Writing Discussion

Links on the portrayal of race and gender in the media

I don’t write frequently about race and gender on this blog, though I do think of it. Other people are far more eloquent at this conversation than I am and here are a few good articles I wanted to share.

The importance of casting in breaking sterotypes. Some of the things that have been swirling around in my head about race portrayed in the media, but I haven’t been able to articulate. I hope you read it, and think of these same things when you’re writing, because fiction is another source from which we learn which dreams are acceptable:

The problem is that actors carry our dreams onto screens with us, and those dreams have power.

If you would just dream a little bigger, we would follow you. While everyone likes looking at gorgeous people, there are a lot of definitions of gorgeous. The way we are represented on screen hold meaning and power and consequences for us. The way we are represented on screen hold meaning and power and consequences for us. You can take risks and still be commercial. If Machete can pass the Bechdel Test, so can you.

And then there’s this: On writing female characters, or characters.

The crux of the problem:  a female character is seen as female first, a person second.  Whereas a male character is seen as person first, male second.
Think of action movies:  you have the lead guy, the geek guy, maybe the big tough guy, the uber hot guy, the guy of some racial minority and the woman.  “Guy” is considered the default gender so it gets subdivided into types.  But not “gal”.  “Gal” IS a type (just as racial minority is a type, but that’s a blog post for another time).

My point: we as authors have been writing about people we aren’t for forever.  We find a way to empathize, we find a way in.  Female characters are no different.  All they are are characters.  They are people too.

Is “Game of Thrones” too white? Read through to the end. It discusses the impact of Tolkien on Fantasy.

Ultimately, A Song of Ice and Fire, like the Lord of the Rings, is the work of a brilliant and conscientious writer who is nonetheless writing in his own time and place. The United States in 2012 is, far too often, and even with a black president, still a culture rich in racist stereotypes and xenophobic fear-mongering. Expecting a writer to remain entirely unstained by this is expecting a person to live underwater without getting wet. If we still find troubling racial assumptions and caricatures in fantasy – whether on the page, or on the big or small screen — this probably tells us more about our culture-wide problems than it does about a single writer’s, or a single show’s issues. A Song of Ice and Fire is indeed our American Lord of the Rings, and if Westeros has its race problems, they are simply a powerful reflection of America’s.

And lastly, there is no such thing as a good stereotype. On strong female characters as a stereotype, model minorities, and a lot of other good stuff.

“good” stereotypes are dangerous. Not only because so many of them end up encouraging bigotry, but also because they make us complacent. We let the ugly stereotypes slide because we’ve bought into the “good” ones. And if one kind of “brain macro” is OK, why not another?

Stereotypes kill. Even the “good” ones. Stereotypes end careers, or prevent them from ever getting started. Stereotypes hide real discrimination, and excuse real violence. Stereotypes change the fate of nations, usually for the worse.

Its OK to struggle with portraying race or gender in your writing (I do), but it is not acceptable to ignore the issues. I hope you take these posts, read and chew thoroughly. You may not agree with every point, and that’s OK. I think its good to be reminded that we need to examine the messages we’re sending to the world and to make sure that what we choose to say is intentional.

Writer’s always talk about subverting cliche, and like cliche, stereotypes are boring, and lazy. However, stereotypes can also be damaging. Maybe not one story is not enough to do harm, but the messages we hear get layered and reinforced by one another over time. Stories become part of us. They have always been used to explain our world, and our place in it.

Everyone should be allowed to dream, and we writers are architects of dreams.

36 Comments to “Links on the portrayal of race and gender in the media”

  1. A good round-up of links. This is something I, too, struggle with. As I mentioned on one of Tiyana’s recent posts, I suffer from “Default White Guy” syndrome. In my current WIP I’m actively combatting that. (There is a White Guy, and he is one of the “coprotagonists”… but he’s not the main focus of the story by far. And what I mean by “coprotagonist”, in this case, will become clearer to readers when there’s actually something worth reading. The main focus of the story is neither traditionally white nor a guy.)

    The quote above about writing female characters is, for me, of particular interest, given what I just said about my WIP. It’s something I’ve feared the most.. and the quote suggests a way around the possible “problem”, to wit: don’t write “female” characters, write characters who are female. Let them be characters first and let their gender just be one of any number of descriptive things you can say about the character. That’s more or less the approach I’m trying to take with Isa, my main protagonist.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      I think that’s the best approach, or at least the one that makes the most sense to me. Writing a character with depth, and not just to a trope, eliminates a multitude of sins. And if you’re not sure, when you’re done, I’m sure you can find a few beta readers who will point out if anything is unbelievable (raises hand to volunteer!).

  2. Good points and good links. I’ve been thinking of expectations for female characters with my current project, since it’s sort of YA (the main character is a teenager, a runaway, learning about herself and the world, learning that not fitting in can be really cool, etc.) but from what I read it seems that YA books with female protags are supposed to have eligible boys around for the protag to choose from. It appears that this is supposed to be a focus, more than it was for Harry Potter, for example (I’ve not read the books, but in the movies it’s pretty secondary to other stuff.) And my character doesn’t have that, and at this point in her life she’s okay with that.

    Also, and this doesn’t apply dierctly to my story, ia there YA fiction for girls who would prefer to have eligible giels hangimg aroumd? It would seem there would.be a market.

    1. I think the “Have eligible boys around for the protag to choose from” is one of the problems that is at least related to the quote on writing female characters. Now, there’s nothing wrong with romance, I think – many, perhaps most story plots can benefit from a little romance – but when the female character is defined by her relation or potential relation to a male character, that’s denigrating. In male-centric stories, even when there are love interests, the love interest usually isn’t the whole and sole point of the story. The male characters have a life of their own. Female characters should, too.

      This is, I think, the vital difference between a Twilight and a Hunger Games. The latter has a romance (even a love triangle). But that’s not the point. It adds to the story, makes it better, but the point is something more fundamental to the female protagonist. In the former, on the other hand, the relationship is the point. It is perhaps forgiveable because it draws most heavily from Romance genre conventions, but I think that’s a huge part of the negative reaction a lot of people have to it: the protag seems to have no life of her own outside the question of her relationships with the men in her life. (In fact, I daresay, I suspect that despite having a female protagonist, Twilight possibly, even probably does not pass the Bechdel Test.)

      1. “when the female character is defined by her relation or potential relation to a male character, that’s denigrating.”

        I think you hit it on the mark there Stephen. That was exactly the trouble I had with the Twilight books (I read them all). In contrast, I have read some amazing adult romance, and they’re really character stories. The surface objective looks like getting the man, but they’re really about discovering something internally: getting over an old wound, pride, inner strength… etc. before love can happen.

        I think people believe that teenage girls are obsessed with boys, which is why that trope appears so frequently. But I devoured the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys books when I was a teen, and the Baby Sitters Club (pre-teen?), and the point of those wasn’t to choose from eligible males. I don’t read much YA anymore though, so besides Potter and the Hunger Games, I can’t think of any more examples.

  3. The last one got posted before it was ready — sorry for the typos. I agree also on “good” stereotypes being no good. They can sound like praise, but they all contain limitations and restrictions. They’re actually just as bad as the negative ones — they just have a candy coating on the outside to make them go down more easily.

    1. They’re just as hard to swallow when you’re the subject of them. Once a guy, looking for a date, came up to me and said “I prefer Asian women because they’re clean, tidy, and smell better.” He’d probably have run if he saw my room.

      1. I’ve talked before about the stat I saw a while back that the percent of Asians in tech support positions is much higher than in management positions managing tech support departmnts. Typical “glass ceiling” situation, where the “good” stereotype that Asians are good at tech stuff can make those jobs into a dead end.

  4. Interesting snippets, Theresa!

    Heh, somehow I was expecting to see at least one from Nora. 😀 (Strange as this might sound, I’d never thought about stereotypes in such an extreme way, though I suppose she’s right. Still, they always have a bit of truth to them, no matter how much we may hate ’em… Even some of the ones that could apply to me and “my people” I have to laugh at every now and then.)

    *sighs* I need a job where I can peek at stuff on the internet intermittently so I can catch up on reading also these interesting articles! 😀

    Also, I find the whole White Guy Syndrome interesting because though I am a “person-of-color” I think sometimes I’m actually a party to it without realizing it. A while ago I was showing my dad inspiration photos of how I imagined the main characters in my WIP would look like, and he said (part jokingly), “Where are all the black people?”

    I’m sure my face went pretty blank then ’cause I didn’t realize I wasn’t writing (mostly) about black people. Though I have some in my story (and other characters of “minority” races, in the sense we understand this within the real world), they don’t become more prominent until later; and, at the time, I hadn’t entirely thought out my colored characters. Hmm…

    Not that I should be writing primarily about black people… It was just a weird realization.

    Now, what’s funny (or not-so-funny) about the quote from ididntchoosethis.blogspot.ca:

    “Think of action movies: you have the lead guy, the geek guy, maybe the big tough guy, the uber hot guy, the guy of some racial minority and the woman.”

    There’s this underlying implication that the lead, geek, tough and uber hot guys are all white. The default is not just “male” but “white male”. *sighs* A product of cultural conditioning, I guess. (Of course, that article wasn’t actually focusing on race. Still, I found that interesting.)

    In any case, though it’s helpful to be mindful of race and gender in fiction, at the same I don’t think writers should get too caught up on it because not all stories are going to demand diversity. Just depends on the scope, really. Plus, you can’t please everyone…and sometimes, sad as it may be, intentional sexism and racism just makes fiction that much more interesting–particularly when it’s clear it’s stemming from the characters and not the author him/herself, who is using it to comment, be it subtly or overtly, on society at large.

    Anyway, I think Saladin was, more or less, talking about the same thing, just coming at it from a different angle.

    (And wow…sorry for the lengthy post. Been a while since I left one this long, lol.)

    1. Speaking for myself, I’ve been following Jemisin’s blog posts a lot, and she’s become a big inspiration to me for how I think about race and gender when I write. (But doing it well seems like a high bar to pass, which is why it terrifies me. I want to do it well because I think it’s important to do it well. But just as I fear that I’m insufficiently talented to write anything really well, I fear I’m insufficiently talented and introspective enough to write race and gender well.)

      I find your comments about DWGS interesting. I feel like I’ve read some thoughts on this before, about how our cultural depiction of heroes in the media affects everyone, so that the phenomenon of a People of Color defaulting to White Guy when they imagine heroic characters is actually not uncommon. I also recall reading of a study where very small children – like 4 or 5 years old – were given baby dolls of different colors to play with, and then the researchers asked the children about their experiences playing with the dolls. And the researchers found that regardless of race (i.e. both white children and black children) were significantly more likely to describe their baby doll as a “bad” or “naughty” baby if the doll was a Baby Doll of Color than if it was a doll with Northern European features. It was a sad and very heart-breaking study to read about. And this was a recent study.

      Cultural conditioning indeed.

      As a writer this makes me feel very conflicted. At times, I know I want to write about.. well… white heroes. Because I am white and I’m interested in the heroic and mythic cycles of European cultures. But I realize I want to write about other, non-white heroes as well, because hey, fantasy would be boring if the hero was always basically the same guy. On one level, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a lot of the traditional fantasy stories featuring heroes of pseudo-European stock. But that F&SF are so overwhelmingly dominated by those heroes is troubling. I think it would be disingenuous of me pretend to write exclusively about Characters of Color. But I think I need to be conscious of it when I write, and to cultivate in myself a sense of excitement about stories with many different kinds of heroes.

      1. I think sterotypes persist because there is a grain of truth to them, but they’re not the whole truth. (I do find some funny too 😉 I think it really gets to be bad, when they become blanket expectations of behavior or character, and people don’t realize that they are stereotypes.

        POC are just as likely to suffer from the default white character. Looking back at my previous writing, my stories were often set in pseudo-european settings, and therefore white. I think I mentioned it before, but the first time I read the Earthsea books, I was completely surprised and taken aback, a few pages in when I realized that Ged wasn’t white, as I’d been picturing him thus far. I’d defaulted to cultural norms, without realizing it. I think that’s likely for anyone who’s grown up in North America.

        And yes, I completely agree that not all stories should be about race, but to take an example from TV again… Sometimes I look around at the background characters in a restaurant scene, and wonder why everyone is white, including the servers, and the kitchen staff. Or in a school scene, why all the teachers are brown haired and mousey. I have plenty of non-white friends that are teachers, in real life. Why is my fiction excluding them?

        I suppose I look at it backwards. Instead of needing to justify why there are POC in a book, I think we need to question why there are none, and if there are none, it should be intentional, and not just lazy.

        And I know, no matter what I do, someone’s going to be offended, but that’s not reason enough not to try my best 😉

      2. I’d be happy at the very least, even if the hero is white, that the world is populated with many different people (and women! That’s a topic for another day). I don’t think that’s a lot to ask out of epic fantasy writers, because they’re the ones that enjoy the world building, and I think that they need to do a better job of building worlds, and not just blown up homogenous islands.

        And no not every hero needs to be a POC, but POC doing interesting things, and not just depicted as the enemy, wouldn’t be too hard I think. Where are the artists, the explorers, the doctors, the musicians, the thieves, the air pirates… *chuckles*

      3. “And no not every hero needs to be a POC, but POC doing interesting things, and not just depicted as the enemy, wouldn’t be too hard I think. Where are the artists, the explorers, the doctors, the musicians, the thieves, the air pirates… *chuckles*”

        LoL. Also, it’d be nice if they lived through the end of the story… 😉

        “I suppose I look at it backwards. Instead of needing to justify why there are POC in a book, I think we need to question why there are none, and if there are none, it should be intentional, and not just lazy.”

        I think that’s the key there. If a world seems to be well thought-out (or if the internal logic of a story just makes sense), then readers will have less need to question the lack or overabundance of a particular sect of people.

      4. “Also, it’d be nice if they lived through the end of the story.”

        Amen. I was just watching the trailer for Prometheus, and I did have a sinking feeling. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron — all major actors, and also one Black guy. who seems to be the pilot. I have a sinking feeling I know which one will go first (I could be wrong, of course, and I hope I am, but we’ll see).

        I did enjoy the fact that in the last Resident Evil movie there was a reveal at the end that the Black guy wasn’t dead after all (and will be in the next movie). One of the two moments in the film that I think was there to tweak the audience’s expectations about how these things usually go.

        Oh, and I agree with Theresa’s point also. How about a variety, not just a token, doing all sorts of different interesting things? (BTW. I’m starting to notice that my current story is increasingly about a lot of women — maybe I should get a token guy in there somewhere… 🙂 )

      5. E and I sometimes bet who’s going to die first in a movie… yeah… odds are definitely stacked against the minority, odds increase if there’s only one… or the guy who takes out a photo of his family and says how much he loves them. LOL

  5. “Everyone should be allowed to dream, and we writers are architects of dreams.”

    What a beautiful line.

    I’m looking forward to reading these links.

    Btw, I’ve been rewatching Battlestar Galactica (the new version) on Netflix, and HOLY CRAP they are SO good at characterization. Male, female, doesn’t matter. No one is purely good or evil; everyone is just who they are, with their own goals and desires and personalities, and it’s amazing. So, so amazing.

    1. I’ve heard that too! I haven’t watched it myself, but it seems to be an excellent example of fully fleshed out complex characters (from talking to friends). I really need to watch!

  6. Very true. I did a post on whitewashing in Hollywood, as I’m sick of them taking Asian roles and fitting them with white actors.

    When it comes to female stereotyping and plain demoralizing, look at Twilight. Bella is a model for young females on how NOT to be.

    1. I remember that post, and the whitewashing always makes me sad. These are stories that came with many fans (why else would they make a movie?), that liked the stories as they were, and Hollywood still doesn’t think its profitable to cater to them? It boggles my mind. All they are doing is alienating the people that had the most interest in a movie being made to begin with.

      Oh Bella’s a terrible example. If she was a friend and not fictional, I’d tell her to get the hell out of that relationship.

    2. Jay: Good post. I especially liked the Starship Troopers example. As you may know, that’s one reason Samuel R. Delany became a science fiction writer (not specifically because the protagonist isn’t white, though that was probably a factor, but because it was not revealed until quite a way into the book — and Delany realized that science fiction could show a world where it really didn’t matter the way it does now).

  7. There are healthy points here, even if there is myopia as well. The line that really did me in was, “The United States in 2012 is, far too often, and even with a black president, still a culture rich in racist stereotypes and xenophobic fear-mongering.” When you get to that level of griping, you are forced to concede there have few times in human history been big places without interracial stereotypes and xenophobia. Persian Renaissance? The Euro one? Any Chinese dynasty? Point me to a modern first world country and I’ll find you some offensive opinions from within it. And once you realize that, the line of complaints about George R.R. Martin’s books are much closer to noise than substance. Bigotry of many kinds has been part of the human condition since we evolved in the first place, and is still very real in every culture I’ve experienced. Hell, even the N.K. Jemisin post you linked to stereotypes the crap out of conservatives in its opening paragraphs. This is garbage from every direction and must be dealt with in our fiction in a much more robust form than it’s been receiving. Yet I sympathize with why it hasn’t – it’s frickin’ hard to write a good one-sided piece of fiction, much less a good dynamic one.

    1. I don’t think there have been any civilizations that have existed without racism, prejudice, or sexism. I think the difference in North American culture of the 21st century, is that we pride ourselves as being past that or better than that. Of course, women are equal. They can vote, they can work. Racist? Who me? Never. There are laws that prevent discriminatory hiring practices. However, there’s a disconnect between what’s being said, versus societal attitudes.

      There are no perfect solutions. If there were, we wouldn’t need this discussion. I think we have a long way to go, but hey writers are part of culture, we contribute it, and therefore we are shaping the future as we write. I for one, hope that its more inclusive, if not for my sake, but my future children’s sake.

      1. It’s definitely part of mainstream North American cultures I’ve experienced, yeah, and it eats me up inside every time we see that we aren’t really passed it. But it also eats me up to hear my French friends say how much more progressive they are than the stupid Americans, and then read about treatment of North Africians in their ghettos. That’s one ugly reason that I’m entirely on board with you that writers have to contribute more for an inclusive future. I’m not even going to have kids and I’d like it to be a more welcoming future-tense.

    2. Where I, personally, take issue with your argument is the tacit implication that the fact that there are no perfect societies somehow negates any discussion of what’s wrong in any given society or any discussion of how that society could/should improve. That’s a preposterous notion. “Well… you’re not going to get one better anywhere else, so you may as well suck it up and accept what you’ve got.” If that attitude had been allowed to fester among those groups who have been oppressed by our society in the past, then we wouldn’t have improved upon our society as much as we have today.

      Also, I think harping on the “stereotyping” that Jemisin does in her preamble on the stereotyping article is an exercise in completely missing the point. That being: her point was that these characterizations are based on stereotypes, which she then goes on to argue against (i.e. that the stereotypes are not useful or helpful). She was specifically using stereotypes of real-world women who are perceived as being strong and fierce as analogous to kick-butt action heroines.

      I think characterizing any discussion of the problems in our society as “griping” trivializes those problems and trivializes the plight of people who are not possessed of socio-economic power face. These are legitimate discontinuities in a culture that overtly celebrates the equality and potential of all mankind but which is structurally still hobbled by old practices and cultural institutions that disadvantage different groups of people. This is a real thing. It’s a real problem that we still face today and that we still struggle to overcome.

      1. Stephen, I object to your response for many reasons, but I want to lead with a clarification that is bigger than what is about to amount to more griping.

        The Salon article, at many points and including what Theresa and I quoted, singles out U.S. (and for us, North American) culture as uniquely or distinctly bigoted, which is a fallacious approach insofar as it characterizes those bigotries. Writing that it is “still a culture rich in racist stereotypes” implies that there are cultures that aren’t. If the article actually tackled the specifics of discriminatory mechanisms I wouldn’t have had the objection, because there is much good to be done with the specifics, but by repeatedly arguing that (even at times defending Martin as more progressive than Tolkien) this culture has bigotry and so the work will bear marks of bigotry, and doing so without perspective beyond the culture, it becomes an oversimplification of national behavior rather than analysis of human cultural behavior. This dispenses necessary analysis of human behavior for the sake of anti-nationalism, and is done without rigor or practicality. None of my objection characterizes the U.S. as innocent or not requiring great improvement. That is, at the very kindest, an is/ought fallacy.

        I want that understood that before we go on. It is significantly bigger than defending my personal opinions, though I can’t help but go do that.

        What you called a preposterous notion, Stephen, is indeed preposterous and also not what I wrote. You don’t make it to the end of my comment and still have evidence conclude that I believe, “”Well… you’re not going to get one better anywhere else, so you may as well suck it up and accept what you’ve got.””

        Those are words you put in my mouth. Allow me to quote what I actually concluded: “This is garbage from every direction and must be dealt with in our fiction in a much more robust form than it’s been receiving.”

        If I confused you with the noun “garbage,” allow me to clarify: I meant it as something quite culturally bad, and as I went on to say, requires dealing with. I believe my words were transparent, but am making sure here.

        These two quotes are irreconcilable because one’s an actual opinion I wrote and one is a non-sequitur that you did. If you followed the correspondence between Theresa and myself in the comments directly above, neither of us views this as something that isn’t a “real thing” or “a real problem we still face today.” I don’t appreciate that, nor do I appreciate your attempt to characterize me as not caring about social evil in pointing out the distressing frequency of these evils.

        But at the same time, I can see how upsetting it’d be if you read what I wrote as dismissive or permissive of bigotry. I can see how my use of “griping” would seem dismissive of a whole field of social criticism, but it was not aimed the entire field. There is legitimate social criticism. Even the concern for bigotry in America in that Salon article is valid. The complaint on how the Dothraki are represented through pastiche of stereotypes in the HBO adaptation is particularly apt. There I just used the wrong verb, and I’m sincerely sorry if that’s part of what set you off.

      2. The verb “griping” in and of itself is a big part of what I perceived as the problem with your post. Your closing statement and response to Tessa notwithstanding, in using that particular ver had a trivializing effect, which is rhetorically aggressive and dismissive. (By which I mean, the word used in context, as a piece of rhetoric, is qualitatively similar to arguments I’ve seen whose purposes are to excuse the kind of societal problems these various links are decrying against. I don’t mean to be overly pedantic, but the word “gripe” specifically carries a negative connotation, concurrent with “nagging”, that implies that a complaint is either invalid or not sufficiently worthy of examination or redressment. I say I don’t mean to be pedantic because I assume you already know this, but I wanted to make explicit why I found this to be the tip of the spear in what reads like an argument that is dismissive.) Combined with the apparent misreading of Jemisin’s post (which I’ll note you did not respond to)… well… if your argument was not that this sort of social critique is invalid then that fact gets quite lost in your flippant dismissal of these various social critiques.

        Regarding your position on the Salon article, you say: “Writing that it is “still a culture rich in racist stereotypes” implies that there are cultures that aren’t.” It does no such thing. That’s a strawman. Inasmuch as the article does not discuss cultural problems outside of the US/North America, then it is not commenting on those other cultures at all. To paraphrase yourself, these are words you put in the article’s mouth. Stating that there are problems within a specific nation/culture does not require an intimate exegesis of the problems in other nations/cultures that are outside the narrow scope of the discussion of the specific example. That these problems are inherrent in certain universal human predilictions further does not negate the seriousness of the discourse – nor does it refute the notion that these are things which can be overcome.

        Given that the Salon article in question was about a specific US/North American cultural artifact (to wit: A Game of Thrones and Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), I daresay that a complete analysis of other cultures of which the work in question is not an artifact was quite outside the scope of the article. To require that it do so is like requiring that any social critique be at the same level as a doctoral thesis on the problem in question – but while doctoral theses have their merit and value, they are not sufficient to complete the public discourse on topics as senstive and charged as these. Layman critiques play a vital role.

        And so my point stands: that these other cultures are rife with similar problems, nor that these problems arise from certain primal human instincts does not negate the criticism of the specific cultural insantiation being examined.

        While you may in your conclusion be supportive of the idea of engaging with these problems in our fiction, I still can’t find my way around reading what you originally wrote as needlessly dismissive of the various social critiques Tessa linked to. By my count in your 216-word original comment, you spent 155 words variously dismissing or trivializing those articles (i.e. the entire section starting with “The line that really did me in…” and ending with “…stereotypes the crap out of conservatives in its opening paragraphs.” inclusive). With 71% of your comment focused on this dismissal/trivialization, I don’t think it was a terrible leap for me to come to the conclusion that this was the major thrust of your argument. In that sense, your actual final statement seemed to me to be more a non-sequitor than a logical conclusion based on the merits of the argument you’d laid forth.

        That said… Inasumuch as you’ve clarified that this reading wasn’t your intention, I offer the above merely as an examination on why it is that your comment could be read the way that I read it. For where I may have been in error, I apologize.


  8. Hi, T.S. Please allow me to commend you on this post and also tell you that I love the way you write, I’m a big fan. I know I don’t comment here as often as I should, but I have a lot of respect for what you do, and as such I chose you for the Versatile Blogger Award, recently bestowed upon me by Steve Green of The Twisted Quill. My main blog is called Liminal Fiction, but part of my protocol there is that all posts are flash fiction. For this very reason, I have a separate blog I call ‘miscellany’ where I post whatever I want, whenever I want. Hence, I’ve passed on the Versatile Blogger Award on this separate blog, I hope you’ll accept it, here’s a link: http://richardbon.blogspot.com/2012/04/versatile-blogger-award.html

  9. I gave a main character (white girl) an Asian love interest, and I remember thinking that some girl who loves an Asian boy was going to be so thrilled to see an aspect of her life reflected in the book.

    Writing with different ethnicities has one particular challenge: we authors use “markers” to differentiate characters. We bring in a side character and mention his walking cane, for example, and that’s his marker to help people remember who he is. When you have one non-majority character, it can seem rather obvious to mention something race-related when that character appears. As writers, we have to be aware of this and remember to give them a little more than simply being a race, even if it means coming up with almost-gimmicky markers. As long as the markers aren’t stereotypes, this will make the character more real.

    1. That would have made me happy 🙂

      That is a challenge. I’ve been thinking about non-stereotypical markers, and they’re not easy to identify. Sometimes it can be done through language, or food, but physical descriptions can be tricky.

  10. Ooh, this is really good. I love how they pointed out how female characters are “Female” before anything else. 🙂 It’s nice when someone says what everyone else’s subconscious was thinking.

Comments are closed.