Hey!  My Name is Hannah, and I have a blog called The Book Thief Without Words. I’m 17 years old, live in Canada and love everything fictional. I have been writing actively for about six years, but I’ve always loved to come up stories. As of yet, I’ve written two novels and countless short stories. Currently I’m working on two projects: Dried Roses and Petra Pan. Dried Roses is about Rosanna: a psychologist and Leila: a teacher. Leila seeks the help of Rosanna without realizing that they knew each other as kids and that Rosanna has a big part in her troubled past. They eventually become friends, and then gradually fall in love. My other project Petra Pan is a genderbent peter pan retelling about Petra Pan a muslim bisexual who falls in love with Wendy Darling’s descendant:Darla who’s a bi-racial lesbian.

For the past three years or so, I’ve become more conscious about the characters I write. As you can see, I try to incorporate diverse characters into everything I write.It’s really important to me, and I think that all books need diverse elements. This post will be explaining a little about diverse characters, and how to write them.

The #weneeddiversebooks movement has become a booming one ever since it began in 2014. Diversity is so important whether it be in the form of race,sexuality,religion or mental illnesses. Our world is a very diverse one, and it’s unrealistic and harmful to have books that feature white,straight,neuro-typical characters all the time. It doesn’t matter what type of story you’re writing,if you’re writing about humans there needs to be diversity. I know that if you’re not part of the minority that you’re writing about, you may be scared that you’ll offend people, but if you research properly and talk to people of that minority and  get an authentic feel of the character you’re writing about, it isn’t very hard. Diversity shouldn’t be a quota that you have to fill,it should come naturally.Don’t just write the gay best friend, or the sassy black woman because that’s really harmful and stereotypical. Marginalized groups can have the same type of stories that non-marginalized do and shouldn’t be reduced to a stereotype.

Tips on writing diverse characters

1.Don’t write stories that aren’t yours to tell.

While writing diverse characters is very important, it’s also important you don’t speak over the marginalized. So while you can write a book about say an african american, you can’t write a book that talks about say police brutality in the perspective of that character. You’re not black, you don’t need how it feels to live through that, and you’re speaking over others. There are millions of stories that you can tell, so leave the struggles and difficulties to those who have experienced it.Obviously I can’t stop you from writing those stories, but think about it before you do.

2. Do Research.

It is soo soo important to do research. You want your book to be authentic, so research is inevitable. Research can be reading books with similar representation,asking about people’s experiences or just looking up stuff online. Research is especially important when you’re writing about mental illness.It’s really important that you don’t stereotype or generalize because such  representation is kind of worthless.

3. Don’t let your genre limit you.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that diversity is limited to the real world. There is no excuse for not having diversity in your fantasy or sci-fi. If there’s dragons, and robots I think you can include some diversity. Diversity should encompass all genres, and not just be related to the real world.

4.Include all types of diversity.

Don’t just have  one lesbian or one black character. It’s really unrealistic and feels as though you’re filling a quota. Write stories about people who don’t get representation. If you’re part of a minority that doesn’t have a lot of representation, write the story you want to read. I’m a biromantic asexual, but there’s no rep for me so I wrote my own story.

So that’s it. Please don’t be afraid to write diverse books. Trust me it’s not hard, and honestly makes the story 100x more authentic and enjoyable.  Good luck and I hope you have fun creating diverse characters!

I would like to thank Hannah for writing this excellent post! It is really helpful and I am now going to try to incorporate all her tips in my characters 🙂 Next week’s post will be from Trisha from Autumn of 2003 and it will be about writing a strong secondary cast!

12 thoughts on “The Bad Book Project #2 | Writing Diverse Characters (by Hannah)

  1. I love this, we need to think more conscientiously about writing diverse characters and writing them authentically. It is something to keep in mind all the time, because in our world there is no one body type, mental state, race, sexuality, or religion that is the same. Diverse books are desperately needed. Everyone deserves to have their story told.

    Liked by 2 people

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