Outside Posts Brought Home: #Diversity and Writing the Neutral that Never Was

Color PencilsSo, one of the fun things about writing a novel, and part of the promotion of it, is getting the opportunity to guest post on other people’s blogs.  And lately, I’ve had some amazing opportunities to meet some fabulous people. Of course, the down side of that is that I find I don’t always have as much time to blog on my own website.  However, I recently put together a post on author Anne E. Johnson‘s site that I would love to highlight here.

The subject:  Diversity and Writing the Neutral that Never Was

The post is in some ways inspired by a recent article by Valerie Alexander titled: World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport’s Most Dominant Players: Women

I thought she made some very good points and poignantly hit the reader in his/her assumptions. :-)  But I wanted bring it into the writing realm.

We’re taught to think to the default and that default is white, male, and heterosexual.

A great example via Valerie Alexander: In the World Cup, commentators regularly referred to Landon Donovan as the “all-time U.S. leading goal scorer.” He has 57 international goals. Abby Wambach has 167. The second highest scorer is Mia Hamm at 158 and Kristine Lilly at 130. Notice something? They’re all women. When we talk and think about the sport, the “neutral” is men’s.

So what does that mean when we write characters?  Authors don’t want be told they have to include diversity. Many complain that we’re encouraging tokenism and check-boxes.  At the same time, not doing anything, is saying something.  It is writing to the default, and that default isn’t neutral.

Writing a book set in another part of the world with characters of a different ethnicity in “Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn” was a conscious effort to try and escape that kind of limited thinking. In some ways, I think we didn’t quite push far enough and in others, I think we were more successful than we ever anticipated.

Check out the full post at Jester Harley’s Manuscript Page.