PSA: On Writing the Other

There’s been a lot of discussion about diversity in reading and writing, both in traditional media and social media. I know that one of the problems for writers can be that hesitation to include diverse characters for fear of getting them wrong and ending up doing more harm than good. So I wanted to give a quick signal boost to an online course coming up on Writing the Other, taught by K. Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl. It’s going to be a small class in terms of size, but I suspect it will be offered again if it’s successful. If this is something you’re concerned about, either generally or for a particular project, you might want to check it out.

6 thoughts on “PSA: On Writing the Other

    1. It’s being held online, so location shouldn’t be an issue. Is it a time zone problem? I suspect if enough people are interested, they might try doing a future class at a different time of day. I’ll keep an eye out…

  1. I was surprised by a comment from another author when describing one of my projects. In it, there are characters of different ethnic mixes and backgrounds from our great southwest melting pot falling in love. They said: “Oh, it’s a mixed race sub- genre.” The idea had never occurred to me. Was it a mixed race story? Well, yes, there were some elements. But the main story was romance that just happened to be set where the population is diverse and for the most part celebrates and embraces varied cultures, where races have been mixed over generations. The question is will my project by shuttled off to sub category because there are mixed races falling in love?

    This is where the diversity rubber hits the road. Stories of mixed race, or that have minority characters portrayed as the author experiences them shouldn’t be categorized as sub-genres. I hope we’re getting away from that. I also believe it is up to the author to do her homework. If you’re portraying a specific ethnicity in a character, make sure that character fits the context of the story, rather than fills some convenient, stereotyped image.

    So far, no one who has read it has commented on the racial elements. But so far, those who have read it have been “from around here.” It will be interesting to see how it is seen by those in other parts of the country.

    1. I really wouldn’t consider that a sub-genre. I suppose some readers might still think that way, but in terms of the industry, diverse characters within a book are becoming more common. There are sub-genres within romance where all the characters in the book are non-white (Latin romances, African American romances, etc.), but that’s a different thing entirely. Personally, I hope we can get to the point where the cast of a book just resembles the real world and no one blinks twice.

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