Writing People of Different Ethinicies is Probably Challenging, but Humans are a Tapestry

I love books with a lot of diversity, but sometimes it’s tricky. How do you write people without making them cardboard stereotypes? All people are pretty interesting. The fact that their brains work differently, that their perspectives differ, that people can have the same religion, but view it differently.

So why does it feel like there is a dearth of diversity in books, especially young adult books? Many writers will include characters of different races, but make the mistake of making it all so boringly stereotypical a person just wants to scream in frustration.

For example, in Xenocide, there’s a planet entirely of Chinese people who live in a traditionally Chinese society.

But it’s 3,000 years in the future and it’s a wonder they didn’t bring back foot binding, it’s so painfully stereotypical. The people on the world of All Japanese People seldom eat fried fish. And people on Samoa world are the size of mountains, eat like crazy and laugh a lot.

The characters from these worlds come off like two dimensional caricatures. 

Now Neil Gaiman, he can write characters of different ethnic groups and races and make them feel real. For him, they are more than just a representative of a culture, but an actual human being. He writes an actual human being, gives them interests, dislikes, passion. They are more than just a skin colour, and that is refreshing!

That’s how I want to write a book.

I want to make all of my characters more than just their skin colour, their religion or whatever but WHOLE PEOPLE. It’s tricky to do that. It’s easier to pick stereotypes and work from there.

 

I’m also not sure I want to live on a planet where everyone is exactly alike. Mine would be the misfit planet with gays, transgender people, non-binary people, folks who just don’t fit into to these segregated planets.

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