Sunday, August 2, 2015

Research Tool: Writing Outside of your Diversity

We Need Diverse Books™team members Miranda Paul and Nicola Yoon presented an enormously informational session on writing outside of your own diversity. Paul, who is married to a black African man, wished for more books featuring characters that looked like her biracial family—particularly when her daugher questioned why so many books featuring characters that looked like her were about slavery. Yoon also comes from a biracial family and shared her concern. Here are a few things to think about when writing outside of your own race, background, experience:

• Honest Reflection. 
Consider your own motivations, biases, ignorances for writing a particular story. What is your connection to the topic?

• Collaborate
Identity experts with whom you might work with or co-author a book. They can help you to realize things you didn't realize you don't know. 

• Observe
Make research trips, take notes, watch, listen (Cavet: You are still an outsider at this phase)

Be honest with your reader, explain literary choices, share your research process, extend beyond the book

• Tell the truth
Write characters, not caricatures. If you’re writing a stereotype, you’re not telling the truth. All Asians are not good with math. All black girls aren’t sassy. People are complicated, create complex characters. Know what makes your character tick— What do they love? What do they want

• Diversify your life
Include more types of people in your own life, it will not only make you a better writer, it will make you a better person.

For more information, see the We Need Diverse Books™ website.

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