Happy New Year to all our readers.
Writing diversity is a subject near and dear to my heart. I’ve learned so much in writing characters of diverse backgrounds.
My first few attempts at writing an ethnic character came with a shock. There was unconscious bias in my vocabulary.
“Me?” I replied.
“How?” I asked with surprise permeating every anxious cell in my body.
Thank heavens for writing groups and rich resources on the web.
First, kudos to my most amazing writing critique group. They are the most talented and supportive people I’ve ever run into. Over the years I’ve been in more than a few groups and my current set of fabulous fellow writers exceeds them all.
As a fantasy writer, I often develop my characters with the backgrounds of mythology and folklore which I wish to include in my story. I love them dearly.
Some of my characters are prejudiced both knowingly and unknowingly. That is often part of the tension and conflict in the story and I will often guide those characters to the growth I’d like to see reflected in the world around me.
So, the question became how could I, who is desperately trying to enlighten my diverse set of characters, be showing unconscious bias?
A lot of it comes down to random adjectives still employed in our current language. Some of it comes from reading older books and not realizing some of the conventional tropes of description have changed for the better.
Next week I will write about how to proof your writing for those biases and steps to culturally educate yourself.