Posted in Character Development, Writing

How To Write Diverse Characters and Why You Should Include Them

We’re all human, big or small, white or black. We all occupy this earth, we’re all in this together.

So, what would make your novel any different?

A diverse character is a character just like any other. Don’t write them differently because it’s something new. Don’t view them as special because you’ve added them into the story.

Just include them.

how-to-diverse-characters

Why should you include diverse characters?

  • We all want to see ourselves in stories. We want to be one with the protagonist, go on an adventure, save the world, and just escape reality for a little while.
  • It’s important for everyone to feel included. Everyone should be represented, everyone’s voices should be heard.
  • It also gives people an open mind. They recognize there are others out there who are like them and who are not like them. They feel as though they are not alone.
  • Don’t be afraid to write these characters. You may offend some people, not intentionally, but remember that people view things differently. Just do your research and do your best.
  • And, I don’t mean to get political on my blog, but with the way the world is now, we all need to come together and act as one now more than ever.

How do you write a diverse character?

I’ll admit that most of my characters are white, but that’s because that’s what I know. I know the mannerisms, the accents, the culture, and background. So, how am I supposed to write as anyone else?

Research

There are so many resources on the internet. Tumblr is a huge one, as a matter of fact. Tumblr, Pinterest, and even just Googling things give you a tremendous amount of resources at the edge of your fingertips. From various voices and accents to describing skin color and other physical descriptions, various cultures, and religions, and so much more. Just know what you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to search for it.

Talk about it

I’m sure you all have friends that come from different backgrounds than you. Study their mannerisms, ask them about their culture. Don’t be afraid to want to know more, to understand more about them.

Read

You’ve all heard of books, right? Look up books that center a protagonist that’s similar to yours and learn how that author pulled it off. Brush up on your history, as well, depending on what time period you’re writing in.

Remember, it’s one thing to add in diverse characters, but it’s another thing to add them in and actually portray them correctly.

But wait, there’s more!

What is a diverse character, exactly? So far I’ve basically just mentioned skin color and the like. But there are so many other types of people out there.

Diverse characters can include various:

  • Races
  • Ethnicities
  • Classes
  • LGBTQ
  • Medical disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Mental disabilities

And I’m sure there’s a lot more that I’m missing. (Seriously, if I’m missing anything, let me know and I’ll add it.)

Give your characters, give your novel, variety. The world is a mixing cup and we have to stir it up. (And that, my friends, is from a song we sing in my preschool classroom.)

Do you include diverse characters in your novels? How do you do it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

25 thoughts on “How To Write Diverse Characters and Why You Should Include Them

  1. Once again, really useful information. I’m actually working on quite a diverse cast of characters for my novel as well, which led me to read up and look at cultures and people I normally wouldn’t even bother looking at. Peripherals. It’s refreshing when a book actually includes diversity and not forced diversity.
    I know I’ve been more inclined to write about white characters. It’s what I see in movies, series and books. It seems to be the “norm”. I’m being more intentional about diversity now.
    Great post!

    1. Thank you.
      Pretty much all of my characters are white, too, because that’s what I am, that’s what I know, and that’s what I see. I think most people push diversity aside because they’re afraid of offending something because it’s hard to describe people with different skin colors and accents and such. But it’s really no different than describing a white person.

  2. This information is so very true. I’ve thought about this topic all while not thinking about it. The closest I’ve come to making unique characters with diversity is by having witches and werewolves in my first series. I always want to try to include different races or ever other age groups but I was always more afraid I would mess it up terribly. But with my latest novel I’ve done a lot of work to get things correct, so I’m starting to make better characters. It’s fun learning about different things, too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think most people are afraid of messing it up or offending someone. But experimenting is good and I think it helps humans understand other humans better and that’s what we need in this world.
      Thank you, now I just have to practice what I preach. 😉

  3. My characters are sketchy. They’re not hero’s or leaders. They drink too much, and make all the wrong decisions. But they keep trying and forging ahead.
    Oddly enough, the character that is the biggest disaster is a readers favourite.
    Thanks for the great article.

  4. I would definitely recommend talking to people from different backgrounds before including a character. The thing is, I come across very few Indian characters or characters of Indian origin in the books I read. Then again it might be because I’m not reading the “right” books.
    However, a lot of American and British TV shows like to portray such characters and I mostly find them stereotypical and annoying. I think actually interacting with people of colour (or from any other diverse group, actually) would give an authentic touch to the character.

    1. I agree. Then you can hear the accents, understand their culture, ask questions about their holidays and such. It’s much more authentic, like you said. That’s a good way of saying it.

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