27 episodes

How do we write diverse characters in fiction? What are the do’s and don’ts of writing race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, origin, ability, age, appearance, and so on?

Join Bethany A. Tucker and Mariëlle S. Smith as they explore why representation matters and how we, as writers and editors, can do better.

Doing Diversity in Writing Bethany A. Tucker & Mariëlle S. Smith

    • Fiction
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

How do we write diverse characters in fiction? What are the do’s and don’ts of writing race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, origin, ability, age, appearance, and so on?

Join Bethany A. Tucker and Mariëlle S. Smith as they explore why representation matters and how we, as writers and editors, can do better.

    DDW - S3 Ep03 - Writing Women We Want to Read - Part 2

    DDW - S3 Ep03 - Writing Women We Want to Read - Part 2

    In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about writing better female characters. This is the second part of a two-part episode on the topic.

     

    Here’s what we talk about:

    Words and descriptions to avoid when describing women
    Words and description to deeply consider before using them
    Gendered words to avoid or consider when writing about women
    The ridiculous misconceptions there are about the female body and how to describe the body and bodily functions right
    How the (male) author’s Point of View can skew descriptions and characterizations of female characters
    Making sure your own POV won’t get in the way of your female characters’ POVs
    Some final thoughts about the “strong female character” and how we should expand our definition of “strong”



    And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

     

    “In response to boob plate” by Sam the Sword: https://samanthaswords.tumblr.com/post/62968403257/in-response-to-boob-plate
    “Women are sharing how little the men in their lives know about reproduction” by Brittany Wong: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/women-are-sharing-how-little-the-men-in-their-lives-know-about-reproduction_l_627e8906e4b0eb0f0711cb80
    Tweet by Sabrinafon about her ex boyfriend’s beliefs about periods: https://twitter.com/Sabrinafon/status/1521981744668454913
    Alice Oseman’s work: https://aliceoseman.com/
    Kana Akatsuki’s Violet Evergarden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Evergarden
    “21 words we ONLY use to describe women” by Nadia Khan: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/21-words-we-use-only-describe-women-nadia-khan/
    “Shrill, mumsy, bossy…” by Roshan McArthur: https://togetherband.org/blogs/news/words-that-describe-women
    “11 words we need to stop using to describe women” by Suzannah Weiss: https://www.bustle.com/articles/150273-11-words-we-need-to-stop-using-to-describe-women-because-housewife-doesnt-capture-anyones-job
    “Everyday misogyny: 122 subtly sexist words about women (and what to do about them) by thaliakr: http://sacraparental.com/2016/05/14/everyday-misogyny-122-subtly-sexist-words-women/
    “7 words you should avoid using about women in the workplace” by Hayley Gleeson: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-01/words-you-should-avoid-using-about-women-in-the-workplace/7467848
    “Don’t say I’m ‘dramatic’” by Jessica Bennett: https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/feminist-fight-club/almost-z-list-words-avoid-when-talking-about-women-sexist-language
    “Half of Brits don’t know where the vagina is – and it’s not just the men” by Victoria Waldersee: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/health/articles-reports/2019/03/08/half-brits-dont-know-where-vagina-and-its-not-just
    “I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead” by Brit Marling: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/brit-marling-women-movies.html
    Bethany’s Editing Your Novel's Structure: Tips, Tricks, and Checklists to Get You From Start to Finish: https://theartandscienceofwords.com/new-book-for-authors/

     

    This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/06/30/s3e3 

     

    Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

     

    As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

     

    Website: https://representationmatters.art

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHfIaeylIgbAWVy3E66lmw

    • 1 hr 16 min
    DDW - S3 Ep 02 - Writing Women We Want to Read

    DDW - S3 Ep 02 - Writing Women We Want to Read

    In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about writing better female characters. This is the first part of a two-part episode on the topic.

     

    Here’s what we talked about:

    That, in the US, women are estimated to buy 70–80% of fiction books
    There are way more male than female leads in children’s books
    That novels, on average and across the board, only have one female character to four male characters
    But that many readers FEEL like there are way more female protagonists these days than there are male protagonists 
    That women writers also have a tendency to write male characters, and that women are not exempt from perpetuating problematic female representations
    What kind of roles women tend to have in fiction
    A selection of tropes to avoid or seriously consider when writing female characters
    Some of the most persistent narrative structures that disempower and/or harm women
    Why it is important to write female characters better, even if books with badly written women are selling well 



    And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

     

    “How many books per year do Americans read?” by Jamie Ballard: https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2018/08/14/reading-books-men-women
    “Gender in twentieth-century children’s books” by Janice McCabe: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241647875_Gender_in_Twentieth-Century_Children%27s_Books
    “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World, Even in a Pandemic Year: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top U.S. Films of 2021” by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen: https://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2021-Its-a-Mans-Celluloid-World-Report.pdf  
    “Women Buy Fiction in Bulk and Publishers Take Notice” by Trip Gabriel: https://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/17/business/women-buy-fiction-in-bulk-and-publishers-take-notice.html
    “AI study finds that males are represented four times more than females in literature” by Maya Abu-Zahra: https://viterbischool.usc.edu/news/2022/04/ai-study-finds-that-males-are-represented-four-times-more-than-females-in-literature/
    “Male leads in fiction sell 10 million more books on average than female leads” by Kelly Jensen: https://bookriot.com/male-leads-in-fiction/
    “A new study shows that girls write fewer female characters as they get older” by Walker Caplan: https://lithub.com/a-new-study-shows-that-girls-write-fewer-female-characters-as-they-get-older/
    RWBY TV Series: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3066242/
    “The Problem with Female Protagonists” by Jo Eberhardt: https://writerunboxed.com/2016/08/06/the-problem-with-female-protagonists/
    “Discussion Time: Why are there More Female Protagonists than Male?” by Beth: https://readingeverynight.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/discussion-time-why-are-there-more-female-protagonists-than-male/
    7 Figure Fiction by T. Taylor: https://7figurefiction.com/
    “It is time to kill the cool girl trope” by Raha Murtuza: https://thermtide.com/14279/popular/it-is-time-to-kill-the-cool-girl-trope/
    Gone Girl – Cool Girl: https://youtu.be/0o4heKCLeTs
    “Name That Trope: She’s hot! She’s cool! She’s one of the guys!” by Kelsey Wallace: https://www.bitchmedia.org/post/name-that-trope-the-super-hot-bro-girl
    How to Write About Sexual Assault: An Incomplete Guide by Salt and Sage Books: https://www.amazon.com/How-Write-About-Sexual-Assault-ebook/dp/B08DHHN82D 
    Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41104077-invisible-women 
    How NOT to Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41739262-how-not-to-write-female-characters
    “10 MORE SEXIST Tropes in Science Fiction and Fantasy” by DZA: https://youtu.be/oiooafKkVMI
    “I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead” by Brit Marling: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/brit-marling-women-movies.html
    “10 Best Tips for Writing Strong Female Characters” by

    • 1 hr 8 min
    DDW - S3 Ep01 – How to Write Hair and Head Coverings

    DDW - S3 Ep01 – How to Write Hair and Head Coverings

    In this first episode of Season 3 of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—discuss how to write hair and head coverings.  

     

    Here’s what we talk about:

    That hair, hair care, and head coverings are often ethnically dictated and gendered
    That there is no such thing as “ethnic” hair: we all have ethnicity!
    How to describe different natural hair colors
    How to describe different hair textures
    Whether dreadlocks are cultural appropriation
    Who wears wigs and weaves, and for what reason
    That head coverings for men and women come into play in many ways that go beyond religion and what one’s culture dictates 
    How you can use descriptions of hair and head coverings to add layers to your POV characters 



    And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

    “Untangling the Symbolism of Art History’s Most Famous Redheads” by Sarah Dotson: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-untangling-symbolism-art-historys-famous-redheads 
    “Seeing red: why we need to be sensitive about using the word ‘ginger’” by David Marsh: https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2014/jan/24/mind-your-language-red-hair 
    “3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Address Redheads As ‘Gingers’” by Kali Hanson: https://www.howtobearedhead.com/3-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-address-redheads-as-gingers 
    “Writing About Hair: The Thick and Thin of Descriptions” by Sharla Rae: https://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/07/writing-about-hair-the-thick-and-thin-of-descriptions 
    “The East Asian women + colored hair trope” by Jess: https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/post/101115852994/the-east-asian-women-colored-hair-trope-an 
    “The Ultimate Black & Natural Hair Glossary” by Joanna Samuels: https://afrocenchix.com/blogs/afrohair/the-ultimate-black-natural-hair-glossary 
    How to Write Black Characters by Salt and Sage Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087ZSJ9BN 
    “Dear white people with dreadlocks: Some things to consider” by Emanuella Grinberg: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/31/living/white-dreadlocks-cultural-appropriation-feat/index.html 
    “Once in a Lifetime: The village of Huang Luo in China’s Guangxi Region is famous for the dramatically long hair worn by its female residents” by Linn Yaeger: https://www.vogue.com/projects/13548460/women-of-huang-luo-china-long-hair-tradition 
    “Niqab, How Does It Work? | THE BASICS, how to wear the niqab” by Niqabi Nextdoor: https://youtu.be/KAbsPFS8gus 
    “What are the differences between a niqab, a chador, an abaya, a burkha and a hijab?”: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-a-niqab-a-chador-an-abaya-a-burkha-and-a-hijab 
    “Women’s safety clothing not fit for purpose” by Matthew Gunther: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/womens-safety-clothing-not-fit-for-purpose/1010138.article 
    “Employers Exposed When Women’s Safety Equipment Doesn’t Fit” by Fatima Hussein and Jaclyn Diaz: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/safety/employers-exposed-when-womens-safety-equipment-doesnt-fit 
    Tina from Glee: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1327801/characters/nm3206118 
    Mako Mori from Pacific Rim: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1663662/characters/nm0452860 
    GoGo Tomago from Big Hero 6: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2245084/characters/nm1512166 
    Einayim Petukhoth or Eyes Wide Open: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1424327
    Unorthodox: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9815454 
    Crazy Rich Asians: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988 
    Steel Magnolias: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098384 
    Luke Cage: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3322314 
    Barbershop: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303714 
    Coming to America: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094898 
    The Boondocks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7Mly_Zj6gg
    Hair Love: https://youtu.be/kNw8V_Fkw28 
    Tamora Pierce’s work: https://www.tamora-pierce.net 
    Mulan: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120762 
    V for Vendetta: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409 
    The Boys: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11906

    • 1 hr 24 min
    DDW - S2 Ep12 - Using Racial Slurs, Acknowledging Characters’ Racial History, and Other End of Season Thoughts

    DDW - S2 Ep12 - Using Racial Slurs, Acknowledging Characters’ Racial History, and Other End of Season Thoughts

    In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—bring our season on Race and Ethnicity to an end by delving into some lingering some questions. 

     

    What we talked about

    If and how to use racial slurs in our writing
    When and how to acknowledge our characters’ racial history
    Whether authors are allowed to write POV characters belonging to a different community
    Co-writing with BIPOC authors as a white author
    The representation of Asian masculinity in Western media
    Being accused of being too political when including a diverse cast in our books
    How to make your cast more diverse when your characters aren’t human



    (Re)sources mentioned on the show

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe: https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Timeline 
    The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon: https://www.nps.gov/ocmu/index.htm 
    Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9376612 
    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528 
    Crazy Rich Asians: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988 
    Nora Phoenix’s White House Men series: https://noraphoenix.com/my-books/ 
    Finding Nemo: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266543 
    Mariëlle’s 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner: https://mswordsmith.nl/journal

     

    This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/04/07/s2e12

     

    Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

     

    As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

     

    Website: https://representationmatters.art

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHfIaeylIgbAWVy3E66lmw 

    • 1 hr
    DDW S2 Ep11 – Writing Interracial and Intercultural relationships

    DDW S2 Ep11 – Writing Interracial and Intercultural relationships

    In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—scratch the surface of an incredibly broad topic: writing interracial and intercultural relationships. 

     

    What we talked about

    That writing relationships between characters of different races and cultures is really not that different from writing relationships between characters who are not exactly the same for other reasons
    Questions to ask yourself and things to keep in mind when crafting interracial and intercultural relationships in your writing
    A ton of examples in which interracial and intercultural relationships are depicted well and convincingly



    (Re)sources mentioned on the show

    Payne Erskin’s The Mountain Girl: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11084308-the-mountain-girl 
    Disney’s Pocahontas: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114148 
    Stargate SG-1: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118480
    The Karate Kid (1984): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087538
    The Karate Kid (2010): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1155076
    Kim’s Convenience: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5912064
    Bend It Like Beckham: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286499
    Blinded by the Light: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8266310
    Sarfraz Mansoor’s Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion, and Rock N Roll: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001V7U6LE
    The Grand Budapest Hotel: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2278388
    Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give: https://angiethomas.com/the-hate-u-give
    Benjamin Alire Saenz’s The Inexplicable Logic of My Life: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23447923-the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-life
    Kim Dare’s Axel’s Pup: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21522467-axel-s-pup
    The Marvel Cinematic Universe: https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Timeline 
    Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series: https://shadowhunters.com
    Never Have I Ever: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10062292
    Bright: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5519340
    Bridgerton: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8740790 
    Young Royals: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14664414 
    Bethany’s Editing Your Novel's Structure: Tips, Tricks, and Checklists to Get You From Start to Finish: https://theartandscienceofwords.com/new-book-for-authors

     

    This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/03/29/s2e11 

     

    Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

     

    As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 


    Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art, on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting, and on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHfIaeylIgbAWVy3E66lmw

    • 1 hr 15 min
    DDW - S2 Ep10 - Naming Our Fictional Characters

    DDW - S2 Ep10 - Naming Our Fictional Characters

    In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about naming our fictional characters. 

     

    What we talked about

    General things to look out for when picking our characters’ names
    All the different aspects that might influence which names make sense for your characters
    Where to look for names
    How to verify whether these names are appropriate for your characters or not



    (Re)sources mentioned on the show

    Think Baby Names: http://www.thinkbabynames.com
    Behind the Name: https://www.behindthename.com
    Behind the Surname: https://surnames.behindthename.com
    Mariëlle’s 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner: https://mswordsmith.nl/journal

     

    This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/03/24/s2e10

     

    Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

     

    As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

     

    Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

     

    Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art, on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting, and on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHfIaeylIgbAWVy3E66lmw

    • 1 hr 6 min

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Roland Denzel ,

Eye opening in a gentle way

I've learned a lot about better ways to write characters that aren't like me.

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