Last week I mentioned twitter pitch contests. One of the link/resources featured some drama regarding some perceived racial discrimination during a pitch contest. I don’t have any info about that but was intrigued by an article posted by a literary agency. White Writers: Don’t Write Diverse Books. Instead, Read Them.
Getting outside your own point of view is a great exercise in writing–and it goes beyond just race. Write outside your own gender or species even! As a matter of pure exercise I wrote Piano of the Damned to do exactly that. As an Evangelical Christian youth pastor I put myself in the shoes of a gay pianist with mafia ties in the 1940s.
I don’t put much stock in “white privilege” arguments (we’re all messed up human beings and just in different ways) and do my best to live life with race-blindness. (I’ll refrain from talking specifics about my fairly diverse family and friendships as that has somehow become a part of white privilege, too.) Still, the advice in Upstart Crow’s blog is good.
“The best story you can tell is your own story, one that speaks the truth about your experiences. One that translates your triumphs and failures into an unforgettable character.”
Tell your story from your POV in the human condition, but don’t be too scared to write characters from different points of view, too. Don’t skimp on the research–if you have a black character or asian one find a friend with that background and get some feedback. Just remember, our humanity is the primary thing that binds us together. Use that well and everything will take on an air of authenticity.