Include Diversity in Your Characters

Using Your Author Platform for Change
Contributed by Margot Conor


Authors have a powerful platform to challenge established role models and inequities in society through their writing. By using their platform to provoke thought, inspire change, and amplify marginalized voices, authors can contribute to a more equitable and inclusive literary landscape. Here are several ways they can do so:

1.    Representation and Diversity: By representing a diverse range of characters in their writing. By portraying characters from marginalized communities in prominent and empowered roles, authors can challenge stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

2.    Subverting Tropes: By subverting traditional tropes and expectations in their writing. For example, they can create complex and multidimensional characters who defy gender norms, challenge societal expectations, and break free from stereotypes.

3.    Exploring Power Dynamics: Challenge inequities by exploring power dynamics and privilege in their writing. Through nuanced portrayals of characters from different backgrounds and social classes, authors can highlight the ways in which systemic inequalities shape individual experiences and opportunities.

4.    Addressing Social Issues: Challenging established role models by addressing social issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and economic inequality in their writing. By shining a light on these issues and examining their impact on characters and communities, authors can provoke thought and inspire change.

5.    Empowering Marginalized Voices: Authors can challenge inequities by amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in their writing. By centering stories around characters from underrepresented backgrounds and giving them agency and autonomy, authors can empower readers to see the world from different perspectives and challenge their own biases.

6.    Promoting Empathy and Understanding: Authors can promote sympathy and understanding in their writing by portraying characters with empathy and compassion, authors can encourage readers to see the humanity in others and recognize the ways in which their own actions and attitudes contribute to inequality.

7.    Offering Alternatives: Authors can offer alternative visions of society and culture in their writing. By imagining worlds where traditional hierarchies are dismantled, and individuals are free to be their authentic selves, authors can inspire readers to envision a more equitable and inclusive future.

Avoiding Cultural Appropriation

Navigating the line between ethnically inclusive writing and cultural appropriation can be complex, especially for authors who are white. However, there are several ways they can strive to be inclusive without appropriating cultures:

1.    Research and Sensitivity Reading: Authors should conduct thorough research into the cultures they wish to represent in their writing. This includes reading books written by authors from those cultures, consulting cultural experts, and seeking feedback from sensitivity readers who can provide insights and ensure accurate representation.

2.    Avoid Stereotypes and Misrepresentations: Authors should be mindful of avoiding stereotypes and misrepresentations when depicting characters and cultures. Instead, they should strive to create nuanced and multidimensional characters who reflect the diversity and complexity of real people.

3.    Show Respect and Humility: Authors should approach the task of writing about cultures outside their own with respect, humility, and a willingness to listen and learn. They should be open to feedback and willing to make changes to their writing based on the insights of cultural experts and sensitivity readers.

4.    Focus on Universal Themes: While it's important to acknowledge and celebrate cultural differences, authors should also focus on universal themes and experiences that resonate with readers from all backgrounds. By highlighting the common humanity that binds us all, authors can create stories that are inclusive and accessible to a wide audience.

5.    Collaborate with Diverse Voices: Authors can collaborate with authors and creators from diverse backgrounds to ensure authentic representation and avoid cultural appropriation. This can include co-writing projects, consulting with cultural advisors, and seeking input from members of the communities being represented.

6.    Acknowledge Privilege and Power Dynamics: Authors who are white should be mindful of their privilege and the power dynamics at play when writing about cultures outside their own. They should approach the task with humility and a willingness to interrogate their own biases and assumptions.

7.    Promote Own Voices Literature: Authors can support and promote literature written by authors from the cultures they wish to represent. By amplifying diverse voices and ensuring that marginalized authors have opportunities to tell their own stories, authors can contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
Learn more about Margot at https://margotconor.com/


 

 


2 comments:

Terry Whalin said...

Margot,

Interesting ideas about how to bring diversity into our characters and writing. For my own writing life, I've written numerous African-American biographies and co-authored books. It's been the way I've contributed to the cultural understanding through my nonfiction books.

Terry
author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow the Link for a FREE copy]

Karen Cioffi said...

Margot, helpful article for writers on diversity. Working with clients from many different backgrounds and working for clients who want to write children books dealing with diversity, I too contribute to understanding cultural differences.

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