Representation Matters: Writing what you don't know
Race, gender, orientation. Lots of writers are scared of giving offence, and so they play it safe. Which causes offence anyway. What should we do?
Click here to see the full blog post
takes opportunity to share favorite blog about writing diversely
Writing with Color primarily focuses on race/ethnicity/etc but there are a bunch of recs to other helpful blogs on writing diversely (though I don't know any off the top of my head) ^_^
The general message of this post is fantastic: representation matters, and it does! However, I think it's important to keep in mind there is a delicate balance to be struck between representation and taking away a voice from the marginalised. This is especially true when these aren't your experiences. Don't simply write a character.of a different culture/race/ethnicity/orientation to bulk out the diversity of your cast list. Yes, they are in fact characters, but the aim should be three dimensional individuals with experiences that don't centre completely around the above elements simply because there's more to life for real people and so it should be for fictional people. To simply create characters you run a risk of creating something that is two dimensional, flat, and causes even more offence. Think about what the wider implications your writing may have. A difficult task to be sure, because we can't always see or understand what effect our writings will have. To help with this I suggest having beta or alpha readers with these experiences, and to genuinely listen to what they tell you. Don't take offence at their suggestions, don't try to explain your intentions with whatever is a problem for them. Say 'thank you', change it as it's their experience - not yours, and endeavour to do better on the next draft.
The Writeblr community on Tumblr is full of excellent resources, and my top, go-to resource for anything to do with different cultures/races/ethnicity is http://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/ They have pretty much everything in their FAQ, and if you can't find it, they will help.
However, I think it's important to keep in mind there is a delicate balance to be struck between representation and taking away a voice from the marginalised.
This i think is what makes people so scared to try, which in turn causes the nonwriting to do the same thing.
To help with this I suggest having beta or alpha readers with these experiences, and to genuinely listen to what they tell you.
You literally took the words out of my mouth! It can be scary to share your work, but holy cow is it worth it!
Interesting. This just came out, and it's an interesting look at what we're talking about here: