Diversity: A Worrisome Tightrope Act

I want diverse characters. No point faffing about. Diversity is more than important, it is a fundamental part of writing and affects, even in small ways, the way people view themselves within actual society. Media and literary presentation of POC, members of the LGBTQ community, disability, and even gender is incredibly impactful both in terms of a wider portrayal of these societal areas, and with regard to the way individuals see themselves.

I want diverse characters.

But Christ almighty it is scary writing them.

As a white, able bodied, heteronormative woman I feel like I’m walking a terrifying tightrope. On one side we have a total lack of diversity, a group of white, able bodied, straight people. On the other we have a caricature of different races, religions, abilities and sexualities, and somewhere in the middle is the slim rope and below it the narrow net of successful, diverse writing.

Having absolutely zero to draw from in terms of my own experience, what do I rely on? Yes I can ask friends, but taking their experiences and forming them into fiction only works so far, at some point, surely, I need to be producing my own realistic and individual characters.

Now I know what you’re thinking, how hard can it be? After all regardless of race, sexuality or ability these people are people. You’re right. They are. Which means their lives aren’t candy floss and rainbows. These are people, not just with thoughts and opinions and ideas that transcend labels and social groups, but with pains and struggles and circumstances I can’t ever hope to truly grasp. These are people who deserve a realistic and informed portrayal of their lives, of the issues facing their communities and the way their experiences as people shape them. And unfortunately for me I am very uninformed, and I’m not entirely sure how best to remedy that.

Until I figure it out I guess I’ll just have to muddle through, and hope that my extremely patient friends will correct me when I go wrong.

How do you include diversity in your writing?

Yours

E. Bonner

 

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