Monday, January 20, 2020

Forced Diversity

I saw a link to something the other day and the commentary that went with it, but I didn't follow the link, so I can't respond to anything but what the commentary indicated.  And to what seems to be a thing in the writing community.  Diversity in fiction.  Apparently at the end of the link was a thing advocating forcing diversity in fiction. 

Umm, yah.

I don't know about other writers, but I pretty much let the characters tell me who they are.  I mean, at the beginning of Fertile Ground, Teri walks into a meeting where a big black guy is getting the go-ahead to investigate a case that might not be a case.  When it came time to write another SCIU book, the guy stepped in front and demanded I write his book and thus came Ned Washington in Early Grave.  I like Ned.  He was fun to write.  (And if you haven't read it yet, he pairs up nicely with Lynn from Dying Embers.)

The idea for a, if not bad certainly annoying, guy in Wish in One Hand came from mixing Othello up a bit and making Iago the Moor.  Later in the series, Hans is gay because it was an interesting juxtaposition to Frank.  Then there are the twins, who are black because white Nubian princesses would be weird.  And, naturally Ezekiel ben Aron is Hebrew, modeled after an Israeli guy I knew.

All of the characters in Accidental Death are white except for the librarian, mainly because in a small town in Colorado, that's about the ratio you get.  There might be gay people in there, but their sexual preferences weren't germane to the story.  In my opinion, it rarely is.

In both of my dystopian novels, I don't think I even describe race.  It's just not important to the story.  It doesn't matter because whoever you are, you're going to get screwed if those futures come to fruition.

Gah, just writing this post, trying to pinpoint which characters might check the diversity boxes made my head hurt.  I don't write them that way.  I don't think that way.  I'm more of an 'each individual is who they are inside' kind of person.  Good and rational comes in every color, shape, size, etc.  Evil and irrationality comes in every wrapping, too.

The point is that of course you should pepper your stories with different characters.  Because it adds seasoning and makes things interesting in your story.  Not because you're ticking off a bunch of boxes in the social justice pamphlet.  Definitely not because some twerp somewhere has a checklist they're comparing to every piece of fiction written, praising those that adhere and damning those that don't. 

Stop thinking about it and focus on writing the best story you know how.  The diversity will come if you do that.  If you force it, it will only hurt the story because readers can tell when something is forced.  And the story is really the most important part, right?


  1. Don't even get me started. But yeah, it comes down to focusing on the story and writing the best one you can. I...nope. Not gonna. The rant would be long and ugly and it's Monday and I don't want indigestion for the whole week.

    And saved by the Storm. He just brought me his "instructions" for building a ramp for his RC police truck--complete with a hand-drawn picture of supplies--a hammer, 4 nails, 3 boxes, and an L-shaped thingy made of two pieces of wood.

    Write the story and the characters as the story and the characters dictate, not some nebulouys "they" who are most likely TSTL anyway. 😜

  2. I agree entirely. Check the boxes is a dumb way to write. Story follows the characters, who fall from the setting. Diversity is good; forcing it makes for a paint-by-number novel. /Grumble