On Writing Characters With Whom You Don’t Share Race, Gender, Sexuality, Ethnicity, or Economic Background

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I read a WordPress blog this morning where a cisgender, heterosexual, caucasian, male presenting blogger advised an author to not worry about reviews saying their book was racist or bigoted. As a queer, white presenting (but actually mixed-race), female-presenting author, I’d like to say: worst advice ever.

He believed it was a “current climate” sensitivity. No. People been done fed up with bs.

It’s my personal belief in #ownvoices for main characters, but you do you. Even if your mc is the same as you head to toe and in background, we live in a diverse world. Your book better be diverse.

If you’re writing about the experiences of someone who is of another race, religion, or culture, a good sensitivity reader will keep you from ignoring biases and cultural blind spots. Most of the Big Five have them on hand.

Before you even put your fingers to the keyboard when writing a story like that read Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shaw.

©T.J. Deschamps


Published by TJ Deschamps

Tammy loves to build worlds with words, exploring themes the effect of diaspora on the generations born elsewhere than their ancestors with the backdrop of tech or magic and dragons (sometimes both). These stories are inspired by her own family's immigrant experience. She's queer and many of her characters fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum (though that is not the focus of her work). She's married to an engineer who dances. Together they are raising three precocious teens in the Seattle suburbs. Two of her children are neurodiverse. Her experiences have taught her much about the world, its beauties and its injustices. All of this comes through in her fiction with a healthy dose of absurd humor.

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