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Missus Akasha
10-28-2013, 04:33 PM
NaNoWri is literally around the corner. I have changed what story I am going to write like ten times. Now I have officially settled on one story idea. It's a fantasy story heavily inspired by one of the greatest pieces of child literature. I am planning it out. Creating character profiles. Though there is one main character, there are three secondary characters who basically get just as much screentime in the book and are important.

My main character is a white boy who has a 7-year-old biracial (white/black) sister from one of his mother's later marriages. This is the first time I have ever written a white guy as my main character. White guys always as a secondary character in my stories. I normally write black female characters as the leads. However, I wanted to do an experiment.

So I have a:
A British-American white guy (British mother, American father)
A dark-skinned British girl of African descent
A Korean-Russian guy (not half white Russian/Korean, but he was born and raised in Russia by Korean parents who were born and raised in Russia. Yes, they do exist there!)
Quebec Cree girl

The world they are basically kidnapped into is filled with talking and walking animals aside from a handful of characters who are appear to be human or are actually human. Even then those characters will look of different races.

I am very tired of books with all white characters. I know it isn't really the fault of the authors. I know they are probably writing what they know or are too scared to write a character outside of their own race in fear of criticism or offending someone. I am not scared. Maybe it's because I've always been in the minority being a black female living in the South. I embrace genuine diversity in YA books.

However, in a book market where the majority of all main characters are white, are rainbow casts too much? How much diversity is too much diversity?

Please talk me out of having adding a Nigerian boy from the Czech Republic (Yes, they exist!) trying to rescue his Roma girlfriend or the half-white Australian/Maori girl from New Zealand who is a ruthless and skilled killer. I don't think I'll be able to stop. I have no self control.

London89
10-28-2013, 04:57 PM
I would love to see more diversity with regards to the sex and race of all story characters - in literature and film/TV. I think the more people start diversifying their characters the more the readers/audience will become accustomed to it, to the point that it becomes the norm, and - hopefully - white male protagonists no longer control the monopoly...

So, (in my opinion) go for it! :D


...Although be aware that this probably wont be considered 'commercial.'

And as for people only writing what they know -- get to know! It's our job! :Headbang: The same way that male authors write about female characters, and vice versa, or about characters of a different age or social-economic background than themselves, you can write about characters of a different race to yourself. :gaah Rant over!

JulianneQJohnson
10-28-2013, 05:15 PM
In any group, there tends to be a dominant race/culture. Then there might be a person or two that differs. That's not prejudice, that's humanity's tendency to flock with birds of a feather. There is nothing at all wrong with having a rainbow cast, but I cannot help but think of commercials that are "trying too hard." For example, Oh look! It's the white girl, the black girl, and the Asian girl, and they've all gotten together to talk about feminine hygiene!
I guess what I'm trying to say in my "I've only had one cup of coffee this morning" way, is that you should try to walk that fine line between realistic, and trying too hard.

Wilde_at_heart
10-28-2013, 05:38 PM
What JulianneQJohnson said. Or the various adverts aimed at teens trying to do a 'one of each'.

Though I'd like to add that there are plenty of books out there where the MCs are barely described at all. The reader often makes assumptions, based partly on lack of cues the MC is non-white, but also the assumption that 'non-whites' must have 'non-white names' or not live in the suburbs or what have you. Basically, without explicit description (and even then, sometimes) the reader is bound to 'default' unless it involves a degree of 'stereotyping' of some sort throughout. That's where I think 'pick one or two' is probably more effective than trying to include 'everyone'.

It partly depends on where the story is set though. Such a diverse range is a lot more believable in a large, cosmopolitan city or a tourist spot than a small town somewhere remote. Having said that, afaik, an author can get away with being more 'heavy handed' with younger audiences.

Missus Akasha
10-28-2013, 05:41 PM
The funny thing is I have Asian friends and plenty of white friends and we always get together and have a good time. I have friends of lots of races and they are friends with each other. We hang out, get drunk, and do all those things early 20-somethings do. So for me, having a diverse cast of characters is realistic. Writing about rainbow casts is something that I know.

Plus, they don't know each other prior to the story starting. They are basically forced to go to this fantasy world and meet each other after dire circumstances are revealed.

I understand "trying too hard", but it returns to the question of how much diversity is too much? If you say that a simple commercial of a white girl, a black girl, and an Asian girl is could be deemed as "trying too hard" then the commercial be more accepting if it was two black girls and an asian girl or two white girls and a black girl? Is that the right amount of diversity or is that still "trying too hard"?

That is my question. That is my dilemma.

I get that this story most definitely isn't "commercial". People would probably say the story is unrealistic. Well, it kind of is considering it takes place in a fantasy world that defies natural logic and understanding of what we think and how we do things in the human world. It has talking and walking-on-two-feet animals, lol.

However, I can counter and say what is unrealistic is novels and TV shows with entirely white casts and no diversity in sight but it is deemed as "acceptable", "relatable", and "realistic". If that is what "commercial" is then I don't think I would want my book labeled as such.

Corinne Duyvis
10-28-2013, 07:18 PM
I struggle with this every single book I write--in terms of ethnicity, but also sexuality and disability, and all combinations thereof. Double and triple minorities abound.

Examples:
1) The book in my sig has a disabled Mexican-American protag and a disabled, queer WoC protag; important secondary characters include protag #1's Mexican-American family--who identify as Native/Nahua--a fat, queer WoC, and a disabled MoC.
2) In my previous WIP, I had two protags with albinism--one a CSA survivor, the other part Latina and queer.
3) In my current WIP, my MC is an autistic black girl with a trans sister, plus several other characters who are PoC/queer/disabled/some combination thereof.

I feel continually conflicted. On one hand, we don't see nearly enough minority characters, and particularly protagonists, and I want fiercely to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Straight, white, and abled is not the Default Human Being with minority accessories simply tacked on. One kind of person should not be considered normal, with everyone else being an outlier and requiring justification.

On the other hand, I'm starting to feel increasingly self-conscious about writing what I do and sharing it with others. I can already see people thinking, "Oh, of COURSE this character is queer, of COURSE that one's trans, oh sure, interracial lesbian parents, and this and that and . . ." and that's where the trying-too-hard fear comes in.

That fear goes hand-in-hand with the fear of appropriation. I feel extra worried about writing minority groups I don't belong to. I don't want to get it wrong, either in terms of what's actually on the page or my approach. (Too much? Too little?)

So . . . I don't know if one can objectively say that rainbow casts are Bad and other casts are Good. I think it's always going to be filtered through the eyes of the reader. One reader may roll their eyes at certain characters while other readers may be squealing in joy to finally find someone like themselves, or see a world that more accurately reflects their own.

I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing as much as I can, because I'd rather do too much than too little. Still, I'm petrified of the day my editor goes, "Er, can we tone it down a little?" I'll be equal parts knee-jerk "NO, how could you even ask that?" and "Maybe she has a point and I am trying too hard . . ."

I'm not sure if any of that is really helpful to you. Sorry; I'm just musing aloud. But at least you know you're not alone! :)

LJ Hall
10-28-2013, 07:50 PM
I'm a big fan of rainbow casts in novels where it fits. You'd have a harder time populating a novel set in a tiny farm town in Nebraska with a full rainbow, but if it's downtown in some major city, or if you're a fantasy writer, or sci-fi, where the entire world is up to you, then there's no excuse to not have some kind of diversity.

Putputt
10-28-2013, 08:47 PM
It does hit me a little bit as trying too hard, but because of their nationalities, not their race. For example, I wouldn't blink an eye if your novel's set in California and most of the characters are Californian but made up of different races, say one Asian, two black, one white, one mixed race and so on. But the very unique nationalities you have going on for each and every main character kinda makes me do a double take as it is.

Maryn
10-28-2013, 09:20 PM
I get a trying-too-hard feel as well, unless your plot explains how these people came together because of forces outside their control. All you're missing is one who's disabled and one who's bipolar, you know?

But, if they're together due entirely to circumstance which makes perfect sense within the world of your novel, then my objection melts away.

Maryn, whose daughter's high school friends were 3 white, 1 Indian, 1 Chinese, 1 Orthodox Jew (also white)

Missus Akasha
10-28-2013, 09:36 PM
These characters are forcibly taken from their part of the world and tossed into a violent fantasy world. This is beyond their control. I didn't want the overall story to be "Lots of American teenagers are kidnapped into a fantasy world." What about other countries and ethnicities? Why just American teenagers? Would it be more acceptable if all of the characters shared the same skin color but kept their orginial ethnicities (British, Czech, Australian, Canadian, American)?

I just wanted to evenly distribute the concept of teenagers being kidnapped from all over Earth (not just one concentrated area) and taken into a different fantasy world.

Each character has something to bring to the table. Their race and ethnicity is apart of them, but it doesn't impact the story. There will not be any racial tensions or issues. They have other important things to worry about like making it out of the world alive.

Maryn
10-28-2013, 11:13 PM
These characters are forcibly taken from their part of the world and tossed into a violent fantasy world. This is beyond their control. I didn't want the overall story to be "Lots of American teenagers are kidnapped into a fantasy world." What about other countries and ethnicities? Why just American teenagers? Would it be more acceptable if all of the characters shared the same skin color but kept their orginial ethnicities (British, Czech, Australian, Canadian, American)?

I just wanted to evenly distribute the concept of teenagers being kidnapped from all over Earth (not just one concentrated area) and taken into a different fantasy world.

Each character has something to bring to the table. Their race and ethnicity is apart of them, but it doesn't impact the story. There will not be any racial tensions or issues. They have other important things to worry about like making it out of the world alive.Then it does make sense in context--especially if you have a reason it's all teenagers, not mixed ages.

It seems odd they're all English speakers and there's nobody Asian, though. Still, if you have a plausible reason, that's all it takes. Are they specifically chosen as individuals, each with something they bring which is somewhat unique?

(I can't imagine the frustration of a group of teens who cannot communicate under such dire circumstances, so all speaking English seems necessary for the concept to work.)

Maryn, trying not to discourage, only throw out questions

lolchemist
10-28-2013, 11:26 PM
I'm born and raised in New York City so your fiction seems like reality to me! But I agree with tapering it down a bit too. First you have the Korean guy who lives in Russia (which is great! He speaks two languages! Awesome!) But then you have the Nigerian guy who lives in Czech Rep. And an Australian/Maori from New Zealand it's like you're just piling it on for double-diversity points or something.

Can't your Nigerian guy JUST be from Nigeria? Can't your Australian Maori from NZ just be a Maori with some white ancestry from NZ? Etc. Etc.

When the reader pulls back and goes "Wait... What?" too many times, you will end up losing them. You already have a great excuse for the diversity in that kids are being taken from different parts of the world but it's a bit "WAT???" That ALL the kids seem to be multi-culti immigrants too, you know what I mean? You mightend up alienating readers.

cornflake
10-28-2013, 11:39 PM
I'm born and raised in New York City so your fiction seems like reality to me! But I agree with tapering it down a bit too. First you have the Korean guy who lives in Russia (which is great! He speaks two languages! Awesome!) But then you have the Nigerian guy who lives in Czech Rep. And an Australian/Maori from New Zealand it's like you're just piling it on for double-diversity points or something.

Can't your Nigerian guy JUST be from Nigeria? Can't your Australian Maori from NZ just be a Maori with some white ancestry from NZ? Etc. Etc.

When the reader pulls back and goes "Wait... What?" too many times, you will end up losing them. You already have a great excuse for the diversity in that kids are being taken from different parts of the world but it's a bit "WAT???" That ALL the kids seem to be multi-culti immigrants too, you know what I mean? You mightend up alienating readers.

This.

It begins to read like the reading passages on the SAT, where, in an effort to be inclusive, everyone is some bizarre, unlikely mix of ancestry and religion. Like, there'll be a passage about a Chinese Jewish immigrant living in an entirely Southern Baptist town.

It's not that any of your combinations on their own are impossible or anything, but throw them all together and it begins to get 'really? No one is just like, French from France, or was born and raised in Nebraska by pasty cornhuskers?'

slhuang
10-28-2013, 11:57 PM
Given the premise you expanded on in #10, I find your cast not to be diverse *enough,* honestly. Britain, the Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, and America seems decidedly slanted toward Western nations. If you were picking five people from around the world randomly, I'd definitely expect at least one East Asian or South Asian character, or possibly both. (See this map (http://io9.com/more-than-half-of-the-worlds-population-lives-inside-t-493103044): more than half the world's population is within the circle, which would make 2-3 of your characters Asian or Indian.)

When I'm doing "people randomly selected from around the world," I use this (http://www.100people.org/statistics_detailed_statistics.php) and scale the proportions appropriately. I don't aim to fit it exactly, but I use the numbers as a guide to see if my demographic breakdown is at least reasonably matching reality. Notice that if you pull 5 people, it'd be perfectly realistic not to have any of them be from North America and to have 3 of them from Asia. Whereas your breakdown has several people from North America and nobody from Asia, which feels skewed to me.

Also, remember that your characters won't all come from the same socioeconomic background (unless for some reason this plays into their selection). If you're randomly selecting teenagers, I would expect some of them to come from extremely poor, underprivileged backgrounds and thus have cultural viewpoints diametrically opposed to their middle- and upper-class peers in the group. Notice that in the breakdown from the above link, you might expect 1 out of the 5 to be illiterate, not have clean drinking water, and not have had access to electricity. This would affect characterization significantly, I would think . . .

Missus Akasha
10-29-2013, 12:19 AM
Then it does make sense in context--especially if you have a reason it's all teenagers, not mixed ages.

It seems odd they're all English speakers and there's nobody Asian, though. Still, if you have a plausible reason, that's all it takes. Are they specifically chosen as individuals, each with something they bring which is somewhat unique?

(I can't imagine the frustration of a group of teens who cannot communicate under such dire circumstances, so all speaking English seems necessary for the concept to work.)

Maryn, trying not to discourage, only throw out questions

I do have someone who is Asian, Korean to be exact. He was born in Russia just like his parents. Back in one of my former courses for my education degree, I met this girl whose background was the next same. Her parents were Koreans born and raised in Russia. She was also born in Russia. The only difference is that she moved to the United States with her family as a child.

As for the speaking English situation, he has a decent grasp of English. It's not great.

@lolchemist, the only person who is a "multi-cultural" immigrant is my Korean-Russian. Everyone else is very common and standard. There are people who are half Maori, half Australian (I based this character off of one my favorite actresses, Keisha Castle-Hughes). There are plenty of black British people in the UK. The Cree tribe have been in Quebec longer anyone else.

I might remove my Nigerian guy. I might get the confusion, but how can that alienate my readers? You could say the exact same thing about a story in a entirely fantasy world with their own logic and its own races and ethnicities of people. That could potentially alienate a reader too, but writers still write it because they flesh out the characters and the world along the way, so the reader can feel comfortable reading it.

@cornflake, for me, that is kind of like accepting this assumption that there aren't people of different races and ethnicities don't verge out of their homeland. Most Asians stay in Asia. Most Africans stay in Africa. Cree Indians are some reserve somewhere.

If I removed two of my characters like the Cree girl and the Maori/Australian girl, would that even out the "trying too hard"?

Missus Akasha
10-29-2013, 12:27 AM
I am just going to delete this story from my mind. It seems to be like no matter what direction I want to go, it would be me trying too hard. So I'll write something else for NaNoWriMo. Thanks for the responses.

To add: slhuang, the characters I mentioned are important to the main plot. I actually have one Indian girl and a Japanese boy, who are minor characters within the story. They are also kidnapped and taken to this fantasy world as well. There are ten teenagers in total who are kidnapped. This isn't the first time this has happened. Six of them are unique to the plot. The other four of them such as the Indian girl, the Japanese boy, and two other characters are introduced and encountered throughout the story.

lolchemist
10-29-2013, 01:12 AM
I meant 'alienating' in a 'what's going on here? I'm so confused!I think I'm going to put this book down and look at something easier.' sort of way but maybe it was too harsh a word to use because I didn't mean for it to have effect on you that it did.

I think you could KEEP all your characters just the way they are (although I would STRONGLY suggest that the Nigerian guy come from somewhere in Africa, because like other people said, it DOES seem like all your kids are being taken from "White" (for the lack of better word) countries) Even your Korean gets taken from Russia, you know what I mean?

But yeah, I think you should NOT forget this story and just flesh it you and work on it for Nano. I see a good story in here and for a change, there is at least GOOD REASON for the people in your cast to end up together! Forget 'trying too hard' and write it. It has potential.

Putputt
10-29-2013, 02:13 AM
These characters are forcibly taken from their part of the world and tossed into a violent fantasy world. This is beyond their control. I didn't want the overall story to be "Lots of American teenagers are kidnapped into a fantasy world." What about other countries and ethnicities? Why just American teenagers? Would it be more acceptable if all of the characters shared the same skin color but kept their orginial ethnicities (British, Czech, Australian, Canadian, American)?

I just wanted to evenly distribute the concept of teenagers being kidnapped from all over Earth (not just one concentrated area) and taken into a different fantasy world.

Each character has something to bring to the table. Their race and ethnicity is apart of them, but it doesn't impact the story. There will not be any racial tensions or issues. They have other important things to worry about like making it out of the world alive.

Were they chosen selectively to be kidnapped or taken at random? If it's the first, then I guess that's fine...but if it's the latter, I'd suggest switching half of them so that their races match their nationalities (i.e. the Korean character is from Korea instead of Russia etc). Otherwise, it does seem really bizzare that everyone happens to be a unique mix of ancestry and nationality. Is there a reason why they all have to be this unique mix?

slhuang
10-29-2013, 02:24 AM
I meant 'alienating' in a 'what's going on here? I'm so confused!I think I'm going to put this book down and look at something easier.' sort of way but maybe it was too harsh a word to use because I didn't mean for it to have effect on you that it did.

I think you could KEEP all your characters just the way they are (although I would STRONGLY suggest that the Nigerian guy come from somewhere in Africa, because like other people said, it DOES seem like all your kids are being taken from "White" (for the lack of better word) countries) Even your Korean gets taken from Russia, you know what I mean?

But yeah, I think you should NOT forget this story and just flesh it you and work on it for Nano. I see a good story in here and for a change, there is at least GOOD REASON for the people in your cast to end up together! Forget 'trying too hard' and write it. It has potential.

^^This, especially the part I bolded. I didn't mean to discourage you either! Only to give you other food for thought as you write it. :tongue I don't think anyone here thinks you shouldn't write this story; I think we're all more in the mind of, "consider this! and this!" (which I admit *can* sound very discouraging when you're on the other side of it, but I don't think we mean it that way -- I certainly didn't).

Maybe this idea is something less-suited to Nano, since it might take some research, but if you've got a story you want to write here, I think you should write it. :D I'd encourage you to consider the feedback you've gotten here in tweaking your ideas, but I don't see anything inherently problematic or anything.

cornflake
10-29-2013, 06:29 AM
@cornflake, for me, that is kind of like accepting this assumption that there aren't people of different races and ethnicities don't verge out of their homeland. Most Asians stay in Asia. Most Africans stay in Africa. Cree Indians are some reserve somewhere.

If I removed two of my characters like the Cree girl and the Maori/Australian girl, would that even out the "trying too hard"?

Of course there are people of different races and of course people venture out of their places of origin, both personal and ethnic. However, not ALL of them do.

I live in an exceedingly diverse city. I heard people speaking French, Russian, I think Haitian Creole/French, an Asian language I can't identify and another one I couldn't identify today just going to work and running errands. I know people with interesting and unusual backgrounds.

However, same as the show Friends was notable, given it was set in NYC, for lacking pretty much any people of colour or various ethnicities among the cast or people the cast interacted with, so would I have found it strange if the entire cast was made up of a Korean girl from Russia, etc., etc.

Which isn't to say I think you shouldn't write it or anything. You asked if they were bad - no one said it was bad, just said the specific collection you proposed sounded unrealistic.

J.S.F.
10-29-2013, 07:05 AM
From a white middle-aged dude who has written predominantly about white characters, here's my two yen for what they're worth on the open market. I'd have to agree with the "you're trying too hard to be inclusive of everyone" idea put forth by JulianneQJohnson and other posters.

There's nothing wrong with having a diverse cast. Nothing. There's nothing wrong with having a person or people of color as the MC('s). But from what you wrote about the descriptions of your characters, it seems like you're trying to toss in every combination and permutation around, almost as if you're afraid of leaving something or someone out.

The problem is, even with a dystopian novel such as what you're writing, is that the ethnicities/races might overwhelm the reader, as in "Okay, Lars is a Scandinavian name, but his mother's a French Creole while his father had an Aborigine mother." (I know that sounds silly, but I'm using an extreme example). I think the readers would be more interested in character development as opposed to wondering just how many races/ethnic groups are involved.

My two yen. I genuinely like the idea, but sometimes too much is just as bad as not enough.

Missus Akasha
10-29-2013, 04:16 PM
I wanted to try something different with this story. I am done with the story idea because the direction I was going to go would have exploded everyone's minds even more. I was going to add more races and ethnicities and go all out because the fantasy world they were going to be taken to was Wonderland. Each of them were Alice in their own way. There is no real reasoning behind why they were taken. They were kidnapped randomly around the world. Wonderland doesn't have normal logic. I can understand where it could have been overwhelming, but my characters' ethnicities would have been the readers' least of their worries when they are busy killing each other or trying to stay alive.

The overload of diversity would have complimented the talking animals and plants, the Card Army, and the evil Queen of Hearts. The story was meant to have a different logic behind the reasoning that can't be understood by us in the normal sense. For those who didn't speak English very well or not at all like the Korean-Russian guy, the characters within Wonderland speak all languages if necessary because it is built upon the imagination of all children around the world. No the other characters probably couldn't speak it. However, that imitates real world.

I used to teach Pre-Kindergarten and I had plenty of children who were from Spanish families and Chinese families who didn't speak a lick of English and I didn't know their languages either. Yet I knew how to communicate with the parents and I knew how to teach the children. Not understanding a language would be a little frustrating to the other characters, but that's life. It wouldn't be any different if they went encountered someone who is Korean at work or at school or at home. It's something unavoidable, but is adjustable. You would have to find a way to communicate with each other. A common ground.

And I apologize for any misunderstanding. This is not a dystopian novel by any means. This story is fantasy all the way.

slhuang
10-29-2013, 04:41 PM
Um, this sounds pretty fantastic and I think you should write it.

Also, given your larger-than-life feel, I think your character diversity would not seem as out-of-place as people initially thought. That tone adds an important context we didn't have before. :)

Wilde_at_heart
10-29-2013, 05:33 PM
I wanted to try something different with this story. I am done with the story idea because the direction I was going to go would have exploded everyone's minds even more. I was going to add more races and ethnicities and go all out because the fantasy world they were going to be taken to was Wonderland. Each of them were Alice in their own way. There is no real reasoning behind why they were taken. They were kidnapped randomly around the world. Wonderland doesn't have normal logic. I can understand where it could have been overwhelming, but my characters' ethnicities would have been the readers' least of their worries when they are busy killing each other or trying to stay alive.

And I apologize for any misunderstanding. This is not a dystopian novel by any means. This story is fantasy all the way.

Now that idea, I quite like. The source of any misunderstanding was not enough relevant detail in the OP that would give us any context.

If that's the idea, then I think it could work, though as others have said, it does work better if individual people are described as less 'mixed'... Just makes it easier for the reader.

kevinwaynewilliams
10-29-2013, 06:00 PM
It won't be easy to write. You've read my WIP, where I was trying to juggle the fairly minor differences between Dominicans and Puerto Ricans and between the dialects of low-income blacks with island heritage and those without. That went slowly, and you know better than I do whether I actually succeeded. I finally added one adult white male to the mix just so that I could write dialog without having to work so hard.

Go for it, but budget time to research the backgrounds.

JulianneQJohnson
10-29-2013, 06:20 PM
Have a seat. Take a deep breath. Don't panic.

You asked for people's opinions, and folks gave them openly and honestly. You didn't like it. So much so that you are talking about not writing the story at all now. That would be a complete shame.

Now, it's yet another morning where I've only had one cup of coffee, so bear with me. What I see in this thread over and over is that folks are not bothered by the rainbow cast near as much as the fact that so many of the characters that you describe have more than one thing going on in their background. Certainly there are people in the world like that, but why not simplify slightly? Why not have your Korean born in Korea instead of Russia?

A little crit is no reason to not write a story. Take a few days to consider what was said, then consider making adjustments. Or tell us all to go to hell and write it the way you first planned. Take care asking for crit in the future, you come off as being a little thin-skinned in your responses. That's nothing to be ashamed of, it takes practice and time to get that thick skin going. But when the critters hear "well, I'm just not going to write it at all!" it sounds like "well, I don't like playing with you, so I'm taking my toys and going home!" It gives us, as critiquers, no where to go. You have given up, we have no further advice to give.

So, as I said, give it a few days for the crit to sink in, then see what you think of it. No one here is saying that your baby is ugly, they're just saying you might have gotten a little over-complicated.

Missus Akasha
10-29-2013, 06:54 PM
It might sound like I was getting offensive or offended, but I am not and I was not. I apologize if it looked like it. I think the lack of explaining why I chose the characters' backgrounds caused a lot of misunderstanding. So if any, I am disappointed in myself. I do appreciate the responses. It does give me a different view of things. It gives me a lot of things to consider. However, I do have a vision in mind and these characters are important to me. I don't think I could remove them to balance the scale. Their ethnicities have nothing to do with the actual story aside from showing that this kidnapping is having on a global scale and how they react and behave. Some are characters from upper crust, some in the middle, and some at the very bottom. I have done all of my research for the characters and their backgrounds. I still have a lot of research to go to make things perfect. I respect their backgrounds and their cultures and I truly hope to do them justice.

My orginial question was if rainbow cases are bad. No one said they were bad in a sense, but in a way, I am still confused. A lot of posters said the story was trying too hard. If I changed the Nigerian boy to be from Nigeria and not live in Czech Republic, would that be more acceptable? If I changed the Korean-Russian boy to being just from Korea, would that make the story more acceptable?

Or would it still be "trying too hard"? If I were to continue to write the story, I would probably make those changes. However, I don't think I would remove any of the characters because there is "too much" diversity. They are much too important to me and what I have in mind. The diversity of the story would have been an extreme negative point then a lot of readers wouldn't like what I had anyway because it would have gotten worse from there, lol. Hence, why I said I probably wouldn't write the story. It was a haste remark. However, I have poured so much into the story and with NaNo a few days away, I'll probably retract that statement and write the story.

So I am so sorry to any of you who felt like I was getting offensive. I really, really appreciate you taking the time of your day to respond to my dilemma.

Maybe I did overreact and I apologize for that. I guess I am just trying to figure out how to make this story work and keep the characters.

LJ Hall
10-29-2013, 08:55 PM
The scenario you described, aliens taking someone from all different parts of the world, is great. It means a rainbow cast is expected, not try-hard.

But yeah, maybe it would be a good idea to simplify their backgrounds, otherwise you have to spend pages on each character explaining why he's Korean but keeps saying da and nyet, and so on.

Ken
10-30-2013, 12:22 AM
... like everything else, a character's heritage should come from the story
and be integral to it. Not just somewhat so, but completely so. If it isn't
then it's going to feel artificial and forced and preachy. Granted, diversity
is a great thing to promote. But it's still preaching which is best left out of fiction.
It will most always mess up a story. So take a moment to consider things.
Are your characters like they are b/c that's what the story calls for or
b/c you want them to be like such and such? G'luck.
Writing, aside, I admire your perspective and aim.

Wilde_at_heart
10-30-2013, 12:35 AM
...
My orginial question was if rainbow cases are bad. No one said they were bad in a sense, but in a way, I am still confused. A lot of posters said the story was trying too hard. If I changed the Nigerian boy to be from Nigeria and not live in Czech Republic, would that be more acceptable? If I changed the Korean-Russian boy to being just from Korea, would that make the story more acceptable?

Or would it still be "trying too hard"?

I think it boils down to a matter of probability, especially if there is a 'random' component. The odds of one or two 'mixed' people aren't that remote, but beyond that, when you get together a random selection of people there's bound to be some 'clustering' of some sort for a start.

Given that both China and India have populations of a billion on top of people of Chinese or Indian origin scattered throughout the world, you're more likely to find someone from there than, say a tiny country like Czech.
Also, the odds of there being a Nigerian grabbed randomly from the streets of Prague are much less likely than someone who's Czech or Slovakian or even Australian. Meanwhile, Nigeria itself has a population of over 150 million, making a Nigerian from Nigeria much more probable than one from central Europe with less than a tenth that number of people.

TheNighSwan
10-30-2013, 02:09 AM
Given that both China and India have populations of a billion on top of people of Chinese or Indian origin scattered throughout the world, you're more likely to find someone from there than, say a tiny country like Czech.

It gets worst when you take into account neihbouring countries: I think something like almost 4 billion people leave in south and east Asia; Indonesia has almost 250 million people; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan and the Philippines all have well over 100 million people; Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar all have over 50 million, and South Korea isn't far from that mark either.

But that also depends *how* random the abduction is; say, if it's actually *geographically* random, then in that case population density and size doesn't really matter, and you're as likely to get an inhabitant from Shanghai or Mumbai than you're to get one from Funafuti or Nuuk.

Putputt
10-30-2013, 02:54 AM
My orginial question was if rainbow cases are bad. No one said they were bad in a sense, but in a way, I am still confused. A lot of posters said the story was trying too hard. If I changed the Nigerian boy to be from Nigeria and not live in Czech Republic, would that be more acceptable? If I changed the Korean-Russian boy to being just from Korea, would that make the story more acceptable?



That's exactly what I was suggesting. Given that they're being picked at random from all parts of the world, out of ten characters, you might, say, have a Korean from Korea, a Nigerian from Nigeria, a Chinese character from New York, a Fijian kid from Fiji, and so on. So the majority of the characters are of the race that makes up the majority of their country, with a couple of them being the exception. This way, you still have an extremely diverse cast, which is great, but it's also believable and doesn't come off as trying too hard with all the unique mix between nationality and race.

shaldna
10-30-2013, 03:58 AM
So I have a:
A British-American white guy (British mother, American father)
A dark-skinned British girl of African descent
A Korean-Russian guy (not half white Russian/Korean, but he was born and raised in Russia by Korean parents who were born and raised in Russia. Yes, they do exist there!)
Quebec Cree girl



Honestly, the term 'British character' makes my teeth squeak. It can be refering to someone from anyone of FOUR different countries.

Also, certain demographics tend to be very localised - for instance, certain areas will have a higher population of Inidan, African, Chinese etc. And how the characters talk, think and interact will be influenced by where they live etc.

For being such a small kingdom, Britain is very localised, and you'll find very distinct accents and culture develop in small areas,. with accents etc changing within a a mile or two in some instances.

So please, please research.

And don't ever refer to 'that British guy' or 'the British girl at the bar' because that term doesn't actually mean anything.

shaldna
10-30-2013, 04:06 AM
My orginial question was if rainbow cases are bad. No one said they were bad in a sense, but in a way, I am still confused.

Personally I dislike stories that are multi racial for no other reason than to be 'rainbow' or 'inclusive'. That's not real life and I personally find it a little patronising when a story is populated by multi-racial characters that are out of context with their upbrining, surroundings, social demographics, but seem to exist only to show ethnic diversity. It's almost like saying that a reader needs a white/black/asian character included just so they have something to identify with.



A lot of posters said the story was trying too hard. If I changed the Nigerian boy to be from Nigeria and not live in Czech Republic, would that be more acceptable? If I changed the Korean-Russian boy to being just from Korea, would that make the story more acceptable?

Why do you need the Nigerian to live in CR? Can he not just be Nigerian, or just Czech? What is the logic behind it? Is it to make the character more interesting? Unless it serves a purpose or matters to teh story, then I'd question why you need to do it.

Missus Akasha
10-30-2013, 04:56 AM
Firstly, the reason why I put British instead of say Irish, Scottish, English, or Welsh is because I am not quite sure yet if I want her to be English or Irish.

I didn't think it would make my Nigerian character more interesting. I was doing research for one of my courses (Teaching English as a Second Language) and I came across several articles about a small influx of Nigerian and other African (including African American) immigrants in the Czech Republic and how they are adjusting to their lives in the country. I was very intrigued and I fascinated by their personal experiences. At the time, I thought it would be interesting to write about a character who was Nigerian but lived in Czech. I probably will change it, but I was very intrigued by the articles and did further research on it.

As for the randomly kidnapped thing, I don't want to think too hard into either. It's a Young Adult NaNo project. It's random. It's the Queen of Hearts kidnapping teenagers randomly from around the world. I mean that's the best explanation I got, lol. I understand that China and India have the largest populations. Though I do not a Chinese character, I have one Korean, one Japanese, and one Indian character within the story.

And shaldna, I am sorry you dislike stories that are multi-cultural for no reason. However, I think you are skipping over the detail where I said that they were randomly kidnapped. So technically, the story is multi-cultural for a reason.

I never said that I wasn't going to ignore their upbringings and social demographics. In fact, I have mentioned several times within this thread that I have researched my behind off and that even though their ethnicities do not progress the plot aside from being kidnapped randomly, I would never neglect their backgrounds and how they respond to their new surroundings. Their decisions are based off of the lives they once had on Earth. Even if their logic does not match Wonderland's logic.

Thank you for all of your responses. It gives me a lot to think about.

slhuang
10-30-2013, 07:46 AM
I'm about a page behind this thread, but:


... like everything else, a character's heritage should come from the story
and be integral to it. Not just somewhat so, but completely so. If it isn't
then it's going to feel artificial and forced and preachy.

Wait a second. If a character's heritage should be integral to the story, then what about if it isn't? What heritage should the character have then? There's no such thing as the absence of race/ethnicity; if making a character a minority demographic *must* be important to the story, then isn't it equally true that making the character Caucasian *must* be important to the story?

And simply not describing people doesn't work either, because most readers default to seeing undescribed characters as white.

I'm sorry -- I simply don't agree that we should only describe race/ethnicity/heritage if it somehow drives the plot, or that everyone should be white unless there's a reason for a character to be otherwise. That's not the way humanity works -- we are what we are; we're not a specific heritage for plot reasons, not to mention that doing things the way you suggest reinforces white as the "default" state of a human being.

And to the OP: Take a deep breath and have a muffin. :D We were just throwing out various reactions to your question with the context we had. If you feel your setting/context negates any of the objections people raised, and nobody's brought up anything that you don't feel your book addresses, then I think you're fine. :) Honestly, we were just trying to answer your question as well as we could (and I know people sometimes skim long threads, so if some of your explanations were missed it doesn't mean anyone was being malicious, right? Right).

Polenth
10-30-2013, 11:25 AM
The issue isn't having a diverse cast, but how they're chosen. Your picks came across as odd because they didn't sound random, when they were supposed to be random. Of course, true random might also sound odd to readers (as a random coin flip can throw heads for an hour), so it needs a little smoothing out. As a worked example, this is what I mean.

This page lists countries by population: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

For 100 teens, you can use the figure given in the percentages. Chinese and Indian would dominate and a lot of countries would have one or fewer teens. For ten, the tops will seem more realistic if they're a little exaggerated (even if that isn't really realistic). So it might be something like:


3 China
2 India
1 Indonesia
1 Nigeria
1 UK
1 Brazil
1 Kiribati

The trick here is that if the top two are the two most populated countries in the world, and the others are a mix of places, people are more likely to go along with it. They're less likely if most of your countries are English-speaking (USA, UK, Canada, Australia would seem odd). Choosing one very small country helps, as that's your randomness-does-weird-things choice. The majority would be the racial majority group in that country. But you could flip a couple (like making your UKer Black British and one of the Chinese people non-Asian) and that would also seem random. Flip too many and it becomes too statistically odd for people to buy.

That's really the trick here. It's to figure out what would be a reasonable group for a random selection. And then tweaking just enough to get your favourites back in.

Putputt
10-30-2013, 11:46 AM
Honestly, the term 'British character' makes my teeth squeak. It can be refering to someone from anyone of FOUR different countries.

Also, certain demographics tend to be very localised - for instance, certain areas will have a higher population of Inidan, African, Chinese etc. And how the characters talk, think and interact will be influenced by where they live etc.

For being such a small kingdom, Britain is very localised, and you'll find very distinct accents and culture develop in small areas,. with accents etc changing within a a mile or two in some instances.

So please, please research.

And don't ever refer to 'that British guy' or 'the British girl at the bar' because that term doesn't actually mean anything.

I'm a little bit confused by this...so saying "that British guy" is offensive? I find that strange because Mr. Putt, who is English, refers to himself uses both "English" and "British" to describe himself.

Polenth
10-30-2013, 12:22 PM
I'm a little bit confused by this...so saying "that British guy" is offensive? I find that strange because Mr. Putt, who is English, refers to himself uses both "English" and "British" to describe himself.

In the USA and online I use British for the sake of clarity. But it's not how I self-describe usually. I'd just say I'm English. So it'd be common for an English person online, or living outside the UK, to say they're British. But it doesn't mean they grew up calling themselves that in a home context.

The issue is not really that British is a terrible insult. It's that it's often used to generalise out of a lack of understanding of the cultures. A person from the UK isn't likely to think, "Wow, another British person." They'll think of them by country at least, if not more specifically by region.

Ken
10-30-2013, 02:16 PM
I'm about a page behind this thread, but:



Wait a second. If a character's heritage should be integral to the story, then what about if it isn't? What heritage should the character have then? There's no such thing as the absence of race/ethnicity; if making a character a minority demographic *must* be important to the story, then isn't it equally true that making the character Caucasian *must* be important to the story?

And simply not describing people doesn't work either, because most readers default to seeing undescribed characters as white.

I'm sorry -- I simply don't agree that we should only describe race/ethnicity/heritage if it somehow drives the plot, or that everyone should be white unless there's a reason for a character to be otherwise. That's not the way humanity works -- we are what we are; we're not a specific heritage for plot reasons, not to mention that doing things the way you suggest reinforces white as the "default" state of a human being.

And to the OP: Take a deep breath and have a muffin. :D We were just throwing out various reactions to your question with the context we had. If you feel your setting/context negates any of the objections people raised, and nobody's brought up anything that you don't feel your book addresses, then I think you're fine. :) Honestly, we were just trying to answer your question as well as we could (and I know people sometimes skim long threads, so if some of your explanations were missed it doesn't mean anyone was being malicious, right? Right).

... nah. caucasian ain't teh default. never suggested such.
same about diversity, as defined. To me it means just that: diverse.
A cast of all white characters isn't. Nor all black, or Asian, etc.
There are some who define diversity as, "any cast other than white."
But I'm not really on board with that. There's something confrontational
about that, blemishing an otherwise neat term, meaning inclusiveness for ALL.
Again, my objection is when it's forced or imposed from without
rather than from within: from the characters, themselves, or from the story.
I suppose it could be ancillary. I guess I just don't approach things like
that myself. To me everything should be necessary and essential. Most
books I read are like that too. But of course that's just my perspective
and individual experience. Like you say, I am offering an opinion, not
saying anyone should DO THINGS THIS WAY OR ELSE !

;-)

Ken
10-30-2013, 02:25 PM
I am not quite sure yet if I want her to be English or Irish.

... this is a good way to go.
If you're not sure, delay and put it off.
Then return to it when the story is gains solidity.
By then questions of the sort usually become settled.
Not by the author, but by the characters and story.
IMO.

Missus Akasha
10-30-2013, 02:40 PM
I have 1 American character, 1 British character, 1 Indian character, 1 Japanese character, 1 Korean character, 1 Turkish character, 1 Nigerian character, 1 Maori/New Zealand character, 1 Brazilian character, and 1 Canadian/Cree character.

I have researched and researched for each character and their culture. I have also come to love each one too. I normally write African American girls as my leads. Please, remember that this is a NaNo project. I wanted to experiment writing a white American guy and a diverse supporting cast surviving in the harsh conditions of Wonderland. So yes, the statistics are more realistic, but this is the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland kidnapping children around the world. If I had legit scientific logic behind that then it really wouldn't be Alice in Wonderland, LOL?

Ken
10-30-2013, 02:46 PM
... seems sensible :-)

Kim Fierce
10-31-2013, 04:26 AM
I say write whatever characters you want, and that we need more diversity in books. My series The Divide has a cast of all multi-racial characters, set 200 years in the future. Part of the plot is that the gov't is trying to hide facts about history, including race, and the MC learns why in book 2. There was also a gov't plot behind trying to make a post-racial era, yet still separating some other citizens (all LGBT) from the rest in forced Gay Communities.

My MC is black/white female.
Then I have:
Black/Mexican/Puerto Rican female
Chinese/Japanese female
White/Native American (Cheyenne) female
Hispanic (not specified)/White guy

Some other people are just described as dark or tan or pale. But there are still people who speak Spanish as another language and who know about their ancestral cultures and keep family records. All this is in a dystopian world.

Latina Bunny
10-31-2013, 07:50 AM
So yes, the statistics are more realistic, but this is the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland kidnapping children around the world. If I had legit scientific logic behind that then it really wouldn't be Alice in Wonderland, LOL?

I think I understand what you are trying to say, but you asked for opinions, yes? I don't think anyone's saying that rainbow casts are bad, but the kinds of casts (of any sort) that don't match the demographics or fit the general time period or setting, etc, may be seen as contrived. Or "trying too hard"?

Still, even with Alice in Wonderland logic, we are still humans with human logic, and we would still think in human terms (in our current cultures and time frame), ya know?

Forgive me, I forgot something. Did you mention the time period of the Earth from which the "Alices" are taken from?

If it's a contemporary, modern/current time-frame, then, (like some of the other posters said), maybe you should consider the demographics/statistics and estimate the probability of what races are most likely to be "picked up" in these "random" abductions.

If it's the future or an alternative-world, I can more readily accept the variety of people with mixed ancestry or unusual backgrounds, etc, that you have here.

However, does the Queen in Wonderland have a reason for those particular people with unusual or mixed ancestry/background/etc? If she does, then you could be fine as long as it's mentioned why or how. :)

Anyway, if you just want to experiment and have fun, that's the purpose of NaNo, and you should experiment and enjoy the experience. :D

Tazlima
11-01-2013, 02:54 AM
In the USA and online I use British for the sake of clarity. But it's not how I self-describe usually. I'd just say I'm English. So it'd be common for an English person online, or living outside the UK, to say they're British. But it doesn't mean they grew up calling themselves that in a home context.

The issue is not really that British is a terrible insult. It's that it's often used to generalise out of a lack of understanding of the cultures. A person from the UK isn't likely to think, "Wow, another British person." They'll think of them by country at least, if not more specifically by region.

Of course it's used to generalize. The further you travel, the larger an area you have to name when asked where you're from. If I'm in Arizona, I'll name my hometown. If I'm elsewhere in the U.S., I say I'm from Arizona. If I'm in another country, I say I'm from the U.S. If I ever traveled in space, I'd say I was from Earth.

You're in a slightly different situation, I'll admit. I'd say people around the world are equally familiar with the terms "England" and "Great Britain," so it doesn't makes sense to name the larger area needlessly. (Likewise, if you're from California, Texas, or New York, there's really no need to move outward and say the U.S.)

It's not that I think people won't have heard of Arizona. It's more that people want an answer they can connect with easily, one that helps them form a mental image of where you're from. If the person you're talking to turns out to be familiar with the area and wants a more detailed answer, they'll ask.

I've always found it an interesting phenomenon. It never occurred to me to take offense.

Kim Fierce
11-14-2013, 07:18 AM
If it's a contemporary, modern/current time-frame, then, (like some of the other posters said), maybe you should consider the demographics/statistics and estimate the probability of what races are most likely to be "picked up" in these "random" abductions.

If it's the future or an alternative-world, I can more readily accept the variety of people with mixed ancestry or unusual backgrounds, etc, that you have here.


Maybe just living in a bigger city could help, too. I live in Indiana . . . lots of small, mostly white towns. But I currently live and work in a town with a lot of diversity, so the contemporary works I write use fictional versions of this town as a guideline.

And now I'm working on a new contemporary book so I'm going to use the same kind of basis for diversity. This is my NaNo project, and I'm writing a book about bullying called "Know Your Place." My MC is named Rylen and there's a lot of traits she has based on me, but not all. She's 16, white, has Asperger's, and doesn't really have any friends. But one day the jerk who picks on her most starts messing with her at lunch, and then turns on a freshman named Quintez who Rylen knows from study hall, a boy with Tourette's who is short, skinny, wears glasses, and is black. Rylen jumps up to defend him and the two form a sort of alliance. Even though Quintez is a straight-A student, and Rylen does well in everything except math, they have to go to the special ed room for study hall together with some other kids. Eventually two other freshmen join their group, both with ADHD: a white kid named Mark and a biracial (black/white) kid named Aiden. Quintez starts taking karate lessons and teaching the others, and they find other ways to try to protect themselves from being picked on. But another girl, a sophomore named Jada who can't hear, and whose Mom was born in China, and whose Dad was born in Hong King, also becomes interested in joining their group. Rylen and she become friends but now Rylen is worried. Her biggest secret could be discovered. She doesn't care if kids make fun of her and call her a loser, a freak, or even stupid, as long as they don't find out she's gay. And on top of all this, an adult role model who she trusts is going to betray her, so Rylen needs friends.

I thought it would be interesting to write a book where every main character has a physical or mental struggle to go through because I really haven't seen anything like that. Asperger's, Tourette's, ADHD, being deaf. All where the kids are potentially very smart but have problems where they get perceived as "different" or even stupid and are targets. And I want to show them being powerful and overcoming the jerks who won't leave them alone. The races of the characters just sort of came to me as I wrote, I didn't even have names for anyone at first. I want this to be inspirational for teenagers, and I hope I can make it work!

*ETA--there will be some racial struggles too but it's all just part of the story in general, of being against all forms of bullying and the kids who join together to try to change their own lives.

patskywriter
11-14-2013, 10:46 AM
After reading a comment by Ken ("… diverse. A cast of all white characters isn't. Nor all black, or Asian, etc."), I thought I'd just throw this out there for what it's worth.

I grew up in an almost all-black neighborhood in Chicago, and yet I describe it as very diverse. Many of the parents were from the deep South, and some, like my dad, were big-city folks. I grew up with Creoles, Catholics, Baptists, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and biracial kids (half-white, Japanese, and Vietnamese). There was a wide range of accents, foods, music, and customs … which leads me to feel that the way blacks are often portrayed on TV, movies, and books is way too simplistic and stereotypical.

And some all-white areas can be just as interesting when you have various ethnic groups and religions represented—they're not all the same either.

Ken
11-15-2013, 03:33 PM
... Chicago. "The Windy City."

So much so peeps'll be walking along
minding their own p's & q's when up comes a strong gust.
Next they know they're swept into someones arms -- or lap.
"Why hello there, Miss." "Likewise, able-bodied fella!" :-)

Accounts for your own congenial perspective mayhaps.
Will tend to it with aim of improving my own.
Always room for improvment. ALWAYS !

Kim Fierce
11-22-2013, 07:15 AM
Chicago . . . the only place I've been where a random person asked me for money and when I said I didn't have any, another stranger said, "Can you believe some people?" then asked me if I wanted to buy a necklace. LMAO.

Love it though, I write for Windy City Times a few times a year and now that Illinois passed same-sex marriage I might get married in Chicago instead of DC!

Marian Perera
11-23-2013, 10:47 PM
I'm a big fan of rainbow casts in novels where it fits. You'd have a harder time populating a novel set in a tiny farm town in Nebraska with a full rainbow, but if it's downtown in some major city, or if you're a fantasy writer, or sci-fi, where the entire world is up to you, then there's no excuse to not have some kind of diversity.

I write fantasy novels set on other worlds, and I always have people of different races in them, but those races are hardly ever differentiated on the basis of skin color. Diversity in terms of biology and religion and social behavior, yes, but I don't know if that falls under the rainbow cast umbrella.

If it didn't, I still wouldn't be comfortable about including skin color as a differentiating factor in this particular fantasy world. I feel I have enough differences already between my races without adding that as well.

Ken
11-24-2013, 02:19 AM
... cool Kim, about writing for a newspaper
and getting hitched. Congrats and G'luck ! :-)

Riz&Roz
01-10-2014, 05:58 AM
I'd say it's best not to try too hard. Write the characters you see; the characters you feel are believable.

tutty
02-11-2014, 09:06 PM
i know this thread is a month old, but since there's not a ton of traffic here, i'll put in my thoughts. i'm from a mid-sized town in the south, and at one point, my core group of friends were asian, white, latina and arab. i'm black. so if anyone wants a "rainbow cast" for their novel, but is worried about realism, i say go for it. you'll be reflecting someone's reality.

Kitty27
02-28-2014, 05:11 AM
I second Tutty.

Go for it. It will be HEAVEN for someone to read a diverse novel and see characters like them reflected in a well written and non stereotypical way.

oooooh
04-01-2014, 04:14 PM
Missus Akasha, don't know if you're still reading this thread as it's so old, but I fully support all of the characters, even if they sound "too" mixed/diverse/deliberate. It's not as if thinking about race happens unconsciously (unless we're talking Assumed White), so yeah, who cares if it's deliberate? It's supposed to be.

I guess I just identify with your story because I too am writing an Urban Fantasy with what is pretty much a rainbow cast. Yes, part of the reason was because I want to see more representation in YA Fantasy, but also because the friend group closely mirrors my own (as does the setting, contemporary London). So if you can imagine this group of people being together, it is by all means realistic.

What does bother me though is the one or two people that have said this wouldn't be commercial. I could feel my gut nodding in assent, going 'uh-huh'. It's the same thing as when Katniss and Gale and all of the others from the Seam in THG were described as 'olive skinned', yet movie franchise had an all white cast. Even if Suzanne Collins did write a mixed/rainbow cast they were awfully whitewashed in the movie. Grrrr.

Is there any hope of something like this being super commercial?

Jorshington
04-01-2014, 04:18 PM
I'm not going to lie; I thought this thread said "Are rainbow cats bad..." and I thought this was going to be about Nyan Cat.

>_>

Kashmirgirl1976
04-01-2014, 10:33 PM
Go for it. Rainbow casts is the reality for more people than not. To think otherwise is myopic and stagnant. It would be appreciated.

bluelight
04-03-2014, 11:30 PM
It's the same thing as when Katniss and Gale and all of the others from the Seam in THG were described as 'olive skinned', yet movie franchise had an all white cast. Even if Suzanne Collins did write a mixed/rainbow cast they were awfully whitewashed in the movie. Grrrr.

The worst was how the casting directors specifically stated in the casting call that they only wanted to audition Caucasian actors and actresses for these parts.

This is kind of an old thread, but I say go for rainbow casts. And I would rather an author explicitly tell me a character is black, white, asian, mixed, etc. than leave it ambiguous. I've recently noticed in some of the YA novels I've read that a writer will describe a POC character as attractive but then give them Caucasian features that almost negate any features that would signify their being a person of color.

For example, an Asian male protagonist/love interest with big beautiful blue eyes and light brown hair.

This combination of features is possible, but incredibly rare. Does this bother anyone else, or just me? Because YA is so popular, I feel like this sort of thing just leaves the door open to not cast a POC if the novel is ever adapted for film or television.

I won't think the male love interest a writer has created is any less interesting or worthwhile if he has black hair and dark eyes. Are writers/publishers afraid that's not the case for the rest of the world?

shaldna
04-04-2014, 03:09 AM
I second Tutty.

Go for it. It will be HEAVEN for someone to read a diverse novel and see characters like them reflected in a well written and non stereotypical way.

This quote made me smile because this week my daughter has been home from school ill (she has recurrent breathing issues) and we happened to be flicking through an array of bad daytime TV when she got all annoyed about a couple of guys on a TV show and said 'why are they talking like that? Edwin doesn't talk like that. And neither does Jordan.'

Ed is one of her friends. He's a first generation immigrant from India. Jordan is her cousin, 18, son of a while Irish woman and a first generation Indian immigrant . If my 7 year old daughter can spot a racial stereotype then I see no reason why anyone else can't.

Perhaps we are lucky - we have a very diverse family group and social circle and I'm lucky enough that my daughter goes to a parish school - it only has around 65 pupils, and only about half of those speak English as a first language. Her two best friends are French and Polish. She has no concept of a difference in skin colour, nationality etc. And that's how I want to keep it. She's well aware too that, especially in our family group, that just because you have white parents doesn't mean you are white. And the best bit of it all - she doesn't CARE. And that's how it should be.

I think, personally, that there have been too many movies and influences that have led to characters being portrayed in a stereotypical light. I mean, I know that I'm sick and tired of seeing pretty much all African American males being shown as semi-literate thugs, just like I'm tired of every Irish character being a drunk farmer.






Go for it. Rainbow casts is the reality for more people than not. To think otherwise is myopic and stagnant. It would be appreciated.


In the estate I live in, in Ireland, just outside Belfast, being a white native is the minority. I'm not saying that this the case for all estates in Ireland. I'm just saying that, where I live, in this street, this estate, the majority of residents are not white Irish people. By far the majority are immigrants - Indian, Turkish, a large Chinese population and a lot of Eastern European families.

While 'rainbow' is a reality, we need to look at it in terms of location and setting. I mean, if I were to set a book in my home town and had an exclusively white, native cast, that's not going to work. But neither is having my book entirely populated with white, English speaking Northern Irish. It's all about location, demographics and being realistic.

In my first novel one of the main characters was Chinese by birth. She'd lived in the country all her life, spoke with a local accent etc. I was actually asked buy several readers why she didn't 'sound Chinese'



The worst was how the casting directors specifically stated in the casting call that they only wanted to audition Caucasian actors and actresses for these parts.

This is kind of an old thread, but I say go for rainbow casts. And I would rather an author explicitly tell me a character is black, white, asian, mixed, etc. than leave it ambiguous. I've recently noticed in some of the YA novels I've read that a writer will describe a POC character as attractive but then give them Caucasian features that almost negate any features that would signify their being a person of color.

For example, an Asian male protagonist/love interest with big beautiful blue eyes and light brown hair.

This combination of features is possible, but incredibly rare. Does this bother anyone else, or just me? Because YA is so popular, I feel like this sort of thing just leaves the door open to not cast a POC if the novel is ever adapted for film or television.

I won't think the male love interest a writer has created is any less interesting or worthwhile if he has black hair and dark eyes. Are writers/publishers afraid that's not the case for the rest of the world?


I HATE this. I mean, I'm a grown woman with my own tastes and opinions. If you need to CONVINCE me that your character is attractive then you aren't doing your job very well.

And I don't need everyone 'whitewashed' either. That really peels my plums.

LupineMoon
05-27-2014, 06:34 PM
My friend and I are trying to write a story we've been playing around with for years. Over the last several months, we've started playing with our characters and making it a more diverse cast as we realised that there were only one or two non-white characters. Strangely, as a bi-racial Asian-American who has kept that part of myself in all of my writing (granted some of it is autobiographical), I have made this version of me completely white.

I like the idea of a diverse cast of characters and don't see nearly enough of them in literature.