Writing Diverse Characters

Recently, a fellow writer asked me how to write diverse characters. Here are some suggestions.

  • Relationships matter because diversity is personal. If you’d like to ask a diverse person for information, consider your relationship. Are you friends or acquaintances? The type of relationship you have is important because you’re asking them to share personal experiences. Some people will share this information freely, while others may be more reticent.
  • No one can be the subject matter expert on all things diversity. People can only speak from their own personal experience. Speaking to a person with a diverse background doesn’t take the place of conducting in-depth research.
  • How big is your diversity bubble? Many have heard of the Do You Live in a Bubble quiz by Charles Murray.
    Ask yourself:
    • How many people from marginalized communities do you know, online or in person?
    • Are you friends with people from marginalized communities? How often do you speak with them? Regularly? Periodically? Rarely?
    • Are you actively promoting work and events by diverse writers?
    • What are some ways in which you could connect with people who are different from you?
  • Immerse yourself. I believe the most successful writers are the ones who immerse themselves in their research and in the culture and community of the diverse characters they wish to depict accurately.

Happy writing, everyone!

Author: Jessica Laine

Jessica Laine lives in Minneapolis. Her novels-in-progress have won the 2017 Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Bland award and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America-Midwest Hugh Holton award.

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