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Diversity of characters, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of a story. I don’t just mean making your characters have distinct personalities. I’m talking race, gender, religion, sexuality, and much more.

Regardless of whether or not most stories are about straight white people (they are, at least the ones that get super popular), it is still important to have diversity.

The way I see it, good, well-researched diversity has two effects: it shows those people who identify with the character that they are not alone, and it educates those of us who have not experienced life the way the character and other people like the character have.

Now, there is something to say for not having diverse writing. I’ve seen people complain about how they always imagined their characters one way and then get upset when people suggest they make their stories more diverse. The response is always “well, of course you don’t have to do what other people want. It’s your story. Don’t try to force it. Yadda yadda yadda.” Yeah, sure, it’s your story and you should never force anything. Believe me, forced diversity usually just comes out at tired stereotypes. But maybe you should take some time to reflect on why you can’t add diversity to your story. What is making it so hard? Why don’t you want to include other types of people? 

One reason I predict is “but I don’t know anything about x people.” Of course not. No one can know everything about everyone else’s experience (and let’s be real here, if you’re so resistant to adding diversity then you are probably pretty privileged which will make it hard for you to see the need for diversity). 

Another reason could be fear. I know that I, as a white, cisgender, straight passing female, I have a lot of fear about writing other races and genders wrong. I fear writing something that will hurt others, stereotypes that perpetuate stereotypes.

To both and any other possible reasons for not writing diverse characters, the answer is research. That is a large part of the writing process anyway. Research. Research. Research.

Read accounts by people of other races, religions, genders, etc than you. Talk to then. Get their story about what life has been like for them. And actually listen. Go even further and discuss with them what kind of things they would like to see in stories about them, how they would like to be portrayed. Read books (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, everything) about minorites and by minorities. 

Be less egocentric and more compassionate and considerate in your writing.

What are some of your favorite (for lack of a better term) minority authors?

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