View Full Version : Writing POC in fantasy

04-03-2014, 11:15 PM
I've been writing this story for a while, and I really want to get this right. So here's the thing:

The country the story is set in is a very very loose spanish analogue: in that the names are spanish-based and there are a few vaguely spanishy things about the land and culture. One of my main characters is the child of refugees from the empire nearby, where there has been a war of sorts against magic users (His mother was a mage). I've written him as a black guy, where most of the people in the story are more olive-skinned. I really love this character and I don't think there's anything wrong with him personally. But I don't want it to seem offensive that he's kind of an outsider because of it (his nationality rather than his skin color, but they are related). There are definitely racist undertones to the way he's treated (ad to be fair, they feel the same way about the pale people who live in the mountains), although he's considered a citizen for various reasons and technically equal. All of the people from his country of origin aren't dark skinned, but I don't know if that's clear in the book. Is it problematic to have a black character as a minority this way? What should I do to make this work?

04-04-2014, 09:46 PM
I don't think this is problematic. It will probably take readers out of the fantasy world you've created if you actively try to write about/incorporate the topic of race the same way you would in a story set in our contemporary world. I think you're better off not being precious about the subject, or walking on eggshells.

All of the people from his country of origin aren't dark skinned, but I don't know if that's clear in the book.

I think that you should try to find an unobtrusive way of stating that in the book.

04-05-2014, 01:04 AM
I don't think any of that is problematic, per se, but by being the only character of color in the story, he quickly becomes representative of all people of color in your world. And that can cause problems depending on how he's portrayed (even if it's positive!) so that is something to keep in mind.

04-05-2014, 04:41 AM
Just don't make him the only one and you shouldn't have any problems. But, then again, if you make that subplot, you should be fine.

04-05-2014, 05:02 AM
Thanks for the replies. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't treading over dangerous ground there.
He's not the only one, but the others are minor characters with brief appearances. I intend to bring at least his sister into the second part of it more.