In the last post, I talked a little about political correctness but I think that it deserves far more attention than I gave it. As writers and contributors to the media, we all need to be conscious of what we put out there. Some of this is just plain common sense—and if it isn’t, there is no more excuse for ignorance.
So listen up:
We don’t live in a world where everyone is the same gender, sexuality, age, or race and your fiction shouldn’t take place in one. Make your characters gay and trans and Asian and queer and asexual and Black and polyamorous and demisexual. Make them proud. Make them relatable for people in those groups. Make them alive.
Always Aim for Accuracy
This is a rule for life, really. Do your research. Stay informed. Improper representation is possibly an even bigger sin than lack of representation. There is no glory in the intent of writing a good character. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “Remember, readers are selfish and have no compulsion to be decent about anything.” So, therefore, your characters must be decently written.
Just avoid Stereotypes, please?
Kelsi is a vegan. She’s majoring in art. She has short, pink hair that likely hasn’t been washed in a month. She wears plaid, Chuck Taylors, and a tee shirt with a band on it you’ve probably never heard of. She makes and sells macramé hemp bracelets.
Larry, a field mechanic, and engineer, 45, deacon of his church, is raising his two teenage daughters to be vegan after he and his wife learned the benefits of eating a clean diet.
Or it could be Larry’s husband, it doesn’t matter in this instance. What matters is that there are stereotypes that exist for every group or type of people. Avoid those like you went to high school with them.
In just about every story about the same-sex couple that I’ve read recently, the main character or characters are burdened by their sexuality in one way or another. Now, this is an ongoing issue and yes, it needs to be talked about and documented and woven into art. But it’s been done before. What other issues can the characters face? There are no limitations just because a character identifies a certain way. Don’t let it limit your writing, either.
It’s a common thing among writers, especially new writers, to add diversity to an otherwise un-diverse bunch of people by adding more characters for the sole purpose of adding diversity. The problem with this is the game already has all the players and you’re contracting characters to sit on the bench and watch. Now, what you have here are a bunch of interesting characters that do nothing. At this point, there are a few options you are allowed:
1.) Give your “diverse” character some action.
2.) Cut them out. Reconsider which characters you can change instead. The answer to this is probably all of them.
Got it? Good. Now go write.