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Missus Akasha
05-13-2013, 04:31 PM
I am an aspiring YA fiction writer with a passion of writing black female characters as my leads. However, I also am a magnet towards negativity because of this. Currently, I am writing a paranormal story set in La Belle Epoque era in Paris involving exorcisms, demons, angels, and dark magic. My lead character is American with her birth town being New Orleans. She is the product of a placage between a Creole woman and a white French planation owner. From the start of the story, she has been in Paris for several years now living with her deceased mother's older brother.

Everyone that I have let read what I have written so far loves it. However, their love is laced with worry. For instance:

"This could really be a bestseller if you changed Aubrey to white girl."

"Aubrey is 3/4 white and 1/4 black. She is practically white anyway. It's not like changing her race will alter the storyline. Just make her the product of an affair between a white commoner woman and a French plantation owner."

"Nobody wants to read about a mixed girl trying to help save the world. Just make her white. Let's face it: pretty white girls sell."

"I doubt there were lots of black people trotting around Paris back then. Let's try and be realistic. Make her white."

"No literary agent or publishing company will want this because Aubrey is black. It's jacked up, but it's true."

I try not to let these comments hinder me from finishing this WIP, but I wonder if there is some kind of true to it. I go to bookstores and look at the YA genre aisle. All I see is pretty white faces staring back at me on book covers. All books with POC leads are segregated into different aisles such as "African American fiction", "Asian fiction," and "Hispanic fiction." Even if the book falls within the realm of YA.

The books with POC leads and POC book-covers are very, very slim. Or the book cover is white-washed to hide the fact that the main character is POC.

I have honestly only read two books with lead female black characters in fantasy/paranormal genre: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves and the Vampire Huntress books by LA Banks. The former being in YA, my specialty.

Do you think there is some true to the statement in the title?

clee984
05-13-2013, 05:33 PM
"I doubt there were lots of black people trotting around Paris back then. Let's try and be realistic.

This is the one that struck me. Why is the character in France? A young lady of mixed race probably would stand out in fin de siecle Paris. However, so long as she isn't hobnobbing with the upper class types (and if she is, I'd be sure to mention that she is an exception to the norm), I don't see any problem with it or any reason to change her ethnicity.

Missus Akasha
05-13-2013, 06:01 PM
She is in Paris because her uncle lives there. He was sent there in his early twenties for a better life. I actually have an ancestor that did that. So I am basing it off of that. After her mother dies, he gains custody of her and brings her to France. It's fantasy. Her uncle and the organization have quite a respectable name. She works for the same organization too. There will be mentions of people being iffy towards her because of her race, but that's it.

I've done my research and there were a few of black people in the La Belle Époque era in Paris (my ancestors included). It wasn't exactly uncommon. So in a sense, it wouldn't be unrealistic. I guess what frustrates me about that statement is that it seems as though there were no black people at all back then in Europe and that is simply not true. One of the most famous writers of those times was actually of African descent and he lived in France.

Cramp
05-13-2013, 06:20 PM
My question is; who is telling you these things? Are they publishing professionals? Agents and editors and the like?

Myrealana
05-13-2013, 06:38 PM
Most of that criticism seems silly to me.

The character is who she is. Her background certainly must inform her present in some ways, so "just making her white" is a stupid suggestion.

Yes, it's true that "pretty white girls" sell, but that will never change so long as people only write about pretty white girls that sell. There was a time when action stories had to be about boys - until someone realized girls can be heroes too.

I say don't write what sells. Write what you want to tell.

Rachel Udin
05-13-2013, 10:22 PM
This is the one that struck me. Why is the character in France? A young lady of mixed race probably would stand out in fin de siecle Paris. However, so long as she isn't hobnobbing with the upper class types (and if she is, I'd be sure to mention that she is an exception to the norm), I don't see any problem with it or any reason to change her ethnicity.
Dumas was French and black... (mixed race, I may add)

But I don't think it really matters unless it's agents and publishers. And even then, there are agents and publishers specifically looking for characters of color, doesn't mean it'll be easy, but I think it's worth it in the long run.

thebloodfiend
05-13-2013, 10:32 PM
My god, I hate when people make stupid comments like this regarding fantasy novels. It's fantasy. You can write whatever the hell you want. Why is it okay to have witches and exorcisms, but black people in France during the 1860's is soooo unrealistic.

It's people like them who reinforce "pretty white girls sell" because they persuade people to only write "pretty white girl books" because of their own prejudices. If a single beta reader ever said one of those comments to me, I would never, ever use them again. Yes, there's some truth to their comments—and only because they reinforce them.

I bet there weren't any dwarves trotting around the middle-east 2000 years ago, either.


Fantasy can bend rules and histories and timelines. I, personally, am sick of *some* fantasy writers making it a norm to include loads of "factual" sexism and racism and insisting it belongs, while writing about dragons and elves.

Lavern08
05-13-2013, 10:52 PM
It's fantasy. You can write whatever the hell you want.

Fantasy can bend rules and histories and timelines...

Word. ;)

JulianneQJohnson
05-13-2013, 11:02 PM
Is it true that “white girls sell?” Yes. Is it true that the store I was in recently had POC groups separated into separate groups? Yes, that’s also true. Is it harder to get a bestseller with a heroine who’s mixed race? It probably is, but that did not stop The Color Purple or Ragtime.

Is the situation getting better? Yes. Maybe the change is slow, but at least that store I was in had a section for POC groups. Hopefully, I will see a day when the books are mixed in with everything else, but at least they are there.

Why is it getting better? Because of writer’s like you that stick to their story. It sounds to me that your MC’s ethnic background is a huge part of who she is. Your own ancestry proves that it’s feasible. Why change that? Don’t worry about what’s most marketable. Write the best dang book you can, and you will have just as much chance of any of us of getting published. You know what has the best chance of getting published? A well-written book, regardless of the details.

slhuang
05-13-2013, 11:09 PM
Oh dear, please don't change her race. :(

And with regard to marketability, remember that there are people out there starved for POC protagonists. If you have a white girl as your MC, you'll be competing with every other white-girl-heroine YA fantasy. But if you have a POC MC, you have a better chance of building word-of-mouth among people who are specifically looking for POC protagonists.

At least that's my prediction. :) Speaking personally, I am WAY more likely to pick up a book with a POC protagonist, because I just never see enough of them!

lolchemist
05-13-2013, 11:45 PM
NONONONONONONO tell them all to shut the fuck up! There is a huge wide open space in the market for exactly this book and exactly this character! All you need to do is find an agent who isn't a boring coward!

Here is a carrot for you: imagine Rihanna or Zoe Saldana (or whoever you favorite black celebrity is) playing this girl in the movie version of your book!

Filigree
05-14-2013, 01:13 AM
Yep, don't listen to them. Especially if the detractors are not solidly-published authors and/or high-powered agents or editors.

There's a big market for openly multicultural stuff. There are a lot of fantasy novels that have already had characters who are not 'white', and the publishing world is slowly coming around to not showing them as 'white'.

I get more grief from readers for having a very detailed sci-fi subplot to my M/M erotic romance, than I do for making a main character of obvious African descent.

Bottom line, write what makes you happiest to read, and develop some stronger filters for what some people will say about your writing. Even if they mean well, they aren't you, and they are not writing your story.

Kim Fierce
05-14-2013, 01:34 AM
Don't listen to them! :-)

ellio
05-14-2013, 01:38 AM
I'm pretty sure a bucketload of freed slaves from America emigrated to Paris in the 1800s. This fallacy that black people didn't exist in Europe until a hundred years ago needs to be put to an end really. North and East Africans had been trading with Europeans well before there were even white people in America.

Dead Gorgeous by Malorie Blackman is a fantasy book with black characters. All the covers I've just seen on google feature black girls on the front. It's about a girl whose family own a hotel and she's the only one who can see the really attractive ghost wandering around.
I can't recommend you read it because it's so long since I've read it myself (a good decade I would say) but I remember it also dealing with eating disorders and body image quite well, something not a lot of authors get right.

Anyway, don't change her race.

ellio
05-14-2013, 01:39 AM
NONONONONONONO tell them all to shut the fuck up! There is a huge wide open space in the market for exactly this book and exactly this character! All you need to do is find an agent who isn't a boring coward!

Here is a carrot for you: imagine Rihanna or Zoe Saldana (or whoever you favorite black celebrity is) playing this girl in the movie version of your book!

OH GOSH NO RIHANNA'S ACTING IS SO CATASTROPHIC
Admittedly I've never actually seen her in anything apart from a cameo she has in Bring it on 3 where she plays herself but that alone was shocking.

J.S.F.
05-14-2013, 07:56 AM
OH GOSH NO RIHANNA'S ACTING IS SO CATASTROPHIC
Admittedly I've never actually seen her in anything apart from a cameo she has in Bring it on 3 where she plays herself but that alone was shocking.

---

Hey, she was in Battleship!

Oh, wait...

:D

OP, in my opinion, in the past, yes, white chicks or dudes on covers of books did sell better. Was it racist? Maybe at times, yes, but not always. It sold and some publishers probably figured that since these covers/novels were selling well, why mess with success? This didn't make it right then nor does it make it right now, but things are changing.

As for your novel, don't change your MC's race. At all. I don't care if she's black or mixed or purple with polka dots. Write her the way YOU want to write her. You're proud of what you are, yes? So don't feel ashamed to BE proud of what you are. If your story is good then a publisher WILL pick it up and I hope you make a million bucks with it.

So says the average white dude who's married to a Japanese woman and writes lesbian fiction. (Ya, rlly!).:D

slhuang
05-14-2013, 09:26 AM
I don't care if she's black or mixed or purple with polka dots.

Just a heads up, JSF -- the rhetorical use of "green people," "purple people" etc. in conversations like this is often considered dehumanizing by POC (because it's placing real-life people in a category with the fictional ridiculous). I understand what you mean, of course, and I know you didn't mean it that way at all!, but I just thought I'd give you the FYI. :) (I made that mistake myself before I got more heavily involved in discourse about institutional racism, and I'm a POC! But after being involved in the conversation for a while now I've started to see why people consider it a problematic rhetorical device.)

Anyway. Just so you know. :) Carry on, everyone.

RemaCaracappa
05-14-2013, 09:55 AM
Gods, that's awful. Your character is who she is- if she were a white girl, pretty or otherwise, you'd be writing a white girl, but she's not, even if it's "only" by a quarter.

I'm a big believer in writing what you're interested in reading, especially if there's not much of it out there already, it's part of why I'm writing a few of the things that I am. If you've got a story, get it out there. You'll find readers (what you've said about it here is enough to grab my interest!). There's a need out there, even if some people are too myopic to see it.

J.S.F.
05-14-2013, 10:50 AM
Just a heads up, JSF -- the rhetorical use of "green people," "purple people" etc. in conversations like this is often considered dehumanizing by POC (because it's placing real-life people in a category with the fictional ridiculous). I understand what you mean, of course, and I know you didn't mean it that way at all!, but I just thought I'd give you the FYI. :) (I made that mistake myself before I got more heavily involved in discourse about institutional racism, and I'm a POC! But after being involved in the conversation for a while now I've started to see why people consider it a problematic rhetorical device.)

Anyway. Just so you know. :) Carry on, everyone.
------

Okay, went a little overboard on the color scheme, and no, of course I didn't mean it in a dehumanizing way. I sure hope no one took it that way! However, I do see your point so I will be more careful.

At any rate, my original point still stands. OP, write your character the way YOU want to. I read whatever I can get my hands on, and I don't care what color or race or religion the characters are, nor do I care what color or race or religion the writer is. All that matters to me is if it's a well-written novel or not.

GeekTells
05-14-2013, 12:00 PM
Write the book you want to write. Be the author you want to be. Accept that in this case it could lead to extra difficulties and then overcome those difficulties.

Oh, and get some new friends. :)

Kim Fierce
05-15-2013, 04:07 AM
Just a heads up, JSF -- the rhetorical use of "green people," "purple people" etc. in conversations like this is often considered dehumanizing by POC (because it's placing real-life people in a category with the fictional ridiculous). I understand what you mean, of course, and I know you didn't mean it that way at all!, but I just thought I'd give you the FYI. :) (I made that mistake myself before I got more heavily involved in discourse about institutional racism, and I'm a POC! But after being involved in the conversation for a while now I've started to see why people consider it a problematic rhetorical device.)

Anyway. Just so you know. :) Carry on, everyone.

I have felt that way, too, but then again sometimes in writing there could be purple people, so I'm sure no harm intended but it is a good FYI for the future! I heard someone say once "I don't care if you are white, black, blue, or green." And I was like, "Okay, if I am ever blue or green call a doctor!" haha

Bookewyrme
05-15-2013, 04:42 AM
Just wanted to add on not to get discouraged by the naysayers. Yes, pretty white girls sell, but so do other books and we NEED the other books to prove that something other than pretty white girls CAN sell until people stop repeating that stupidity.
As for the "but there were no POC in Europe in " bs, that has been debunked so many times that I bet if you just googled "black people in europe 1860" you'd get a ton of hits with everything from photographic evidence to textual references to census data. And if you want a recent YA literary reference, Gail Carriger's most recent release is a YA Steampunk set in England about 1860sish called [I]Etiquette & Espionage. It features a black boy as one of the MCs good friends (not the MC himself, but definitely an important character in his own right), and I suspect in later books he will become the love-interest (though it's possible I've misinterpreted that, there were definitely some hints that way) for the white, upper-class girl MC. And it has been selling quite well, all the same.

Also. Your book sounds awesome and I hope you sell it so I can read it! :)
(Apologies for the overly-long sentences. :P)

Amadan
05-15-2013, 05:31 AM
Who is saying these things? Are these beta-reader comments?

It is possible that you might get pressure from some editors or agents to "whitewash" the character, yes - but anyone who makes absolute statements like "No one will buy this because the main character is black" is not giving you sensible (or factual) advice.

BenPanced
05-15-2013, 06:06 AM
Write the book you want to write read.
Fixed it. Best damned advice I've gotten from anybody, and I encourage you to think about it.

OJCade
05-15-2013, 01:09 PM
Oh, and get some new friends. :)

That's what I was going to say. Or: get some new readers, ones who are a little less parochial in their tastes.

You could take it as a sort of compliment in that they've obviously found no gaping plot holes or major inconsistencies to bitch about, and thus have to resort to this in order to be "helpful" in their criticisms. You could, if you were feeling generous.

Otherwise just ignore them and mark them down mentally as being on the "not asking for your opinion in future" list. It's your story, not theirs.

kuwisdelu
05-15-2013, 01:25 PM
Othello.

Ken
05-15-2013, 02:55 PM
... sometimes you have to make concessions.
That's just how things go. I made one, myself, in a recent work.
And actually the work is probably better for it.
I wanted to make the character this,
because I wanted to get readers aware of this,
and sympathetic to this. And while that was an admirable aim, perhaps,
it still didn't really fit in with the story entirely.
It was more about me than the story.
Preachin' for equality more or less.
G'luck.

Kitty27
05-15-2013, 03:42 PM
I've heard it all concerning my YA novel.

"She's too Black." I have heard this repeatedly.

Beyonce and Rihanna are NOT how the average Black woman/girl looks. We come in a variety of skin tones and no,they don't end at light mocha. I will NOT compromise on my character's appearance whatsoever. No and more NO.

"Maybe if you make her mixed race,it will sell."

This is another one that is quite irritating. From my unscientific survey amongst my teen cousins and their wide group of friends,they do not want to see this. They hear it enough in songs how lighter skinned Black/Mixed race women are more beautiful,they see it in casting in videos&movies and they told me in no uncertain terms,they have zero interest in such a character. They want to see a teen MC who looks like them and also written positively. This is about the only stumbling block I can see for your story. But potential readers have to understand the time frame for your story and how such a character fits that era perfectly.


"I don't know if there's a market for this book."

This feeds into the stubborn myth that Black kids don't read. They do. But when you have YA series where Black kids are basically living on a plantation picking fruit and little else,where is the incentive for them to buy or care about these books? Or an industry that continues to whitewash book covers and only does something about it,when caring people raise hell?

I have said it a thousand times,but a book written towards this HUGE and ignored market in the paranormal genre will stun people with how well it will sell. The key is convincing agents and more importantly,publishers,that this can happen. I will be frank. Some do believe the myth and publishing comes down to dollars. They aren't going to tinker with what sells. So a writer with a POC character is facing a serious battle and I won't sugarcoat that for you. It will be hard.

Positivity helps,as well as more agents actively seeking multicultural fiction. But even that won't be enough if publishers are resistant to giving such a book a chance. It will take an open minded agent,as well as a publisher to give these books a chance. I tend to believe that this magical combination exists if a writer searches hard enough. But for me,I have reached the point where I have no intention of doing this. I don't have the energy or inclination anymore. I know my audience exists,how to target them,what they want to see and have received positive feedback from publications that target that same audience. I'm going it alone. I wish you well and will keep my fingers crossed for you.

kuwisdelu
05-15-2013, 03:50 PM
"Maybe if you make her mixed race,it will sell."

This is another one that is quite irritating. From my unscientific survey amongst my teen cousins and their wide group of friends,they do not want to see this. They hear it enough in songs how lighter skinned Black/Mixed race women are more beautiful,they see it in casting in videos&movies and they told me in no uncertain terms,they have zero interest in such a character. They want to see a teen MC who looks like them and also written positively. This is about the only stumbling block I can see for your story. But potential readers have to understand the time frame for your story and how such a character fits that era perfectly.

I have no idea what it's like in the black community, and I know it's not what either the "suggestion" or your rebuttal to it actually mean to address, but just for completeness, I do want to add that there are plenty of PoC out there who are mixed race and who struggle with being half-breeds and never really belonging in either world, and we need fiction for us, too.

Kitty27
05-15-2013, 04:24 PM
I have no idea what it's like in the black community, and I know it's not what either the "suggestion" or your rebuttal to it actually mean to address, but just for completeness, I do want to add that there are plenty of PoC out there who are mixed race and who struggle with being half-breeds and never really belonging in either world, and we need fiction for us, too.

I understand what you're saying and I agree. Since you spoke on it,I'll explain further.

From the Black community's POV- especially concerning teen girls&Black women- with regards to what is beautiful in our community,there has been a very nasty message of what that means and most of the time,it does NOT mean them. I am caramel colored and have been told that I just meet the acceptable cut off point. I cannot begin to imagine what darker skinned girls and women hear. Idris Elba is a sex symbol while you hardly ever see a Black actress his complexion seen the same way.

It is not all woe,however,because self esteem always carries the day. But it is not easy,either. Colorism is a savage and seemingly incurable disease plaguing our community. It seems crazy that people who face so much discrimination would turn it on each other,but unfortunately,we do.

From Lil Wayne's "Beautiful Black bitch,I bet she look better red" mess to the casting in music videos to nearly all the rappers they listen to saying they want a "redbone", it produces a LOT of issues for young Black girls. Look at the publishing industry and the repeated Whitewashing controversies.The two dominant Black female stars are both light skinned and there isn't any variety whatsoever. It isn't like the 90s when we had Brandy,Monica,TLC,Missy Elliott, Aaliyah aka Black females who spanned a variety of shades in the media for young Black girls to look up to and also seem themselves represented.

Many just want to see a teen MC who looks like them and their friends. I think that's normal and they are the audience I focus on.

Lyra Jean
05-15-2013, 04:44 PM
Please write your story and get it published. It would be refreshing to read a story with POC character that isn't dealing with slavery or teen pregnancy. So far that is what I've seen in African-American YA and it's getting really tiresome.

Kitty27
05-15-2013, 05:04 PM
Please write your story and get it published. It would be refreshing to read a story with POC character that isn't dealing with slavery or teen pregnancy. So far that is what I've seen in African-American YA and it's getting really tiresome.


Thank you!

My group of ruthless Betas say the exact same thing. They are especially tired of depictions in Urban Fiction as well. All we can do is continue to make things happen,whether it be through self-publishing or traditional.

theaceofspades
05-15-2013, 05:37 PM
Seriously, write your PoC as a PoC. We DESPERATELY need a book like yours.

Also, yeah, anyone who says that there weren't Black people in 1860s France need to pull their head out of their ass, because that has been debunked so many times that it isn't even funny. There were PoC in Europe since forever ago! I saw a blog post a little while ago that showed all sorts of medieval and renaissance art with Black people in the portraits, including as clergy and nobles.

ellio
05-15-2013, 06:22 PM
From my unscientific survey amongst my teen cousins and their wide group of friends,they do not want to see this. They hear it enough in songs how lighter skinned Black/Mixed race women are more beautiful,they see it in casting in videos&movies and they told me in no uncertain terms,they have zero interest in such a character. They want to see a teen MC who looks like them and also written positively.



From the Black community's POV- especially concerning teen girls&Black women- with regards to what is beautiful in our community,there has been a very nasty message of what that means and most of the time,it does NOT mean them. I am caramel colored and have been told that I just meet the acceptable cut off point. I cannot begin to imagine what darker skinned girls and women hear. Idris Elba is a sex symbol while you hardly ever see a Black actress his complexion seen the same way.

I think this is where it's important to make a distinction between the black community as a whole and the branch of the black community that includes the mixed community.
Where mixed race people are usually exempt from colorism, they also face a lot of identity and conformity issues that I don't think affects the black community at large. If you took the opinion of the mixed black community, they would all heavily stress that there isn't nearly the amount of focus on even acknowledging mixed race people exist in the media.

I'm from England, so the culture may be slightly different in the US, but as a mixed race black/white person I nearly never had mixed race idols to look up to. Although there might have been idols that looked like me for me to look up to, I was always given the impression that they were completely black and pure and whole and I was not quite them and not quite white either. Any mixed race faces on television were always playing black characters with two black parents from black families and communities (a problem that not only combines how mixed race people perceive themselves but also affects how darker skinned black girls perceive themselves).

I never felt I had any idols to look up to that were facing the same specific issues I was facing being mixed race. For instance, growing up in a predominantly white environment, I was often asked if I was adopted *and* pretty heavily teased for it. I had no sense of identity until I was about fifteen. It was actually very confusing and I would have liked to have had books that featured mixed race characters who were mixed race. Not just lighter skinned black people.

Obviously colorism is a big issue affecting young black girls and their perceived sense of self but I think an equally big issue is the lack of identity mixed race girls sometimes have. Although a light skinned black person from a black family and a black community might look mixed race, they're probably likely to face socially different issues from someone who comes from a mixed community.

I'm 100% behind there being more darker black faces in media and television but I don't think mixed raced characters should be sacrificed along the way. I think they're actually very separate issues and shouldn't be combined or discussed on the same level. There shouldn't ever be a case of "make the black girl mixed race to sell more" or "there's too many light people in the media, make the mixed race girl black" because the issues both of those minorities face are very different. In a lot of ways they aren't actually comparable.

It would have been just as beneficial for me to see a mixed race character dealing with the same identity issues and pressure to conform to one race or the other in books and television when I was a kid, as it will be for dark skinned black girls to see people like them. I really don't like the idea that having a mixed race character is a compromise, an inbetween, a more acceptable version of black. In reality, that's not what it's like to be mixed race at all.

Rachel Udin
05-15-2013, 07:43 PM
Booksellers as well as agents and publishers need to also help. I think I've said this before... but when I took a look at a Barnes and Nobles, I saw different covers used for the same book than my local bookstore. What struck me was that the books that clearly had PoCs in Barnes and Nobles tended to use the "non-face" cover. While my local bookstore bought covers with PoCs on the cover. Also the local bookstore had books I'd expect to be on the shelf with PoCs that the Barnes and Nobles didn't. (Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower is a good example of the difference in cover stocked by the bookstore.)

Clearly, booksellers also have an influence on what is being bought and sold. I'm still mad at Barnes and Nobles. I'm a little cynical it was just that branch though. Someone is running it at the top making such decisions.

And for reference, I went the same day for both bookstores.

Corinne Duyvis
05-15-2013, 10:06 PM
Adding my voice to the chorus of 'KEEP HER THE WAY SHE IS, OMG' and also the chorus of eyerolling at whoever told you these things. Among other things, they clearly know nothing about history. Black people have been traipsing around Europe for a DAMN long time and occupied important positions.

Even if we were to accept that it sells better, period, zero discussion possible, there's still reasons not to listen:
a) There will always be some trope or plot element or genre that sells better than what we want to write. Should we be aware of that? Sure. Should we automatically compromise our stories? Hell no.
b) A significant audience is hungry for PoC leads.
c) Even if it's true, that doesn't mean it's right, and making it right involves making sure we have as much PoC leads as possible--not getting rid of the few we have.

LJD
05-16-2013, 03:29 AM
"Maybe if you make her mixed race,it will sell."

This is another one that is quite irritating. From my unscientific survey amongst my teen cousins and their wide group of friends,they do not want to see this. They hear it enough in songs how lighter skinned Black/Mixed race women are more beautiful,they see it in casting in videos&movies and they told me in no uncertain terms,they have zero interest in such a character. They want to see a teen MC who looks like them and also written positively. This is about the only stumbling block I can see for your story. But potential readers have to understand the time frame for your story and how such a character fits that era perfectly.


I have no idea what it's like in the black community, and I know it's not what either the "suggestion" or your rebuttal to it actually mean to address, but just for completeness, I do want to add that there are plenty of PoC out there who are mixed race and who struggle with being half-breeds and never really belonging in either world, and we need fiction for us, too.


I really don't like the idea that having a mixed race character is a compromise, an inbetween, a more acceptable version of black. In reality, that's not what it's like to be mixed race at all.

I think the mixed-race character issue is interesting. (OK, fair enough, I'm biracial.)

Several times I have seen biracial characters (who were half white; I'm not talking about, for example, half-black, half-Asian characters) described as a cop-out. A compromise.

Now, sometimes this complaint is expressed in a way that is rather insulting to me. Really, there shouldn't be biracial characters? There's something completely wrong with having a half-Asian rather than a fully Asian character?

And I haven't read enough such books to judge, but...it sounds like, unfortunately, having a biracial MC is frequently a way to make the book more "palatable" to white readers--like what Kitty has been told. It's a way to add diversity without really adding diversity, because the MC's identity issues , for example, are never discussed. (See this review (http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/d-plain-reviews/review-nightfall-by-ellen-connor/), especially comments #15 and #21.)

I want to read characters of mixed race, but I don't want to these characters to be half-white just so the author has an excuse to whitewash them.

I mean, there could be cultural identity issues. Or significantly family tensions due to the parents' relationship. (My mom's parents didn't go to her wedding, for example. They gave my parents a wedding present more than TEN YEARS late. And there are no pictures of me with my maternal grandparents until I was 3 or 4.) If you are estranged from half your family, imagine what that could do to your identity issues... The idea of being "half-Asian" really bothered me when I was a child. In grade one, I decided on a way to identify myself that involved splitting myself into thirds...

But yeah, I don't want mixed race characters just to make diversity more palatable. Unfortunately, there does seem to be some of that going on. Uggh.

thebloodfiend
05-16-2013, 03:44 AM
But yeah, I don't want mixed race characters just to make diversity more palatable. Unfortunately, there does seem to be some of that going on. Uggh.Yes, that is what bothers me.

Really, my biggest problem is that the majority of mixed race characters are PoC/White. Never two different races unless one of them is white. Also, there's the colorism issue, with light skin being more desirable.

I really dislike the token half black (or half Asian) (maybe bisexual) character who's only there to be the sassy best friend. It gets old. I don't like issue novels, and I certainly don't believe mixed raced characters are bad or wrong to use, but when I see white authors throwing in one for the sake of being "diverse" I can't help but let my eye twitch.

We usually get the same description—light mocha skin, green eyes, clear skin, unbelievably soft hair that might be a weave—for all of them.

Green eyes are common, regardless of sex.

I'd like more true to life presentations of all PoC and biracial characters.

ellio
05-16-2013, 03:54 AM
Really, my biggest problem is that the majority of mixed race characters are PoC/White. Never two different races unless one of them is white. Also, there's the colorism issue, with light skin being more desirable.
.

Yes, this too.
I have always been part of the black community in my own eyes because the white community generally doesn't want to acknowledge I came from the womb of one of them, as I'm sure is the case with asian-white children too.
Kids that are PoC mixed probably even have even more identity issues because (cue mass generalisation and with it my apologies) PoC tend to have really strong cultures and I'd love to see a character pulled into two of those cultures and not being able to establish their identity within them. Especially if the two cultures were ones that were in some way inherently racist towards each other, which can often happen.

That is definitely not a topic discussed enough in YA... or at all.

J.S.F.
05-16-2013, 06:31 AM
Yes, this too.
I have always been part of the black community in my own eyes because the white community generally doesn't want to acknowledge I came from the womb of one of them, as I'm sure is the case with asian-white children too.
Kids that are PoC mixed probably even have even more identity issues because (cue mass generalisation and with it my apologies) PoC tend to have really strong cultures and I'd love to see a character pulled into two of those cultures and not being able to establish their identity within them. Especially if the two cultures were ones that were in some way inherently racist towards each other, which can often happen.

That is definitely not a topic discussed enough in YA... or at all.--

---

I'll start this by saying I'm not of mixed race, so I can't pretend to know what it's like for anyone who's half-black/white/Asian to grow up and not be accepted in one or both racial groups due to what they are.

However, my children are bi-racial--I'm Caucasian and my wife is Asian (Japanese)--so my children have, unfortunately--been exposed to some racism living here in Japan.

They identify themselves as being Japanese even though they look predominantly Western. I think that how they identify themselves all comes down to parenting and how willing the parents are to see both sides of the equation and engender in their children the idea of "you're the same as everyone, so don't let comments bother you" or words to that effect.

This is just my own personal observation and in no way reflects the experiences of others or their mindsets.

As for novels, I grew up with the usual white and straight and male MC who, while flawed in terms of character, usually rights his own personal wrongs, saves the day, and gets the girl in the end. It wasn't until I was an adult that I found other sources of literature with different PoC and it was an eye-opener for me.

Now, it's something I'd like to see more of, not just for the sake of being inclusive, but for showing that there are PoC who can be and act just as heroically--or badly--as anyone else. The world ain't totally white anymore and it never was. It's refreshing to read different points of view.

Sorry for the long ramble.

LJD
05-16-2013, 07:36 AM
Yes, this too.
I have always been part of the black community in my own eyes because the white community generally doesn't want to acknowledge I came from the womb of one of them, as I'm sure is the case with asian-white children too.

My experience is rather different.

Although I have lots of Asian friends, I will never be part of the Chinese community here in any way. I am just not Chinese enough for that. Some of that is a language issue--you cannot really be part of the Chinese community if you don't speak Cantonese or Mandarin. (See this (http://www.uglychinesecanadian.com/?p=48), for example.) My mom, who was 100% Chinese-Canadian, was pretty much ostracized from the Chinese community here too. She was Canadian-born (pretty damn rare for someone of her age where I live), married a white guy, and spoke poor Toisanese. (And the Toisanese were often looked down upon as village people or country bumpkins (http://www.uglychinesecanadian.com/?p=2869) so that probably didn't help.) The rare times we went to the Asian mall, she'd be spoken to in Cantonese, and she'd have to say she only spoke English, and it was always very awkward.

I do not have strong Asian features, and have never felt outright rejection from the white community. Maybe they see me as different, but not "different enough."

ellio
05-16-2013, 08:04 AM
@LJD - You know, I'll admit, I never even considered that kind of situation. My apologies. I guess because mostly where I grew up there were so few ethnic minorities at all that anyone who was even a tiny bit different looking was made to feel aware of it. I remember being in a class where every kid was blonde except for me and the half-thai girl who was also very much made to feel like she did not belong.

Now where I live communities are somewhat segregated and a lot of ethnic groups do keep very close together and speak in their native languages to each other. I never even considered how isolating it would be if someone couldn't speak the native language of their community whether they were mixed race or fully one race (uh, that's a non PC term if I ever heard one *slaps wrist*). I just hear such a variety of languages going on in my area - which is such a breath of fresh air from the parts of England that I grew up in where it was almost frowned upon if you were bilingual (definitely frown upon if English wasn't your first language) - that it never crossed my mind to think about those that were maybe left out of the conversation.

You know the more I think about it, really (not referencing your personal story particularly as I'd in no way want to diminish your experiences by insinuating they make good fiction) it's incredible how many complex and emotional story lines there can be revolving PoC characters and mixed PoC characters. The experiences PoC face can be so diverse and unique in their own right that it's actually pretty ridiculous that we don't see more of them in books.

Liralen
05-16-2013, 08:11 AM
OP, I think your premise sounds like a wonderful jumping off place for your story. Europe, particularly France, was a haven for children of placage, particularly those who could "pass" who could merge into the "white" society.

History is what it is. Write your story and don't let anyone bully you into "whitewashing" it. ;)

lolchemist
05-16-2013, 09:08 AM
My experience is rather different.


And mine is different from both of yours! I think of myself as extremely lucky because I am Jewish on my mother's side and Muslim on my father's side and whenever I meet a Jew they are like "Well OF COURSE you're Jewish! The line carries from the mother!" (and plus... I have the stereotypical big nose.) And whenever I meet a Muslim they're like "Well OF COURSE you're Muslim! If you feel Muslim in your heart, that's all that matters!" (And besides I look very Middle Eastern.)

I know there ARE Muslims and Jews out there who would be like 'OH HELL NAWW!!!' but, I guess, especially because I live in America and am meeting American Muslims and Jews they are waaay more likely to be open-minded and understanding! But I mainly love that they *claim* me for their teams without even asking which religion I myself prefer. It feels great to be included because I know how horrible it can feel to be half-this and half-that and members of neither race think you belong. People really need to fucking stop doing that!!

(Sorry, i really don't mean to make it sound like I am bragging, this is just something that really makes me feel good so I wanted to share. I hope with the next generation, everyone of every race and ethnic group will be like this. More and more mixed kids are being born every day!)

lolchemist
05-16-2013, 09:18 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Americans_in_France

You know what? I don't even know why I didn't Google this before but it's right there in Wikipedia for fuck's sake! Show those people this and tell them to shut up!


African Americans, who are largely descended from Africans of the American colonial era (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_history_of_the_United_States), have lived and worked in France since the 1800s. Unofficial figures indicate that up to 50,000 free blacks emigrated to Paris from Louisiana in the decades after Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in 1803.

J.S.F.
05-16-2013, 09:21 AM
And mine is different from both of yours! I think of myself as extremely lucky because I am Jewish on my mother's side and Muslim on my father's side and whenever I meet a Jew they are like "Well OF COURSE you're Jewish! The line carries from the mother!" (and plus... I have the stereotypical big nose.) And whenever I meet a Muslim they're like "Well OF COURSE you're Muslim! If you feel Muslim in your heart, that's all that matters!" (And besides I look very Middle Eastern.)

I know there ARE Muslims and Jews out there who would be like 'OH HELL NAWW!!!' but, I guess, especially because I live in America and am meeting American Muslims and Jews they are waaay more likely to be open-minded and understanding! But I mainly love that they *claim* me for their teams without even asking which religion I myself prefer. It feels great to be included because I know how horrible it can feel to be half-this and half-that and members of neither race think you belong. People really need to fucking stop doing that!!

(Sorry, i really don't mean to make it sound like I am bragging, this is just something that really makes me feel good so I wanted to share. I hope with the next generation, everyone of every race and ethnic group will be like this. More and more mixed kids are being born every day!)

---

I read this post and laughed at the humor in it. Being Jewish myself (both sides of my family) but never religious, I always find it amusing to be asked around Christmas time (in Japan) "Are you going to church?"

"Uh, no."

The conversation usually stops at that point.:D

My kids are half-white and half-Asian, half-Buddhist and half-Jewish, and they love Christmas, mainly because they know they're going to get presents...God help me.

When my mother met my wife for the first time years back, she whispered to me with a smile on her face, "You married a shikse?"

What could I say? I told her I married someone I loved...that was enough, and my mother, now gone, was very, VERY proud of her two grandsons to the day she died. Love will always find a way and is the true path to learning and tolerance. This, I firmly believe.

Rachel Udin
05-16-2013, 07:29 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws9KI_KLWEs

She's half black and half Korean. Love this song. But she pretty much sings and raps her way through the issues she faced by being happa in Korea. Still touches me.

This is the music I play when I have a crappy day.

Still in the comments of some of her videos I occasionally see people argue if she looks more black or more Korean or more black or more Korean for a particular photo, or even, "Where is her kinky hair". --;;

As a Korean adopted to a Russian Hungarian Atheist Jewish family that DID go to a Unitarian Universalist Church for 10 years, though my parents often complained it was too Catholic and only went for the music and the free babysitting. (I know) and a Buddhist Monk for a father.... (Korean side gets more complex, but not getting into that)

I think I have a pretty rich background. Jews called me not Jewish. My mom didn't want to put us through a Bat/Bar Mitzvah. 'cause she didn't like it as a child. We never went to temple, only to that church. And Korean community, while nice, would auto-think because I'm adopted I belonged to the Jews. The Jews would think that I didn't belong at all. The Christians assumed I was Christian, until I wasn't. And I didn't find out I was partially Buddhist by my Korean father until later. (Though explaining how you can be the child of a Monk is difficult sometimes... he became a Monk about right after I was adopted. OK.)

Pretty much I was kicked out of every classification. People of color, saw I was raised by Whites, so I got white privilege, but that was only at home. (My parents often didn't get that I got straight up racism, and would argue that I didn't.)

Koreans in Korea say I was lucky to be adopted to the US, but then consider me white at the same time.

And biracial people didn't recognize me as biracial either... 'cause ya know, I'm not actually genetically half white. I just feel that way inside. Interracial Adopted people also argue about how white or how PoC they are within the community too, like a cosmic, inter-how white are you? moment. Some even make sweeping comments. (though I tend to say that I think the way to function well is to embrace both... mostly because I've seen severe backlash when one is ignored over the other. Mine isn't a popular opinion though... well, not yet. Next gen might feel as I do.) Even people outside get into this debate. How white are interracially adopted kids? Such that someone in my class who was black and adopted to white parents was teased mercilessly. (I'm not sure, but I think he ended up going to law school... there was a local newspaper report about it.)

If you want a cosmic identity crisis, there you go. Took me years to sort out, get strong enough to say I'm not either or, I'm both. Now deal with it.

But I've been lucky to have people that also get it as well.

Missus Akasha
05-17-2013, 04:19 PM
Wow, this turned out to be a very tantalizing discussion! A lot of interesting points were made and I agree with all of them honestly. It's funny how it works. There is this assumption that being biracial is more accepting to society, but biracial people tend to be rejected by both heritages. They are caught in a world in between. I guess that is why I wanted to write my lead character as one.

To answer the question of who told me those things: it's family and friends. Not agents or publishing houses, thank God! Over the years they have give me a lot of good criticism, but that was when I was still developing my skills. Now as I have found my writing style and I am more matured, their criticism doesn't focus on my writing anymore, but trivial things such as my characters' races.

So I should probably find a beta reader or readers, but I wouldn't even know where to go with that! Plus, do you have to have a the whole story complete or can you submit what you have to beta readers as you go along?

kuwisdelu
05-17-2013, 05:05 PM
So I should probably find a beta reader or readers, but I wouldn't even know where to go with that! Plus, do you have to have a the whole story complete or can you submit what you have to beta readers as you go along?

Beta readers are just anyone willing to read and comment on your work before it's ready for the public. When you send stuff to them totally depends on your relationship.

Corinne Duyvis
05-17-2013, 08:29 PM
I would definitely suggest finding new betas if they're so against the kind of characters you write. AW is a good place to start! You can try the official beta forum (which I'd link to if I weren't spectacularly lazy...) or maybe ask someone in here? It can't hurt.

Alternatively, I've found a lot of my CPs just via befriending people on Twitter and blogs. I've been fairly lucky so far in who I've sent my work to--most haven't had a problem with my leads not being white/straight/abled. Being friends with someone beforehand helps you weed out those people anyway, I guess.

Kim Fierce
05-18-2013, 12:09 AM
Wow, this turned out to be a very tantalizing discussion! A lot of interesting points were made and I agree with all of them honestly. It's funny how it works. There is this assumption that being biracial is more accepting to society, but biracial people tend to be rejected by both heritages. They are caught in a world in between. I guess that is why I wanted to write my lead character as one.

To answer the question of who told me those things: it's family and friends. Not agents or publishing houses, thank God! Over the years they have give me a lot of good criticism, but that was when I was still developing my skills. Now as I have found my writing style and I am more matured, their criticism doesn't focus on my writing anymore, but trivial things such as my characters' races.

So I should probably find a beta reader or readers, but I wouldn't even know where to go with that! Plus, do you have to have a the whole story complete or can you submit what you have to beta readers as you go along?

Depends on your beta readers. I say multiple areas of diversity should be more common in the future. All my stories feature characters with diverse races/sexualities, and in The Divide everyone is multi-racial and it's 200 years in the future, and not just white/PoC. I want to make sure I'm not putting myself into some kind of bad trope with that! This discussion has helped me to see that in the sequel, some of my multi-racial characters will have some more focus put on their different family cultures. For example, I have a lesbian character who is part native American and wears a mohawk, and I don't explain why in book one. But that's because the MC in book one sees things from her government brainwashed perspective. But there is a reason, so I will tell it. And there are other things I'm going to expand on as well.

From what I have read, I think the stories with biracial characters who are completely whitewashed or seem to have none of the problems you mentioned are the ones that are causing a problem overall. Like Jem in Clockwork Angel. It is good to see a white/Chinese character, but he is always treated as if he is white, really. I still like him. But I see where the conflict could lie. And Cassandra Clare is awesome. The MC is a white girl who seems very unused to being around what she refers to as "foreign" people but has no problem accepting Jem and doesn't think of him as "foreign".

I think there is still a struggle with diversity in characters but the more of us who keep putting our work out there, the more likely we should see a revolution! :-P

KingAlanI
05-21-2013, 08:27 AM
I agree that saying crap like that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Kim Fierce
05-22-2013, 04:53 AM
Yeah, like what century are we in?

I have an upcoming guest blog post about diversity in writing for All Romance ebooks. (I was trying to get on their pride month guest list, but they were triple-booked so I am doing a sort of intro-to pride month post scheduled for next week, and decided to talk about all types of diversity.) I attempt to encourage both writers and readers to not give up because I really do think we're on the edge of a new trend in popular literature. At least I hope so!

Filigree
05-22-2013, 06:56 AM
Bravo, Kim.

Roxxsmom
05-22-2013, 09:46 AM
Your book and character sound fascinating. It's something I'd be interested in reading. Actually, her heritage might be something that would catch my interest and make me more likely to read it.

And I've seen agent sites where the agent specifically says they're particularly interested in stories told from diverse perspectives or from the pov of people traditionally underrepresented in genre fiction.

Max Vaehling
05-22-2013, 07:32 PM
The OP reminds me of the people who, very concernedly, suggested that while they liked my comic about a pre-teen monster hunter, wouldn't it be smarter, sales-wise, to make her older? I could write about teen problems and appeal to teen audiences and... (Well, at least she's white. I mean, if she wasn't, you wouldn't even be able to gloss over the fact. You'd see it in every panel because it's a comic!)

I usually reply that, while there's certainly a story or two in the teen monster hunter genre, that's not the kind of story I want to tell. In fact, it's somebody else's story called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and while it indeed was very successful, it's already there.

That said, these comments reflect the kind of reaction you may get from publishers or agents who don't have the story in mind but their audiences and their perceptions of What Sells. The old line of "I love it, but my readers won't go for it". Which is almost always an untested claim. It's why change is so slow in mainstream fiction. Better to prepare for that kind of backlash now than be crushed by it later.

BTW, I love the idea of a mixed-race protagonist in 1860 France - from her built-in outsider's perspective to the fact that she's sure to defy everybody's expectations, giving you unique possibilities to describe her world.

Kaarl
05-23-2013, 01:05 PM
Yes I think there is some merit to that comment (sad but true) however... "Let's face it: good stories sell well" is a far more accurate one.

It seems to me (based off of your post) that her mixed race heritage contributes very little to the tension of the story and doesn't provide your MC with many challenges beyond a few glances and snarky comments.

Maybe if it was a constant source of problems for her (not necessarily major but at least noticeable) it would be easier to "defend" her background. In saying that I totally agree with the other posters that you shouldn't have to.

I myself am of mixed race and even in this day and age it can be a source of drama. My own cousin used to berate me because my mother is English and I'm lighter than the other side of my family. That was in the late 90's .....

kuwisdelu
05-23-2013, 01:16 PM
Yes I think there is some merit to that comment (sad but true) however... "Let's face it: good stories sell well" is a far more accurate one.

It seems to me (based off of your post) that her mixed race heritage contributes very little to the tension of the story and doesn't provide your MC with many challenges beyond a few glances and snarky comments.

Maybe if it was a constant source of problems for her (not necessarily major but at least noticeable) it would be easier to "defend" her background.

That sounds just like "unless their ethnicity is very important to the plot, all characters should be white."

Kaarl
05-23-2013, 05:16 PM
That sounds just like "unless their ethnicity is very important to the plot, all characters should be white."

And that sounds like if you make no detailed mention of their ethnicity at all then they automatically are white.

*EDIT* "She is the product of a placage between a Creole woman and a white French planation owner" is fine however from the comments from the OP's betas there seems to be some other description that gives her an exact mix in 1/4's.

Why not just leave it at that sentence and let readers pick the rest up and run with it how they will ? If there is a concern about how people will react to the MC which is the reason for the post.

kuwisdelu
05-23-2013, 05:21 PM
And that sounds like if you make no mention of their ethnicity at all then they automatically are white.

Huh? How so?

Are you trying to suggest you were saying one should only mention ethnicity if it's important to the plot?

Practically speaking, if you're publishing for an American audience, and you envision you're character being something other than white, whether that's important to the story or not, you need to mention it if you want readers to envision her as something other than white.

And sometimes it's still not enough...

Kaarl
05-23-2013, 05:57 PM
Not at all.

What I was trying to get at was perhaps leaving out 'she is 3/4 this and 1/4 that' and just sticking with that single sentence the OP mentioned about a plantation owner might circumvent the race nonsense AND broaden the appeal.

I am not sure if the OP specifically mentions the exact mix in the text; I'm basing that off of the post.

The you took that to mean "unless their ethnicity is very important to the plot, all characters should be white"

If I say "A man walked in to a room and sat down" does that mean he is white ? I haven't mentioned race at all, yet you are saying I've just made him white by omitting to talk about his skin colour. That's YOUR perception of what I'm doing and yours alone

The problem stems from the (and it's completely understandable) assumption that if I don't say it's a black man then he must be white.

And as for writing for an "American" audience, or any for that matter WHY do you need to mention it. "Show don't Tell" I believe has merit in response to the point you're bringing up there.

Not saying I have all the answers but I was doing my best to answer the question and give some perspective on why I was of that opinion.

Kaarl
05-23-2013, 06:10 PM
As for "showing and not telling people" someone's ethnicity without stereotyping ethnic groups (of any colour) I am personally at a loss for the "How"

Not to hijack the thread but does anyone have examples of someone who does this ?

Cathy C
05-23-2013, 06:10 PM
"Why are Black people enslaved? The color of people's skin only suggests a slight difference. There is no discord between day and night, the sun and the moon and between the stars and dark sky. All is varied; it is the beauty of nature. Why destroy nature's work?"

Frenchman Olympe de Gouges, Reflections on Black People, 1788

Right after the French Revolution, the concept of slavery was a hot topic in France (Address to the National Assembly in Favor of the Abolition of the Slave Trade (http://www.historywiz.com/primarysources/societyfob.htm) February 5, 1790 -Society of the Friends of Blacks ) A hundred years later, the feeling was the same.

What you might consider, Missus Akasha, is changing up your character's backstory a bit. Since you're writing paranormal anyway, why don't you consider moving the discussion of slavery in France up forward a century (along with a heated discussion of religious/paranormal matters like your subject.) Use the same points brought up in our reality and have your character be specifically brought to France to prove that "black is beautiful". It would showcase her to be proud, intelligent and strong when she is "presented" at public functions. Plus, it would give her stature within the context of the world and get her to the places necessary to deal with your plot.

Just a thought. Don't know if it'll work for your plot, but at the very least, there is plenty of real-world evidence to support her being in Paris at that time. :) It sounds like a great read and I really hope someone gives it a go!

kuwisdelu
05-23-2013, 06:41 PM
And as for writing for an "American" audience, or any for that matter WHY do you need to mention it.

If you don't mention it, many readers will assume white. That's just how it is.

Many of them will continue to assume white even after you've mentioned it.

Summonere
05-23-2013, 08:00 PM
A good story is a good story. People will read and enjoy good stories no matter who the main character happens to be. And you'll far more enjoy writing the story you want to write, featuring the kinds of characters you want to write about, than writing one that bends to the will of others who don't share your vision.

A story is a balloon that rides on the loft of your own dreams. Those who poke holes in it without understanding the journey most assuredly encourage a crash rather than an adventure.

Kim Fierce
05-24-2013, 01:48 AM
Not at all.

What I was trying to get at was perhaps leaving out 'she is 3/4 this and 1/4 that' and just sticking with that single sentence the OP mentioned about a plantation owner might circumvent the race nonsense AND broaden the appeal.

.

Well, we had discussed earlier in another thread that in the case of Cassandra Clare's City of Ashes etc. series, her character Magnus is pretty much described the same way, only a brief explanation, and now some people are freaked out to learn that the character portraying him in the movies is Asian, because this wasn't enough and they assumed he was white.

I don't know why they seemed so horribly confused and upset in the particular example I saw . . . I guess whatever character attributes you want your readers to know . . . personality-wise or looks-wise and culturally . . . either way we definitely want to get the message across and don't want to be told "if your character had a different skin tone this would work best" on top of that. A good balance between describing race in every paragraph and only mentioning it vaguely is probably the best way!

theaceofspades
05-24-2013, 08:35 PM
at the same time, though even if you do mention your character's race, some people will still imagine them as white anyway (such as Rue from The Hunger Games, who was apparently invisioned as a white child with blue eyes and blonde hair by many, despite the fact that it's pretty explicit that she's black). so in some ways you do kind of have to periodically remind people that your character is a character of color (unfortunately). and i think the way to do this is to remember that her heritage will affect the way she interacts with the world (on both sides- her experiences will inform her reactions and ways of thinking, and most people [intentionally or not] treat a poc differently from the way they'd treat a white person).

at teh same time, you should definitely juggle the experience thing so that it doesn't become a story about her race. i guess what i'm trying to say that her race should affect her story, but her story does not need to center around her race.

Lyra Jean
05-24-2013, 08:43 PM
at the same time, though even if you do mention your character's race, some people will still imagine them as white anyway (such as Rue from The Hunger Games, who was apparently invisioned as a white child with blue eyes and blonde hair by many, despite the fact that it's pretty explicit that she's black). so in some ways you do kind of have to periodically remind people that your character is a character of color (unfortunately). and i think the way to do this is to remember that her heritage will affect the way she interacts with the world (on both sides- her experiences will inform her reactions and ways of thinking, and most people [intentionally or not] treat a poc differently from the way they'd treat a white person).

at teh same time, you should definitely juggle the experience thing so that it doesn't become a story about her race. i guess what i'm trying to say that her race should affect her story, but her story does not need to center around her race.

I think that is because Katniss could see similarities between Rue and her own sister. Unfortunately most people only relate similarities to physical appearance not to personality.

I was surprised that I didn't hear any sort of kerfluffle on the net or otherwise about how all the black people in The Hunger Games worked on Plantantions in the South. At least in the books they didn't make any mention of people of color living elsewhere.

thebloodfiend
05-24-2013, 09:25 PM
I think that is because Katniss could see similarities between Rue and her own sister. Unfortunately most people only relate similarities to physical appearance not to personality.

I was surprised that I didn't hear any sort of kerfluffle on the net or otherwise about how all the black people in The Hunger Games worked on Plantantions in the South. At least in the books they didn't make any mention of people of color living elsewhere.

It was minor. People brushed it off as unimportant.

Max Vaehling
05-24-2013, 09:45 PM
As for "showing and not telling people" someone's ethnicity without stereotyping ethnic groups (of any colour) I am personally at a loss for the "How"

Not to hijack the thread but does anyone have examples of someone who does this ?

Neil Gaiman played with this expectation in Anansi Boys, by not mentioning anybody's race unless it's really important to the dialogue or theplot depends on it - mostly because the protagonist is black, and to him, that's normal and not worth mentioning. So mentioning it would have felt untrue to the PoV. As a reader, you're left to figuring it out yourself. Which, as the plot progresses, becomes increasingly obvious and harder to ignore.

But that's Neil Gaiman, of course. I don't see his editor saying "the readers won't go for this".

Ken
05-25-2013, 12:46 AM
... recently read a novel.
Wasn't revealed until the very last line that the MC was black.

Lyra Jean
05-25-2013, 12:58 AM
Starship Troopers the MC was from Argentina. That's where Buenos Aires is right?

AutumnKQ
05-25-2013, 01:49 AM
I have a mixed protag. I've described her as having curls, green eyes, and at one point "golden" skin (I'm writing YA Sci-fi and I'm having a hard time with skin tone colors...)
Race is rather irrelevant in my book because of the setting. They have plenty of other forms of prejudice that matter more in the story. Her friend / sidekick is black, but I just said he had "dark skin". A friend of hers has red hair and that's all I wrote about her, but I envision her like my friend's pretty little daughters who are something like half irish, half filipino. They've got dark skin, red hair and freckles.

I envision my secondary MC to look hispanic, but I never explained much more than to describe him being good looking and having black hair and brown eyes. I envision a girl he dates as being mixed- she looks asian-european. I doubt I'll write more about her looks than that she is good-looking and has dark hair.

My leader is named "Minh" and I say she looks small standing next to her husband. I envision her as being asian and her husband as sort of a tall ruddy cheeked german-looking guy, but I don't mention that. The husband has a son by a different woman and the son has blond hair. Let the reader figure it out.

Based on how I wrote it, the reader is going to envision whatever they want, honestly. And I like it that way. If my readers want to populate the world with nothing but white and slightly tan characters, they are welcome to it. If they want to envision every dark-haired person as asian or something else, they can do that, too.

AutumnKQ
05-25-2013, 02:39 AM
Huh? How so?

Are you trying to suggest you were saying one should only mention ethnicity if it's important to the plot?

Practically speaking, if you're publishing for an American audience, and you envision you're character being something other than white, whether that's important to the story or not, you need to mention it if you want readers to envision her as something other than white.

And sometimes it's still not enough...

My thinking is that if race is an important issue in the plot, then the reader will figure it out. If it isn't an important of the plot, then why dictate what the reader should imagine? I think people like to imagine the world for themselves.

kuwisdelu
05-25-2013, 03:07 AM
My thinking is that if race is an important issue in the plot, then the reader will figure it out. If it isn't an important of the plot, then why dictate what the reader should imagine? I think people like to imagine the world for themselves.

If they want to imagine the world for themselves, they can write their own novel, can't they?

When you don't read about very many characters who look like you, sometimes it's nice when an author acknowledges when one of them does, even if it's not important to the plot.

AutumnKQ
05-25-2013, 03:47 AM
If they want to imagine the world for themselves, they can write their own novel, can't they?

When you don't read about very many characters who look like you, sometimes it's nice when an author acknowledges when one of them does, even if it's not important to the plot.

I can see your point... I like when I get my hands on a book that features a strong female protag. But as a writer, I have a story to tell. I try to describe everything crucial to the plot and then let the reader built the world in her mind. That's because, as a reader, it's my personal preference that the author not use too much description- it slows down the book for me. I like to read and use my imagination... if I didn't want to use it so much, I'd just watch tv and movies (which I also enjoy, of course.)

kuwisdelu
05-25-2013, 03:58 AM
That's because, as a reader, it's my personal preference that the author not use too much description- it slows down the book for me.

My personal preference is for less physical character description in general, too. But simply describing someone as, for example, "a pretty black girl", isn't really going overboard, IMO, and can mean a lot to some.

thebloodfiend
05-25-2013, 04:20 AM
My personal preference is for less physical character description in general, too. But simply describing someone as, for example, "a pretty black girl", isn't really going overboard, IMO, and can mean a lot to some.Very true.


Though even that will go over some peoples' heads. :Shrug:But what more can you do?

AutumnKQ
05-25-2013, 04:57 AM
My personal preference is for less physical character description in general, too. But simply describing someone as, for example, "a pretty black girl", isn't really going overboard, IMO, and can mean a lot to some.

True.

Dave.C.Robinson
05-25-2013, 05:38 AM
All I can say is that given the background the OP provided, putting the character in France makes a lot of sense.

Max Vaehling
05-25-2013, 04:21 PM
Starship Troopers the MC was from Argentina. That's where Buenos Aires is right?

Right... Casper Van Dien sure nailed that. (And it was Buenos Aires in the movie, too.)

But that's the thing. If it isn't clear enough in the original novel, or important to the plot, people might drop it in the movie. Y'know, because The Audience Won't Go For It, or just because it never occurred to them while reading the book in the first place.

(It happens the other way 'round, too - Ford in the Hitch Hiker's Guide movie, Kurdy in the Jeremiah TV show... if it isn't important that they're white, producers do sometimes get away with changing their ethnicity. They do it for a much better reason, though. And on purpose.)

Ronni
05-27-2013, 04:55 AM
OH GOSH NO RIHANNA'S ACTING IS SO CATASTROPHIC
Admittedly I've never actually seen her in anything apart from a cameo she has in Bring it on 3 where she plays herself but that alone was shocking.

Oh. Then you haven't seen Battleship obviously.

It doesn't get better.

Ronni
05-27-2013, 05:05 AM
Everyone that I have let read what I have written so far loves it. However, their love is laced with worry. For instance:

"This could really be a bestseller if you changed Aubrey to white girl."

"Aubrey is 3/4 white and 1/4 black. She is practically white anyway. It's not like changing her race will alter the storyline. Just make her the product of an affair between a white commoner woman and a French plantation owner."

"Nobody wants to read about a mixed girl trying to help save the world. Just make her white. Let's face it: pretty white girls sell."

"I doubt there were lots of black people trotting around Paris back then. Let's try and be realistic. Make her white."

"No literary agent or publishing company will want this because Aubrey is black. It's jacked up, but it's true."


I'm sorry people said those things to you. I agree with the others who said to write the story YOU want to write.

I remember while I was growing, DESPERATELY looking for YA with a girl who looked like me. Or a girl who was like me--black but with light light light skin. I never found one. There are people out there who want to read these types of characters--but you will have to fight to get them out there.

Almost anytime I see YA with PoC protagonists, it's an "urban" book that's written in such a dumb downed way I want to throw the book across the room, or it's about living in the ghetto or teenage pregnancy or other stereotypical things. And there is a time and a place for those books for sure, but I loved Bleeding Violet because it wasn't about that.

It's so hard to find a balance because I see people asking for books with PoC but not to even talk about the being "of color" part. They want a book written like one with a white protag, but the main character just happens to be black or whatever...but God forbid anyone mentions that blackness. THAT is problematic also because I don't know about you, but there is not one day in my life that I am able to forget that I'm black. If I were to forget it, someone is all too happy to remind me of it. It's a part of me, so why wouldn't it be part of the character's? That doesn't mean the book has to be focused on her race and how it's this looming thing in her life, but it does need to be addressed--if that's the sort of story you're telling.

Cranky1
05-28-2013, 12:43 AM
I reject color-blindness as something to aspire to because whiteness is already the default status. If you listen to the radio and hear a voice coming through, in most cases, your mind's creation will be that of a white individual. To be blind to color means that you wish to be blind to the unusual; instead, we should seek to fall within the usual.

To feature a black MC means that you have delineated from the usual. It's almost like you are being impolite to the reader by forcing them to deconstruct their default image of who they can root for.

In my first book, my MC is a Black woman who looks more White than she does Black. Growing up, I had a neighbor like that. She had fair skin, freckles, hazel eyes, and auburn hair. I remember asking my mother why that White lady was married to that Black man, and my mother explained to me that they were both Black.

I like challenging traditional images related to phenotype and aesthetics. It is fascinating to me because I wonder if those of us who don't fit into a traditional mold have to overcompensate through behavior and speech in order to prove that we do belong.

Ronni
05-28-2013, 07:33 AM
I reject color-blindness as something to aspire to because whiteness is already the default status.

This times 1000000000000000.

Also, to embrace color blindness is to deny a very real aspect of that person. I was at a party a few years ago, and a white guy was talking to an Asian guy. I'm not sure how the subject of race came up, but the white guy said to the Asian guy "...but you, I don't even see you as Asian. I see you as one of us."

I cringed so much when he said that. Because on the surface, it sounds so...harmless, but deep down, it's not.

When I was in high school, I used to go around saying, "my race is human!" And in an ideal world, that's a beautiful way to think. But this world is not ideal. It's still riddled with racism and privilege and prejudice, so saying I'm "human" is not enough and probably won't for several more generations.


In my first book, my MC is a Black woman who looks more White than she does Black. Growing up, I had a neighbor like that. She had fair skin, freckles, hazel eyes, and auburn hair.

Ahh, I'd have LOVED something like that to read. I still would. Your former neighbor's traits are similar to my own. :) It's so rare that I find someone who looks like me in a book, on TV, in a movie, or in any sort of medium.

We desperately need more diverse representation in our media. More POSITIVE representation... despite the push back from the masses.

Cranky1
05-28-2013, 07:52 AM
This times 1000000000000000.

Also, to embrace color blindness is to deny a very real aspect of that person. I was at a party a few years ago, and a white guy was talking to an Asian guy. I'm not sure how the subject of race came up, but the white guy said to the Asian guy "...but you, I don't even see you as Asian. I see you as one of us."

I cringed so much when he said that. Because on the surface, it sounds so...harmless, but deep down, it's not.

Exactly! It's like when a white person tells a Black person that they are "well-spoken". What's not being is said is that they have an expectation for normal Black speech or behavior, but your ability to convey a message means that you no longer fit into the normal.



Ahh, I'd have LOVED something like that to read. I still would. Your former neighbor's traits are similar to my own. :) It's so rare that I find someone who looks like me in a book, on TV, in a movie, or in any sort of medium.

We desperately need more diverse representation in our media. More POSITIVE representation... despite the push back from the masses.

I'll keep you posted!

Kim Fierce
05-29-2013, 05:39 AM
Exactly! It's like when a white person tells a Black person that they are "well-spoken". What's not being is said is that they have an expectation for normal Black speech or behavior, but your ability to convey a message means that you no longer fit into the normal.






Yeah I used to know someone who told me he had a white acquaintance (friend?) who said to him, "You're not even black to me, man."

I think it's an example of the brainwashing that whites go through without even realizing it. I'm still trying to understand it myself. Because for some reason, as a white person who grew up in a mostly white town hearing some appalling things, I just never internalized the prejudice and racism. Don't ask me how or why because even some of the most well-intentioned people I know sometimes seem surprised to see things that don't fit into the stereotypes they grew up hearing about.

I have heard people say, "We don't see color." They think that is a good thing, and I just don't. Even with those best intentions I think it is still somehow ingrained into their brains that non-white equals bad, so we just have to pretend everyone is the same. And really it should be, all races and cultures can be "seen" and our differences celebrated, and sometimes we have more in common than we think and it just gets completely overlooked.

Dave.C.Robinson
05-29-2013, 05:58 AM
Yeah I used to know someone who told me he had a white acquaintance (friend?) who said to him, "You're not even black to me, man."

I think it's an example of the brainwashing that whites go through without even realizing it. I'm still trying to understand it myself. Because for some reason, as a white person who grew up in a mostly white town hearing some appalling things, I just never internalized the prejudice and racism. Don't ask me how or why because even some of the most well-intentioned people I know sometimes seem surprised to see things that don't fit into the stereotypes they grew up hearing about.

I have heard people say, "We don't see color." They think that is a good thing, and I just don't. Even with those best intentions I think it is still somehow ingrained into their brains that non-white equals bad, so we just have to pretend everyone is the same. And really it should be, all races and cultures can be "seen" and our differences celebrated, and sometimes we have more in common than we think and it just gets completely overlooked.

This is where I think the whole "Great American Melting-Pot" idea is so harmful, because it does give the impression that other cultures are just so much dross to be melted away. In Canada, the equivalent is the "Canadian Mosaic," with the idea that the country should be made up of all cultures and that their individuality and differences should be celebrated, and not melted away.

I'm not trying to argue that Canada somehow gets everything right, it has its own problems, but I do think that the mosaic idea has a lot of merit if only because it does recognize and celebrate difference.

kuwisdelu
05-29-2013, 06:08 AM
In Canada, the equivalent is the "Canadian Mosaic," with the idea that the country should be made up of all cultures and that their individuality and differences should be celebrated, and not melted away.

I'm not trying to argue that Canada somehow gets everything right, it has its own problems, but I do think that the mosaic idea has a lot of merit if only because it does recognize and celebrate difference.

I like that.

Dave.C.Robinson
05-29-2013, 06:18 AM
Right... Casper Van Dien sure nailed that. (And it was Buenos Aires in the movie, too.)

But that's the thing. If it isn't clear enough in the original novel, or important to the plot, people might drop it in the movie. Y'know, because The Audience Won't Go For It, or just because it never occurred to them while reading the book in the first place.

(It happens the other way 'round, too - Ford in the Hitch Hiker's Guide movie, Kurdy in the Jeremiah TV show... if it isn't important that they're white, producers do sometimes get away with changing their ethnicity. They do it for a much better reason, though. And on purpose.)

Actually, not only was Johnny Rico from Argentina, he was Filipino. There's a reference in the novel that he spoke Tagalog at home.

Max Vaehling
05-29-2013, 02:10 PM
I think it's an example of the brainwashing that whites go through without even realizing it. I'm still trying to understand it myself. Because for some reason, as a white person who grew up in a mostly white town hearing some appalling things, I just never internalized the prejudice and racism.

Me neither. Mostly because it usually came from people whose judgment I wouldn't trust anyway. Grown-ups and all.

But I did internalize the white default, mostly because the area I grew up in was so white that I had to learn about diversity from the TV and well-meaning substitute teachers.

pagesinstages
06-27-2013, 07:03 PM
Honestly, I think the mixed-race character you have works perfectly for the story you want to tell. Her French/Creole ancestry is reason enough for her to be in Paris. Just out of curiosity, does the New Orleans origin fit in with the magical aspects? Nola does have such a great tradition of mysticalness.

Your book sounds great. In bookstores I pass up almost everything with a pretty white face because that's not the kind of thing that grabs me. (I prefer a more conceptual cover, along the lines of "Graceling" or "Divergent.") If I was going to pick up a photo-face covered book, it would be for a POC character. :)

Liralen
06-27-2013, 09:11 PM
Yeah I used to know someone who told me he had a white acquaintance (friend?) who said to him, "You're not even black to me, man."

I think it's an example of the brainwashing that whites go through without even realizing it. I'm still trying to understand it myself. Because for some reason, as a white person who grew up in a mostly white town hearing some appalling things, I just never internalized the prejudice and racism. Don't ask me how or why because even some of the most well-intentioned people I know sometimes seem surprised to see things that don't fit into the stereotypes they grew up hearing about.

I have heard people say, "We don't see color." They think that is a good thing, and I just don't. Even with those best intentions I think it is still somehow ingrained into their brains that non-white equals bad, so we just have to pretend everyone is the same. And really it should be, all races and cultures can be "seen" and our differences celebrated, and sometimes we have more in common than we think and it just gets completely overlooked.

I can see your point, but I've found that often what's meant is that they see a person, not a race or ethnic background.

Personally, I love ethnic backgrounds and hearing people tell me about theirs; it's like a wonderfully fascinating story, but you have to be so careful about asking or even bringing up the subject. Most Caucasians don't even consider that we have ethnic backgrounds . . . and, in my experience, it's pretty rare to meet someone of a non-Caucasian background who considers it either. And yet, among ourselves, we Caucasians can harbor strong animosity toward each other based on ethnicity!

And really, we aren't even properly "Caucasian," at least most of us aren't.

Makes life a lot easier if you just consider the person.

Rachel Udin
06-28-2013, 07:21 PM
I can see your point, but I've found that often what's meant is that they see a person, not a race or ethnic background.

Personally, I love ethnic backgrounds and hearing people tell me about theirs; it's like a wonderfully fascinating story, but you have to be so careful about asking or even bringing up the subject. Most Caucasians don't even consider that we have ethnic backgrounds . . . and, in my experience, it's pretty rare to meet someone of a non-Caucasian background who considers it either. And yet, among ourselves, we Caucasians can harbor strong animosity toward each other based on ethnicity!

And really, we aren't even properly "Caucasian," at least most of us aren't.

Makes life a lot easier if you just consider the person.
May be regional then. I've heard Russians talk about being Russian. Italians talk about Italian (Minority within the white power group, granted and not caucasian). Even Jews talking about being Jewish (It's kinda an ethnic background for a long reason that people outside of it don't quite get.) And Brits talk about being British... But that may be because I'm from the NE. I hear it a lot less in the SW US.

I think what is true is that white is kinda considered the "default" and thus automatically "human" (in cultural terms). What is human is determined by culture.

I've found that most dominant power classes have that luxury of ignoring the minority power group's culture when the reverse isn't true. Mostly the minority power group is often forced to code switch in order to get ahead. This may contribute the the idea of "don't have a race" idea. In another words, as a dominant power group, somewhere along the line it's easier to point out the other, than it is to admit one shares in it. (I'm not sure the last bit makes sense. So "normal" v. "Name for the other".)

This also shows up in standards of beauty as well.

Liralen
06-28-2013, 09:00 PM
Down here (southeastern U.S.) I've run into a lot of the attitude that if you're of The Non-Colorful Race and celebrate your own ethnic roots it somehow translates into "you're a bigot, a racist." I've yet to figure out that line of logic. One doesn't negate the other, and when I go back and look, I see many parallels and commonalities between my (mainly Celt) roots, African roots and AmerIndian roots in particular.

The more I dig and read and listen and compare, the more I'm convinced that even though there are some positively glorious and fascinating differences, there may be, farther back, even deeper and more intriguing kindred threads.

So why can't we be different -- ALL of us -- and indulge our curiosities and questions and talk to each other about those differences without it turning into some sort of one-up, "you're a racist, no YOU'RE the racist" stupidity?

Rachel Udin
06-28-2013, 11:43 PM
Down here (southeastern U.S.) I've run into a lot of the attitude that if you're of The Non-Colorful Race and celebrate your own ethnic roots it somehow translates into "you're a bigot, a racist." I've yet to figure out that line of logic. One doesn't negate the other, and when I go back and look, I see many parallels and commonalities between my (mainly Celt) roots, African roots and AmerIndian roots in particular.

The more I dig and read and listen and compare, the more I'm convinced that even though there are some positively glorious and fascinating differences, there may be, farther back, even deeper and more intriguing kindred threads.

So why can't we be different -- ALL of us -- and indulge our curiosities and questions and talk to each other about those differences without it turning into some sort of one-up, "you're a racist, no YOU'RE the racist" stupidity?
I think it's veering off topic because it's getting away from beauty.

There is a spectrum of human behavior for each individual.

The thing that outgroups v. ingroups don't get is that people aren't made up of 100% differences and 100% sameness. With a long, long history of exoticism and making a philia out of whatever, it causes issues where you aren't 100% sure if the person likes you for who you are versus what ideal they think you are based on some stereotype they have of your group being X. (Is that too academic?)

On the other extreme, you get "there are no differences" which is equally insulting because then you can't address baseline problems of what was already created.

So you need a basic tenant of, "Differences are beautiful and how people choose to define it for themselves is equally beautiful." Unfortunately this does not usually fly with the general public who want to categorize everyone into black and white (the categorization extremes) into one or the other rather than a continuous gray of self definition versus the larger society. And by extension, good and evil. (Though this extreme binary seems to be somewhat the result of the Judeo Christian system, since this delineation isn't as strict in other cultures.)

I think the basic take away is that humans want to make life simpler by grouping/categorization (thus why industrialization tends to create more bureaucracy...) thus feeling like they belong, but also be recognized for their individual selves. What stereotyping and prejudice does is pretty much rob that from people so they are screwed either way. And the grouping to that extreme takes away a lot of the time and effort one could spend getting to know someone for their individual selves so one doesn't have to worry about it.

I hope that makes sense... (I get I'm combining Sociology, psychology and anthropology to make that hypothesis.)

But back to topic, you can pretty much apply the former to why beauty shaped up the way it did. Add some male pressure in it too.

LocalWriter
05-08-2014, 06:34 AM
Oh dear, please don't change her race. :(

And with regard to marketability, remember that there are people out there starved for POC protagonists. If you have a white girl as your MC, you'll be competing with every other white-girl-heroine YA fantasy. But if you have a POC MC, you have a better chance of building word-of-mouth among people who are specifically looking for POC protagonists.

At least that's my prediction. :) Speaking personally, I am WAY more likely to pick up a book with a POC protagonist, because I just never see enough of them!

very good points!

aruna
05-08-2014, 06:49 AM
Right now, immediately after the "we need diverse books" campaign that went viral, might be an ideal time to submit this book -- agents and publishers are waking out of their slumber! Good luck!

M.N Thorne
05-08-2014, 12:23 PM
OP, I hope you stay true to your character. Her heritage sounds wonderful. Actually, I have written a very popular Creole character from the Caribbean. I would have to agree there is need for more characters of African descent in the literary world. Mixed race people are often left out as well.

Quotidianlight
05-08-2014, 01:55 PM
I agree with many of the above posters. Both the story and the ancestry of your characters sound wonderful and interesting. My bio family is from New Orleans and growing up, I didn't look like other black people where I lived. AFAIK, I wasn't mixed since I had pictures of my parents and they looked black. I never felt at home, until I went to New Orleans and saw an entire town of people that look like me. Many people don't know the history of plaçage or blacks in France. It WAS common especially as a way to educate young mixed free offspring of white placées. Your book, while being interesting will educate. I wish you well.

BTW: next time someone gives you a hard time about your character being "almost white anyway" please remind them The feast of all saints and The Island Beneath The Sea.

tko
05-15-2014, 08:32 PM
Jeez. Just keep her black. It fits, it's good, and it will elevate your story. Average is boring.

Lets take that detective out of his wheelchair, because he'll appeal to more people. Shouldn't make Jack Reacher a giant - because who will we find to portray him in the movie?

Pretty white girls may sell to some people. But is that person who you want to write to?

Technically, skin color isn't important. But you can use the trappings that go with it to elevate your novel, and increase the conflict, tension, and interest. I'm betting that using the character you want will elevate your game.

I'm just an average white guy. But if I had to choose between your novel as proposed, and a version featuring a white girl, I'd pick the first version hands down.

Aubrey is 3/4 white and 1/4 black. She is practically white anyway.

I'd make her 3/4 black and 1/4 white. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif

All I see is pretty white faces staring back at me on book covers. The books with POC leads and POC book-covers are very, very slim. Or the book cover is white-washed to hide the fact that the main character is POC.

Isn't this a good reason for changing things? Because it's not right. Not that it's your job to change the world, but still . . .

I doubt there were lots of black people trotting around Paris back then. Let's try and be realistic. Make her white.

I don't know if this is true, but if it is, isn't this the best reason for keeping her black? Conflict, uniqueness, and atmosphere drives novels. Making her fit in is the opposite of what you want. Realistic is BORING. Make her not fit in, then fight it.