Let me preface this post by saying it’s a departure from the rules.
I write diverse characters in made-up situations bordering on reality. Sometimes my characters reflect my ethnicity and gender, many times they don’t.
If you’re a writer, I believe you owe it to your readers to develop unique characters. Sometimes those characters don’t resemble the author—at least, not on the surface. (I’ll save motivations for another post.)
Question: how do you proceed to write WHO you don’t know? Easy answer: meet somebody. The long answer: meet a lot of somebodies. While meeting these people conduct some interviews and do some real research.
Some questions to consider when asking others or doing research:
- Slang words (not all ethnicities use the same words to mean the same things)
- Favorite things
- Proper ways of referring to things. How are things named? For instance, prior to the late eighties you didn’t hear African-American.
In my opinion, the next best thing to plain asking what you need to know is to OBSERVE! Observations work for creating all types of characters. If you’re a female writer, how are you going to describe a male swagger if you’ve never seen one?
Things to consider when observing:
- Mannerisms and behaviors
- Matter of dress and hairstyles
- Dialogue (this one is very important!)
- Interactions with members of the same race or sex and with the opposite race or sex.
It’s my belief that doing these few things will help give any writer a better perspective when writing diverse characters.
What things would you add to my lists?
Don’t forget… When in doubt, ask someone you trust!