On Writing Diverse Characters
by Writing Workshops Staff
A year ago
Even if you didn't read American Dirt in 2020 you likely heard about the book and the headline-grabbing controversy surrounding it. American Dirt spent 36 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. According to BookScan, it was the best-selling novel for adults published in 2020. Lila Shapiro has written an illuminating feature for New York Magazine called "Blurbed to Death," which you can read here. It tells the story of how one of publishing’s most hyped books became its biggest horror story — and still ended up a best seller.
Writing in the same magazine in 2019, Alexander Chee's essay interrogated the questions many writers are not asking when it comes to writing the “other." You can read Chee's article and see the three questions every writer should ask themselves before rendering otherness on the page.
As writers, it is up to us to get the details right in our work and to be honest about our motivations for telling a particular story. I'm glad we can contribute to this conversation by offering a 4-Week Online (Zoom) Workshop: Writing Diverse Characters led by Penguin author Abby Collette.
Diversity in books—from authorship to publishing—is in demand and is expected as it reflects the world we live in and the worlds we create on the page. Representation is important in writing and an integral part of crafting good narratives, and so is respect and sensitivity. Discussions in this workshop will help writers to move past stereotypes of race and ethnicity and learn how to include characters who are different from themselves in their work. In this class Abby will help you overcome the daunting task of developing diverse characters that are authentic and believable and how to build an inclusive story.