Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for International

People talk about it all the time--showing ethnic diversity in your writing--but do we do it?  Maybe it's just the books I'm reading (mostly YA paranormal and dystopian), but I don't see a whole lot of melding in the stories.  

Think about your own WIPs.  Does your MC always reflect your own mirror image?  How about the supporting cast of characters?  Is it because you don't know enough about other ethnicities to feel comfortable writing about them?

I can understand that in a way.  We want to be true to reality and we're always told to write what we know.  But sometimes the richer, deeper story is gotten through stepping out of our comfort zones and researching someone else's life.

My stories often reflect the world I've lived in--which, thankfully, has been very diverse.  ELEMENTAL, for instance, is very ethnically diverse because it reflects many of my experiences from traveling around the world.  And also because my MC travels from one planet to another very different planet.

Keeping my works internationally inclined is just the way I like to write.  It's also what I like to read.

So what about your own tastes?  Do you like to keep your writing diverse?  Or do you feel comfortable sticking with what you know personally?

~ELEMENTAL's release date has been set for June 21st!  Help me celebrate by picking up the code for the counter in the page above!  :)~

~Need more books?  Check out the two contests I have going on by clicking on the page titled Super-duper Contests of Awesome!~


  1. OH! Excellent topic! I've never stepped into this zone and now you have me wondering why I don't. I think it's like you said, I'm comfortable writing what I know. I should be more diverse!


  2. Most of the time, I'm NOT diverse, but the last couple of novels I've had characters besides White Like Me. Trying to remedy that imbalance. :)

  3. Lee from Warrior-Monks is Asian, African, and European, and the rest of the kids are pretty diverse too. I wanted to represent more than one culture, in the hopes of reaching more than one kind of reader.

  4. Right now, I'm pretty vanilla in my writing, but once I get a few of my stories finished, I may try some different cultures. It's still a "white" region, but some of the German folklore has been calling me. I have a half finished troll story using ancient Germanic and Scandinavian settings, lore, and cultures.

    Maybe sometime in the future, I'll try to go more diverse, but if I try to write one for the sake of writing one, it'll be flat. But even though I haven't been inspired to write any ethnically diverse stories yet, I do read them. I just read and enjoyed a couple of them two weeks ago. One had a Japanese influence while the other had an Indian influence. I posted reviews of them up on my blog. Toads And Diamonds was especially amazing.

  5. The sequel I'm working on involves another race besides the Cassans, so is intergalactic good enough?
    And if you do a virtual tour for your book this summer, I'd be happy to host you, Emily!

  6. Great topic. I try to have diversity in my novels, too :)

  7. ooh, I talked about this in the interview I gave to Arlee Bird recently how writers should keep in mind whether they want to be local or international because it usually depends upon that choice whether they will be worldwide writers or not.

  8. I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
    Go to and pick up your award.

  9. When I first started writing, I stuck to MCs with my own stats--race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. But as I have become more comfortable, I've started to explore different backgrounds more. Now I love writing out of my race and gender, and my novels are better because of it.

  10. long comment coming in your email.

    1.) i believe we really need to do our research when writing diverse characters. race, religion, creed, orientation, etc, really effect so much about a person... so the diversity must not simply be cosmetic.

    2.) i believe diversity is beautiful. and i include it where it is appropriate.

    3.) i believe that you should write the characters who belong in your story. i think diversity for diversity's sake does nothing.

    4.) i really truly believe that diversity of personality and belief is more important than any kind of cosmetic diversity.

    5.) i believe that if you do your best and show respect to the people you write of, that is the best you can do. i don't think that white writers should only write white characters. or that gay writers should only write gay characters. someone will always claim you fell short... because there is not a single person you can understand completely- not even yourself. there are always subconscious actions, filters of individuality, nuances of soul... so many variables. it is impossible to ever write characters that will placate every single reader- and i don't think that's the target i want as a writer, anyhow.

    6.) i've just read like four blogs in a row about this subject and my head is swimming.

    and shoot! this was long anyway... forget the comment in the email... sorry for the discombobulated ranting...

  11. Congrats on the release date!
    I guess I haven't been very diverse in the characters I've used. Something to think about. Great post.

  12. Heidi--And the research can be so much fun, too!

    Jaleh--That is sooo true about forcing it. You definitely don't want to do that.

    I need to find some more ethnically diverse stories. It seems like all the books I've been reading lately are starting to be the same story just told a different way. You know the one: plain-looking white girl with spunk or a good heart attracts rebel without a cause (or rebel with a cause that will get her killed, but oh how she loves him anyway).


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