Writing PoC Characters

girl-647714_1280Isn’t she adorable? I found her picture while cruising websites for images to add to my blog, although I think she’ll be much more than that. I want her to be a character in a novel–something with a fairy-tale feel. Perhaps a retelling. It hasn’t quite gelled yet.

Writing PoC is tough when you’re as white as I am. I’m mostly of Irish/Swedish descent, and it doesn’t get much whiter than that. When I was a baby, people used to ask my mom if I was sick because they could see the veins in my face.

There’s a real fear of getting it wrong, that I’ll unintentionally say something offensive. But I’ve been reading a lot about how many people read in white skin as a default in stories, and those who aren’t Caucasian feel marginalized. Whoopi Goldberg stated in an interview that she wanted to be a part of Star Trek when the Next Generation came out, because it meant so much to her when she was younger and saw Nichelle Nichols playing Uhura.

My other problem is that as writers, it’s our job to torture our characters. Someone going through a terrible time is much more interesting that someone who’s cruising along with everything fine and dandy. And that means torturing a fictional person who’s a minority. I hate torturing characters anyway, but that adds an extra dimension of difficulty.

But the general line of thought is that as responsible artists, we should write PoC characters, so nobody’s left out anymore. Because the alternative is to continue to marginalize ethnic groups, and I’d hate to be a part of that.

Avid writer and reader, especially of fantasy. Learning about social networking and always interested in honing my writing skills. Contact me at cathleentownsend.com.

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