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The Stories We Tell

black and red typewriterI want the stories we tell to have diversity. So, it bothers me when writers are told they cannot write characters that do not look like them. I believe a writer should be able to write any character as long as the portrayal is genuine. If a writer’s characters are created from oversimplifications and delusions, people will criticize and denounce that work. I think we correct this arrogant way of writing by speaking to the falsehoods we read and allowing writers to learn and make changes. I want to read a love story about a couple falling in love and the man is deaf. This does not mean I expect the author to be deaf. I expect the story to depict a deaf man’s life. I want the stories we tell to have diversity.  So, it bothers me when a writer creates a story from a place of ignorance and laziness.  The job of a writer besides telling a good story is to make the story believable.  It cannot be believable if the story is filled with inaccuracies and stereotypes.  If people tell a writer their story may need some work because of sensitivity issues, a writer should listen.  If a writer goes on the defensive, the writing and reading public will conclude the writer understands their work is a problem but, does not care. No one will believe a writer does not see the issues.  And a side note: publishing world? If you want to stop hiring PR people to manage your bigotry, you might want to add some diversity to your companies.  And I’m not only talking about color. I want the stories we tell to have diversity, but we absolutely need to speak to the inaccurate portrayal of characters that look like us.  Authors and the publishing community should listen when we speak.  Yet, we should understand this is going to be a long process.  People have a hard time with change.  Especially when the change includes people admitting they cannot stay in their bubble.  The fight for authenticity in diversity is not an easy one and will require those with voices to speak.  It will also require those of us with stories to tell, to be open to the conversations.
Originally posted on November 8, 2020

Published by Cynt

Cynthia’s vivid imagination as a child is what started her writing. Everything became a story for her. The neighborhood she lived in, the people she met and even the people who lived in her head. Living the suburban life in Westchester County did not hinder the stories she wrote and the worlds she created. She traveled a little as a child, so suburbia wasn’t all she knew. Los Angeles, Alabama and New York City helped to shape the writer in her.

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3 Comments

  1. This is so important. I saw some tweets from authors that were told by traditional publishers to change authentic minority characters to fit stereotypes that sell, rather than genuine characters based on their own experiences within these communities. I felt this was so sad that they were still being boxed in even once represented. love indie books as there is a freedom there to tell your story your way. In recent years I’ve seen trad house looking to diversify which is positive to see. Have you any tips on finding sensitivity readers?

    1. I am really sad traditional publishers do not understand what most people want to read and do not understand how a non-white character should be portrayed. I had to address this topic on Twitter, because it is a constant topic of discussion and I’m tired of white, hetero writers being told they cannot write characters that do not look like them. It pisses me off. As for sensitivity readers, I know this is going to sound funny, but try writing communities in twitter and facebook. I have seen quite a few relationships started after people get to know each other. There are also sensitivity sites online. I would definitely talk to whoever you choose for a while, just to get a feel. Even ask them to give read a sample just to give you an idea of their work. Let me know if you have any other questions.💜

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