Thursday, February 12, 2015

Writing Diverse Characters

After posting sporadically a blog for a year, I'm gonna give you two in one week (shhh, I wrote this one on Tuesday but figured out how to schedule it for later--I'm learning!).

There's been a huge push for more diverse characters in stories. *Gasp* There are more types of people in the world than white, blond people--who'd've thunk it! It may be easier to write that because it's what you know (if you've seen my picture you'll know I'm a white, blonde person). But you don't go to school with people of one race or hair color. You don't work with people of one race or hair color. Your friends aren't all the same race with the same hair color. I think you get what I'm saying. Adding people from different races or cultures has been intimidating for me--more because I don't want to ignorantly offend someone. In the tradition of paranoid writers everywhere, I'm not going to tell you what ethnicity my new MC is--I don't want you to steal my idea. The very most important thing you can do when writing a character of a race or ethnicity you're not afraid of is to find someone who is. I'm very fortunate that I have a friend who's of this ethnicity and she's even picked the brains of her family members for me.

The internet is a huge, massive resource for writers. There are websites dedicated to certain ethnic groups with common phrases and cultural breakdowns. Get on message boards, reddit or twitter and find someone who's willing to help you learn about a group of people different than yourself.

Is it bad to write about blond, white people--no! But when the community is inundated with stories about the same types of people, they start to run together and can become boring. I'll start envisioning Jennifer Lawrence as all the main characters (I may read your character as looking like Dakota Fanning, but my mind always pictures someone else--I'm just strange that way).

Perhaps the best way to get more diverse characters is to encourage more diverse writers, but there's nothing stopping me from learning and writing about a culture or race I'm unfamiliar with. And just remember, any mistakes or stereotypes are completely my own fault--and remember, I'm human and I'm learning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Red Ink Tank Podcast

I guess since my other two critique partners have shared the news, I won't be spoiling anything--I'm actually very good at spoiling things, usually on accident.

For at least five years now, I've had the pleasure of hoarding Anna Banks, NYT Best Selling Author, as my critique partner. About two years ago now, I had to start sharing her with Kaylyn Witt, a very talented writer who wanted to subject her manuscript to our red pens. Earlier this year, Anna brilliantly suggested that we start a podcast--offer writing tips, critiquing tips, and stories of our overall journeys with other writers.

Soon, very soon, we will start recording these podcasts and unleashing them on the world.

We are funny, irreverent and full of wisdom and sarcasm. We'll be broadcasting at least twice a month and we want to know what you want to hear about. Anna's blog had someone suggest we discuss how we found our critique partners--that is an excellent idea. Critique partners are vital to making your story the best it can be and give you outlets for the frustrations of trying to become a represented and/or published author. 

Be on the lookout for our website and the date of our debut podcast. Let me know if you have any writing, querying, critiquing questions you want us to answer.

But beware: pages WILL bleed.