Tip Tuesday Round Up: The Right in Writing
A weekly round up of writing advice and inspiration When I was in graduate school, I remember a fellow writer bringing to a workshop a lynching scene. The writer was not black. The question was worth asking: Had he “culturally appropriated” an experience — an experience of pain, no less? He hadn’t been lynched, and […]
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In regards to the first link, I have to say it's a tough one. Writers are often told to "write what you know". Yet someone may not know what a lynching is personally. Or they may not know what what domestic abuse feels like. Or being on the receiving end of bullying, etc. Yet, every one of us knows what fear, terror, panic, happiness, joy, sadness, etc can feel like.
One of the reasons I love reading, writing, and roleplaying (I love me my tabletop RPGs), is so I can empathise, learn, and experience things from the point of view of another. If I want to write about something that happened in an ancient Aztec culture, do I need to know it? Have experienced it to write it?
It reminds me of someone who mentioned on twitter that he knows he should write what he knows, but he wrote a scene about a female protagonist who was injured trying to put a bra on.
That "Who Gets To Write What" article brought back discussions I've had with people around the internet on the topic of how much you should apply real world preconceptions to an entirely fictional universe. There are many writing blogs I follow that push for more ethnic, gender, romantic, etc... diversity in fantasy works, but at the same time, expect writers to include that diversity while bound by real life social conventions.
For instance, if you create a world where skin color, sexuality, or gender identity aren't grounds for discrimination, but at the same time, having red hair is, then by the standards of many writers I've met, you're not actually considered to be addressing the topic of discrimination nor are you considered to be advocating inclusion by having things that are discriminated in real life society be a common accepted thing. And they'll often try to guilt you for not addressing these issues.
While I do understand people who suffered this real life discrimination wanting to be represented by characters they can relate to, I feel that particular demand to be creatively stifling. The greatest appeal of writing fantasy to me has always been the ability to create my own rules to how the world works and how society functions. The idea that this world I create can be anything. And I find myself often coming across criticism on my type of writing for doing exactly that. :/