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What Does It Take To Write Diverse Characters?

Vintage typewriter

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:

  1. Slang words (not all ethnicities use the same words to mean the same things)
  2. Food
  3. Favorite things
  4. 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:

  1. Mannerisms and behaviors
  2. Matter of dress and hairstyles
  3. Dialogue (this one is very important!)
  4. 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!


Recent Comments

  • Jessica Marie Baumgartner
    November 27, 2017 - 4:53 pm · Reply

    This 100%! I was lucky enough to grow up in a diverse area with people from all walks of life and reflecting that in my writing comes naturally. For anyone who is in a more segregated area, I urge you to travel, explore, and get out of your neighborhood and get to know people from areas you never would have considered hanging out in.

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