More and more publishers are seeking diverse works (for good reason), and while more writers WANT to write diversely, most don’t feel qualified. So how do you write to something you don’t know? We have put together a few tips to help you get started.
Unless you have first-hand experience within the minority you wish to write, then you must first admit you know NOTHING!
For most authors research is key in any case, however if you plan to write about a minority then whether you are a pantser or plotter research is your logical next step. This goes beyond a simple Google search…
Talk to people. Twitter, Facebook, the corner cafe, get out there and find out about people’s experiences. Most people are more than happy to talk to and educate others.
So you want to pick up that pen…not yet. Take what you have learned so far and now look at what is out there already. There is no point writing diversely to fit the trend, like all books, yours must have an original point of view. Make sure your diverse characters fit the world you’ve put them in.
Write the damn thing. Then polish until perfect.
Find sensitivity readers, unlike your usual Beta readers, you want your sensitivity readers to point out any flaws in the representation of your diverse characters.
Unless you are writing someones biography, completely factually based and irrefutable, then your characters experiences may be viewed still as an inaccurate representation. By taking the time to do the steps above, your chance of backlash is decreased. Remember you cannot please everyone, some people didn’t like that vampires could sparkle.
If you do make a mistake, apologise and learn from it.
Everyone deserves to be represented, and to see themselves as the heroes in novels.
The #ownvoices and ‘We Need Diverse Books’ initiatives are driving the movement, so hopefully, one day not too far away, we won’t need ‘diverse’ books, we will simply have novels that represent a wide range of diverse peoples.
What do you think? Are there any steps we’ve missed? What are your experiences with writing diversely?
Heather and Rebecca live on the coast of Australia, a place rich in diversity. They’re both proud to live in a multicultural society, and be part of multicultural families.