The people over at Writing Excuses seemed to have been timed the podcast on Writing the Other perfectly. I was in the midst of researching everything I needed to see get my main character right. And while I have only recently decided that I am going to do this in first person, I have known for a while that I needed to know more about the kind of person that I was writing and that just having a vague stereotypical woman in my head wasn’t going to be good enough. I wanted her and the other characters to ring true in this thing.
Writing the other becomes important for me as most of the people in Keep Austin Safe are unlike me in most ways.
Now for those of you who don’t know, writing the other is a phrase used to describe just that, writing anyone other than those described like you. Essentially it’s all about trying to create non-stereotypical characters from backgrounds different than your own. Sounds easy, right?
Well it’s more complex than one might think. There’s a serious lack of this in say, High Fantasy, where we have whole races of characters who seem to be exactly alike. We’re rarely shown any other representation of a Dwarf besides the typical thing, for instance (This is also a huge problem in table top gaming). A lot of the time in fantasy or High Fantasy the problem really lies with the fact that there is just one of that race in the main cast. When more of them show up their personality kind of reflects the original one.
The thing is that I decided early on, way before most of other things, that if permitted by the setting and time, I wanted to make my books diverse. I want to feature people of different sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, genders and the like. So far it’s working out well and I do my work not to shove it down your throat like some kind of lesson. But I don’t want anyone to be able to look at this work and think that someone they can relate to in some way on some level is missing.