Diversity in Literature

So I’ve decided to take a break from the lighthearted and write about a topic I hold dearly to my heart, and that’s the concept of diversity in literature. Most authors write about what they know, and some people avoid writing about diverse characters because of an inherent fear of either perpetuating stereotypes or inadvertently offending somebody else’s culture in any way. And some authors write about their own cultural experiences in ways that might include magic or steampunk or any other genre that they desire. (Like me. Fun fact, I recently wrote a diverse magical fantasy MG and it was great fun, and I believe it’s the best I’ve written thus far.)

But diversity is an amazing thing, reflective of the world we live in now where other countries can be explored in faster and simpler ways with the help of airplanes or simple internet searches. Thanks to social media, people are reaching out to other people across the globe and learning that we’re all the same in our hearts even if our traditions, religions, or languages might be different. And literary diversity is mirroring that world by showing main characters who kick ass and have unique backgrounds, people like: indigenous peoples, religious minorities, and people from every continent (yes, including Antarctica).

Whether that literary diversity which you write about is for the LGBTQ+ community or for the sake of racial diversity is up to you as the writer to decide. But if you’re going to write about diversity, here are some bite-sized tips on how to write what could potentially be a very large and complex topic.

  1. Know the culture. If you’re writing about a diverse character that you know very little about, then hit the books and internet. Talk to other people with experience about that topic. It’s the same as any other topic really. Would you write about a physicist if you knew nothing about physics?
  2. Don’t resort to stereotypes. If you’re getting all of your diverse character’s actions/dialogue from what you’ve seen in the movies, then you’re going to have a problem.
  3. To know the world, you must see the world. And you don’t have to own a private jet to do it. Try taking up another language or visiting the local library to surf the internet and take a virtual vacation.
  4. Add layers. Although every person’s culture is extremely important to them, a diverse character is a complex person too who laughs at certain jokes and may even cry at watching sad puppy videos.
  5. Remember that diversity in literature is an amazing thing. It’s not a political agenda, it’s an artistic choice that allows your readers to better relate to your stories. Isn’t that a writer’s job, to relate to their reader? It’s nice for a child to read a book where the hero is just like them; it gives them a chance to be inspired to take action in their own lives and be just like that kickass zombie-warrior/ space royalty/ tea-drinking expert sailor they know they can be. And don’t worry. If you truly wish to write about literary diversity, then you can accomplish those goals and remain motivated.



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