Diversity in Fiction

Hey, everyone! I hope your weekend is going well.

So, as I slowly expand my writing platform and join other writing communities, I noticed the topic of diversity comes up, a lot. Of course, it totally makes sense why more readers and agents are requesting stories with diverse characters.

In our modern society, people from all different backgrounds live together, work together, and form relationships. This post isn’t about how to write a story with diversity, but its asking, do you include diversity in your stories?

When some people think of diversity, they think this:

diversity

(taken from https://giphy.com)

Recently, I started a post about this on another writing site, and someone made a good point. They said that diversity isn’t limited to skin color, but also includes personality.

Many of you already know this, but one of my goals as a writer is to write black female characters as the protagonists. I’ve already started that with Elena, and I have a new character, Jada.

First, I’m curious to know if you have any diverse characters in your story. Second, how do you feel about “forced diversity”? Another issue with diversity is forced diversity. To explain further, forced diversity has diverse characters just for the sake of it.

Many writers feel that forced diversity doesn’t work, but how do you feel?

When we write our stories, we need to consider the setting, timeline, and the theme we’re trying to show. For our work to be believable, we need to write it as realistic as possible. Of course, with fantasy, you have some more wiggle room, but you still want to consider your readers.

I think for diversity in stories, we also need to determine our audience. In the US, there’s a lot of room for diversity in stories, but can we really expect the same for countries outside of the western world? For example, think of Japan. Growing up and even now, I love anime, but alas, there aren’t many black female characters in their stories. But of course, that makes sense given the country. Should we hold other countries to the same diverse expectation?

I know this post is short for today, but I wanted to make this more of a discussion post. Personally, I didn’t want to do a post on how to write diverse characters, as I feel that’s understood. However, if anyone wants a post like that later, please let me know. From what I’ve seen, agents are looking for diverse books, at least on Twitter, anyway.

To get the discussion started, please post your answers to the questions below:

  •  Do you include diversity in your stories?

  • How do you feel about “forced diversity”?

  • Should we hold other countries to the same diverse expectation?

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Diversity in Fiction

      • You’re welcome!

        I also have two male characters (in the same story) who turned out to be gay. It was one of those things I wasn’t planning on. It just happened in the writing. It surprised me, but I was like *shrugs* “Okay. Let’s see what happens.”

        And, honestly? It’s been a lot of fun writing them. They have both been totally clueless in their own separate ways.

        It’s been a slow build to get the one guy to realize and accept that yes. He is in love with another guy. Of course, I had to separate them to make that happen. 😉

        Like

  1. I like to think I have a diverse range of characters. Dabbling in fantasy, this is usually expressed through the different races as well as traditions etc. I have characters that are half-orcs/orcs that based in the desert, so I try to incorporate Arabian traditions and clothing etc.
    However, I’m also am a firm believer that writers usually write from what they know, which is why a lot of writers don’t tend to dabble in a lot of diverse or ethnic characters. I mean personally, I wouldn’t write about a native-American, etc. character, simply because I am personally not from those sort of cultures. It’s not because I’m not interested in them or greatly respect them, it’s just that to accurately and respectfully write about a character of that background I’d have to do a lot of research and consulting. When a writer writes or gains inspiration, it can be from a range of things, but naturally, it usually is obtained from the culture and life that they are surrounded by. I think some writers force a character’s diverse background so that they can gain the ‘diverse’ tag on their writing but they fail to accurately portray that diverse character.
    I love to read about characters from a range of backgrounds, countries, etc., but that doesn’t mean I would just go out and write one of those characters ‘just because’ if I did it’s because I want to enjoy the research and learning about how the character would actually live. But I think it’s up to the individual writing it in the end whether they feel they can honourably write such diverse characters. 🙂
    A real post for thought! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the thing people need to keep in mind is that diversity refers to so much more than just ethnicity: it’s sexuality, body type, disability, mental health, faith, etc.

    Even in cases of homogeneous nations, there’s still diversity present and it’s always important. No place is populated by only thin, white, beautiful, able-bodied straight people, right? So, unless a story’s plot calls for an entire population made up of thin, white, beautiful, able-bodied straight people, having that be the default isn’t very realistic.

    I cringe at the term “forced diversity”. It feels like a cop out. In my opinion, the only time diversity is “forced” is when the author doesn’t take the time to properly research the perspective they’re trying to represent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, diversity is everything. Character personalities, mindsets and even the way they act. Not all need to be sane and some can be as unique as they can be.

    Well, I’m working on including as much diversity as I can, and when I can. And I mostly focus on personality and culture, as I do not think that the race they are born in with determine their personality.

    As for forced diversity, it is when the author throws in a token character which doesn’t impact the plot, or even affect it that much. Just ensures that there is diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I strongly agree that character personality is part of diversity. For my own characters, I try to have diverse personalities for my leads. For example, I’m sooo over the sassy, strong, female type.

      I also agree with you about the forced diversity. When writers just put token characters into the mix without it affecting the plot, it just ensures having a diverse character.

      Like

      • I so agree, I don’t like them either and after a while it just gets boring. I prefer to deviate a little more than that into rarer kinds of personalities, or at least those that are different from the usual.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy diversity in fiction. It makes for interesting conflict when you bring people together that see the same situation in such different ways as a result of their upbringing and collected experiences. Writing it can be difficult. People tend to rely on stereotypes to bring in more diverse characters and then those characters fall flat, but I think it’s a worthwhile exercise. Whether every writer will become proficient at it is unlikely though.
    Now, if you draw from your own life to create a character with regard to their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, mental health, etc. you may be creating a character that is outside the mainstream, and therefore diverse, but it will also feel more genuine. And I think the push to have more diverse characters started with that in mind. To have people from every walk of life create characters to show those points of view. To have all these different perspectives (voices) represented. I don’t know if that necessarily means that it has to be in every book.
    In regard to whether we should expect other countries to be diverse in their characters, the very question implying we should mandate how a person tells a story caused me to cringe. So, I’d say no. Writing diverse characters might not be in every person’s skill set. Just as there are countries in the world that don’t have a lot of diversity, there are many places in the U.S. that don’t have a lot of diversity (think of rural areas). So it’d be hard for a writer in those areas without life experiences to draw on in order to successfully create those types of characters (although, their characters would probably be diverse from the mainstream as well). I don’t think the world needs a lot of hollow, diverse characters. It needs rich characters throughout the world of books where every type of person has at least a collection of books that they can relate to and connect with.
    Although, as Maggie indicates above, diversity can be added into a story in small, easy ways without every character being exactly the same. But I’m referring to the type of differences that would shift a person’s worldview.
    One day, Aka, I’ll leave a short comment. 😏 Okay, that’s probably not true.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Diversity of thought, culture and experience is great. It’s when people say that the color of your skin dictates those things that it starts to seem counter intuitive considering assuming people’s skin color determines those things is almost the definition of racism.

    Like

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