Responses

  1. TheAdamBo (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    But Billy, as I said, if they truly think there's a lack of whatever group they belong to being represented in fiction, why is it up to *US* to fix it? Why not write their own books? Not the children, of course, but the teens and adults. They understand their own culture far better than an outsider like you or me ever would, so why leave it up to us? As evil as it may make me sound, I don't write my stories to validate somebody else's need to see/hear/read about people like them. I write my stories, first and foremost, for me. I want to write a fun, exciting adventure that *I* would enjoy reading, and hopefully other people will too. I agree that seeing people similar to you in the entertainment you consume can do a lot of things to help people, but... that's not my responsibility, and I think it's wrong for people to put that kind of pressure on us.

    My Fiction is Fantastic, Fabulous, Freaky, and FREE! Check it out on BolanderBooks: http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  2. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    It IS our responsibility.

    A lot of the writers out there today are white guys. Sci-fi author Ferrett Steinmetz explains why really well in this blog post.

    To quote the crux of the piece: "And writing is such a challenge to get right, requiring such focus to hone, that I don’t think it’s a surprise that a lot of writers are white males who come from middle- to upper-class homes. They’ve got a whole societal structure geared around supporting them."

    Of course there are plenty of authors out there who aren't white, who aren't male. But the truth is that the white guys outnumber them because society helps us become writers in a way it doesn't help other groups. So, as important as it is to have stories coming from voices we don't hear about often enough, we also have a responsibility to try and represent minority perspectives as best we can.

    We'll never be perfect. And it's important to point towards well-written stories written by people who have actually lived the asian-american experience, the disabled experience, the queer experience, etc. But at the same time, there's pressure on us to make sure our stories feature a diverse cast. And that pressure comes from a good place.

    I understand that the pressure can suck. But at the end of the day, we need to look at that pressure and address it. If we don't, we're not doing our jobs as writers.

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  3. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'm not Billy, but I have a few thoughts...

    1. I think you might want to ask yourself who the *US* is in "Why is it up to *US* to fix it?" If you've been paying attention to this thread and also to other threads in this forum, you'll note that various people here have mentioned that they are black, gay, female and so on. "They" are writing their own books and even their own serials.

    That's great, but indie writers don't have a big reach. By contrast, white males (and females) appear more prominently in traditional publishing. If straight, white people only write straight, white people, other groups effectively disappear from stories.

    2. I write for myself too, but I want to be read. When I read a book set in this world that isn't set somewhere extremely isolated, and I find that there are only white people in the story, it knocks me out of the story because it's unrealistic. This is probably also true of other readers.

    3. And then, of course, there's this experience: A fellow student in my graduate program commented that she'd seen a lot of science fiction movies where all the people in the future were white. She semi-jokingly asked where all the black people had gone. If you thought about it, the answer was pretty disturbing because it implied a kind of massive genocide.

    I don't want to write something that inspires that kind of question and answer.

  4. Sten Düring (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    On the, 'why should the US be responsible' there's a simple answer. The 'US' (in Wattpad's case 'US' is Canada) is short-hand for the English speaking white world. PG13, outright disallowed on 'this site', removed from stores/libraries due to questionable content, etc, all follows a norm that is NOT by any definition of the word 'norm' globally representative.

    Attempting to follow 'your' norm means risking a ban. Notably even WFG runs along these rules. Sexually explicit requires a tag. Sexually explicit where I come from, which is just as white and middle class as anything 'US' (Sweden), can be a part of YA. I've read about a girl giving a handjob in a title aimed at 12 - 14 year olds. Notably I never understood that was strange until AFTER i got involved with writing communities on the Internet.

    If I as a writer has to comply with 'US' rules, then the 'US' is explicitly to be held accountable.

  5. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Ah, the diversity for diversity's sake argument... when has that *ever* actually worked?

    Speaking as someone who does write diverse archetypes by default, mind you. Don't think I've written a story yet without at least one or two important characters who are minorities (most of the time I avoid having more than 10 important characters at all- I did the "giant caste" thing once... never doing it again. No, seriously, it was a nightmare. Totally worth doing for the challenge, but never happening again.

    Thing is... I don't define my characters by their genitals or skin colors or whatever. They are people, and defined as people. Everything else is *what* they are, rather than *who* they are. Who they are gets the core focus of my story. People who can't get over the whole "muh diversity!" thing long enough to simply write their characters as people first... will always come across as shallow and fake.

    Which is part of why Sir Arthur C Clarke remains one of the writers I respect most in the world. He always had diverse casts- of pretty much all races, sexes and sexualities- but he never once made a big deal out of it. To the point that almost no one realizes there even was diversity in his works. Much as you would never know he, himself, was gay unless you paid a whole lot of attention to the peripheral information about him.

    It was always there if you wanted to know, but it just wasn't shoved down your throat like... eh, you can complete the analogy yourself. The point is, that right there is how a great author does it. By focusing on what makes us the same, rather than the things we like to pretend makes us different. Doesn't matter our skin color or race, we're all human beings and we face the same trials and tribulations as the rest of the species.

    Author of Price.
  6. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    "Ah, diversity for diversity's sake argument... when has that *ever* actually worked?"

    I'd start with Brown v. Board of Education.

    "Speaking as someone who does write diverse archetypes by default, mind you."

    Good for you.

    "People who can't get over the whole 'muh diversity!' thing long enough to simply write their characters as people first... will always come across as shallow and fake."

    If you think the people who want diversity in their fiction -- who want characters that represent the demographics of the real world -- can have their argument summed up as, "muh diversity!" then yeah. That does sound pretty shallow and fake. Suffice it to say, I find the summation lacking at best; egregiously disrespectful at worst.

    Honestly, what bothers me most about your comment is the way you use Arthur C Clarke's as an excuse. He was a gay man born in 1917. He married a woman because he wanted people to think he was straight. The tabloids slandered him anyway, accusing him of pedophilia (he was exonerated).

    What do you think he should've done, in an environment like that? Do you think he should have -- could have -- made a big deal about his sexuality? Do you think he was given that right, that opportunity?

    No.

    A great author does tackle what makes us the same. But they do that by focusing on the specificities of lived-in experiences. It's the specificities that can bring a character to life. Then, when you have the details filled in, these details can reflect on larger issues that we all wrestle with.

    Don't use a gay man to make your incredibly heterosexual point, Tana. He's not your tool.

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  7. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Brown V Board wasn't diversity. It was unity. "We should be brought together and treated as the same" is the exact *opposite* of diversity for diversity's sake.

    Also. I'm not heterosexual, which means by your logic my point can't be heterosexual. But thanks for assuming. Makes an ass of one of us, and it's not me.

    Author of Price.
  8. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'm sorry I assumed you were heterosexual.

    It's pretty obvious I have problems with you, and I think you make subtle and not-so-subtle digs at me repeatedly, so let's just end the conversation here. I honestly don't see anything else productive happening, when tempers are flared like this.

    I respect that you have written reviews for many WFGers. It'd he nice if at least that level of respect was mutual.

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  9. Team Contract (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    LoL, this could be going downhill quick.

    @Billy I can't identify with your position, mainly because the "Our" and "Us" that you use, does not represent all writers. And it certainly does not represent me. And I don't think it's because I'm not a white male. I think it has more to do with me not being an American. As @Sten mentioned, I think a lot of these norms are American made norms. So while it may be true to you, that you feel some pressure to include minorities, because you're a white male. I come from a place where the minorities are white people.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to include other cultures. If you see my earlier post, I think it's great. But do it for the right reasons. Do it for the story, the setting. If it's not there, don't try and force it, else it'll just come across forced.

  10. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I have managed to go without lying to anyone about anything since high school (plenty of 'none of your damn business', but no lies). If anything, I'm quite the opposite- going into extensive details and noting borderline cases just to make sure they're accounted for acknowledged ahead of time. What have I done to make you think otherwise?

    When have I made any digs, subtle or otherwise, at you? Honestly I don't know you well enough to make a dig at you. I mean, I could certainly just throw out a direct insult, but other than the "thanks for assuming" thing just above I've never made an insulting comment toward you at all. And I think that one was more than justified.

    And the only flared temper here is your own. For reasons that involve a lot of assumptions you've made about me that are quite one sided. My opinion of you has always been neutral of the 'don't know enough to have opinion', because up until now, you've never really been on my radar screen.

    But if you want respect... start with maybe explaining just what the hell you think I did to indicate a lack of respect. Because I don't recall interacting with you much at all, positively or negatively.

    Not to say I haven't interacted with you before- but to me you've always just been another poster like most of the rest of the other posters. You've never stood out to me.

    Author of Price.
  11. TheAdamBo (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    But again, Billy, it's still not my responsibility to integrate any certain race, gender, or sexuality into my writing just to give a reader who shares that race, gender, or sexuality a little ego boost. It only becomes my responsibility if the STORY requires that it be written that way. If the story requires that it feature black characters, or gay characters, or what have you, then it would irresponsible of me to skirt that issue. Like, if I wrote a story that took place in Africa, and yet somehow everyone was still white, that would be me writing it the wrong way. But other than that, if they want their race or gender or sexuality represented in fiction, they need to either find an author who's more interested in representing minorities than he/she is in telling the story itself, or just write the story themselves. I just want to tell a cool story, not pander to any minority.

    My Fiction is Fantastic, Fabulous, Freaky, and FREE! Check it out on BolanderBooks: http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  12. Dary (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    It's not about "pandering to minorities", it's about how the status quo is always "white, straight" and usually "male". It's about how, if you don't describe a character as being black or gay or whatever, people will just assume that they're white and straight. It's about people treating race, gender and sexuality as if they're the character's defining trait, rather than just another facet to a character's identity.

  13. unice5656 (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I actually think it's pretty paternalistic to think that it's the DUTY of the "superior", established people in power to include other kinds of people in stories so that they can see themselves in media and aspire to greatness. Maybe the majority of fiction writers are white males, but they are no means 100%. Assuming other peoples can't write their own stories simply reinforces the message that they're inferior.

    I also don't think the people whining on Wattpad are necessarily people who are culturally diverse.

    I think of the authors that I've read, Tamora Pierce is probably the one who's written the most and the most skillful diversity into her story worlds. Her stories are set in completely fictional worlds, but she has people of every colour and sexual orientation, and writes them so naturally that the characters feel like they could never be anything but what they are ("people first" is definitely her approach). Perhaps most importantly, she writes for young adults; her target audience is full of people still finding their way in the world. I read her AMA on Reddit, and it was full of people telling her that they found strength and inspiration from her stories.

  14. Sten Düring (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Dary

    Very much this. In a very different context I made that mistake. Pen and paper roleplaying game. A campaign I had GM:d for a couple of years. So my players start travelling quite far from their usual hunting grounds and end up close to a place where people prety much behave like Hollywood Romans.

    Four days into the adventure (that is four long playing sessions) I'm getting these strange questions why the 'Romans' never try to infiltrate. That's the moment I realise I forgot to say they look like south of Sahara Africans. Big OOPS. However, of my eight players a grand total of zero asked about their looks prior to this despite travelling half a continent away. Assumptions are scary.

    The reason I brought up Le Guin is that a number of people were honestly offended when they realised the heroes were dark-skinned and the barbarian antagonists had a much lighter complextion (there's your white and male). During the early 1980s it was still acceptable to voice such a feeling of being offended.

    Now I'm not saying everyone should force diversity into their stories, but when an author of today cast an all-white ensemble of good guys and merrily copy Tolkien as far as the human antagonists are concerned, then I DO think it's problematic, even though that kind of dividing line might make perfect sense in the context of that story.

    Besides, the fantasy genre (paper version) already took a good dose of flak some fifteen years ago. A readership survey gave very clear statistics. Latino American and African Americans were extremely underrepresnted, and the stated reason was a lack of protagonists to identify with. In the end pretty much nothing happened, because the demography in question was deemed to have too low buying power to be worth catering to. There was a rather infected flame-war on a large writing community I took part of, which didn't die down until a few bans were imposed.

    Last: there are no easy solutions. This topic has been hot since the days of Oscar Wilde. Admittedly for all the wrong reasons at that time.

  15. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Here's the thing. We're all human here. (Or incredibly sophisticated artificial intelligences.) As such, our perceptions are distorted by our own perceptions and experiences. (That also holds for AI - seen how fast things degenerated when an AI was put on Twitter? Or when "Watson" was fed the Urban Dictionary?) If I'm expecting to be involved in a fight, I'll see people who piss me off. If I'm accustomed to being shouted at, I'll likely become more timid in response (or even more vocal, to be heard!). And, for example, while I might claim that the school where I teach is not incredibly diverse, such a claim is completely anecdotal. Perhaps a percentage breakdown would show that there's more diversity than my initial belief. If I'm not expecting to see black people, I might not see them, even if they're there. Likewise, if I'm expecting to see sexual identity being repressed, it will be more obvious to me.

    This thread seems to have collapsed down from general discussion of diversity into "Well, that's not how *I* see it!" or "That's not what it's like where *I'M* from!" or "Here's ONE particular author doing x!". The plural of anecdote is not data. We need to do our best here to distinguish between belief and reality... in a scenario where *THERE IS NO SINGLE REALITY*. I cannot emphasize that enough. In that lens, I will say I'm in the same camp as those who feel it IS "our responsibility", as writers, to "fix it". Not necessarily by writing diversity ourselves, if that's beyond our means, or won't fit the story. But then to lift up the writing of those who ARE writing it, and to make it clear to groups like the "Rabid Puppies" that they ARE in a minority themselves. And more than that, to not simply throw up our hands and say "well, not MY problem", and keep doing our own thing, because if everybody did that, nothing would change for the better.

    One final anecdote - one of the stories I read had a brown skinned protagonist. Despite occasional reminders (offhand, not in your face) by the author, my brain would tend to omit that detail every time until it was brought up again. I think that's a serious problem, that goes beyond "pandering" or "ego boosts". Does it mean the problem is unique? It could be, to me. Does it mean I need to write such characters myself? Maybe, if I feel I can do it. But it certainly means I shouldn't shrug and return to my reality, because that's something that's important to acknowledge, even confront.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca

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