Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writing Characters Who Aren't Like You

Someone on a mailing list posted this link (thanks Lyn!) and I had to pass it on. Daniel Jose Older, an SFF writer and editor, wrote an article called 12 Fundamentals of Writing "The Other" (And The Self). If you write, or have considered writing, about characters who are different from you in some basic way, this'll give you some good stuff to think about.

I particularly like #5 -- "Racist writing is craft failure." Absolutely. It's easy to reach for obvious traits or characteristics without thinking about it, and have your hand fall onto a racist (sexist, homophobic, etc.) cliche. If bigoted cliches end up in your story, they're like any other cliches and make the writing weaker and more shallow.

Good stuff, check it out.



Charles Gramlich said...

Off to have a look.

Angie said...

Charles -- hope it's useful. :)


Suzan Harden said...

Interesting article. I wrote a novella where the main protagonist was an African-American teenage male, and I'm still waiting to get called out for it. It's like the writer's Imposter Syndrome goes into overdrive when I try to write "other".

Angie said...

Suzan -- I know what you mean. I've written a number of stories with a protag or major supporting character who was a person of color, or otherwise not like me, and I'm still waiting to get some horrible mistake pointed out to me. All we can do is the best we can, though, like with any other aspect of our writing that we haven't experienced personally. And if/when we get called out on it (on anything) handle it gracefully. [crossed fingers]