Write what you know. Writing white people with gender issues will come off better than pretending you can understand a minority character just to stick them in. Usually when writers force minority characters in they either accidentally become racial stereotypes, or they just end up written like a white person with brown skin. If a good minority character comes to you that isn't a gimmick, by all means go for it, but most people would rather see a bunch of white people well written than feeling like minority characters are being forced on them.
Also you said in your story there's a REASON they're white mostly, and that's better than most stories. Most of the time they're just white people because that's all the author can come up with. So kudos.
I very rarely describe characters in terms of ethnicity. I imagine most of my characters as white because I am white, most of my friends are white, everybody in my family is white and I see a lot of white people around me. Characters default to white in my brain. I also tend to write about people living in largely white areas of the world.
The only time I've made an ethnic distinction is with names. You can assume if I give a character a Chinese name, then I intend for them to be Chinese. If the character is named Mikey Tanaka, odds are good he's from a Japanese immigrant family. 'nuff said.
This is an issue you can't win on, to be honest. If you don't include these details, you can be accused of sexism, racism, homophobia; all sorts of things.
If you do include them, people will say you're queer-baiting, playing to stereotypes, pandering; again, all sorts of things.
The best way to do it, I think is to mention it if it's important to the character. Women are seriously under-represented in media, but there are more women than men on the planet. But people are used to seeing male characters, so a lack of women tends to go unnoticed by most.
Totally agree with a lot of people. And if it offends someone, oh well, they can go read something else. There are a gazillion books out there, no need to fret.
Actually, if you want to make a story that deals with societal issues, go ahead. I find that admiring, because I can never get up the nerves to write things like that. I also think it would attract a lot of attention, good and bad, and... in truth, it would be nice to expose people to such things and more. Books these days are so watered down with rainbows and butterflies (especially the bestsellers), in my opinion anyway.... Shouldn't be afraid to steer away from the norm.
I don't really see the connection between writing diverse characters and having the book be "about" societal issues. People who happen to not be white straight American males don't necessarily run around being civil rightsy 25/7. Everyone is a minority to someone.
I write characters of different races and orientations because they exist. There doesn't need to be a special 'place' for them. Any given character can have any of these attributes just because--just like in real life.
I would be careful not to throw in the token "minority" character only to placate some segment of the audience that may not even notice. Tokens can also be just as problematic as having no minorities at all, since they might play into stereotypes or be under-developed. You could, for instance, point to the Sassy Black Woman and Magical Negro tropes, which give representation to blacks while reducing them to devices only there to serve the white characters.
Anyway, I would not add such characters because you feel like you have to, but if this is a multi-cultural the characters live in, then it does make sense to show that diversity. If the character shows up in your head as black, just write it, treating their race in a casual manner and not resorting to stereotypes. That's about how I approach it, although I'm trying to do a better job reflecting the diversity of the world I've written.
I don't think I've stereotyped anyone. Most of the background characters are only their to fill in space. Sort of like soldier characters are in the hundreds and fill in space so that an army is an army... If they're mentioned it's briefly, hardly any time to stereotype and I write them just like everyone else. They might be shy, might be rude, might be caring, might be evil, might be good. But I didn't make all the minority characters all bad or anything like that.
Nope, they're definitely 3d at least in my head, even if it isn't mentioned in the book because I didn't have time. And actually many (like half the background characters) hate the main character, even some of the ones that work for him.
writing is something you express your thoughts, your imaginations, your stories, blah blah blah, just don't limit them with rules or anything. It's your story after all :3 nothing to worry about I mean, just don't be worried too much, k? :3
I'm not worried to much. It's just the topic came up and on tumblr I'm always seeing people go on and on and on about this and many times I agree with them, so yeah... wanted to see everyone's thoughts on this in writing (not pictures/films, etc like I usually see complaints on).
I think, like, according to the plot, the setting, the context, it's ok to have most of your characters male. You mentioned that if you change the gender it won't get along with the background, right? So if changing makes your story worse, just don't. Because in the end, we write stories to entertain people, right?
plus, there will be someone writing a story with most characters female anyway :3
I know people who will freak the fuck out over this stuff, but they'd do it regardless. Stop trying to please everyone and write a good story that makes sense.
Although the one thing that bothers me when I see minorities in stories is that their minority characteristics tend to be overemphasized. Dude, I grew up in America. I totally eat weird food and know an extra language, but it's not like I prance around in saris or whatever. People first, cultural stereotypes second.
How people think about race depends on where they live and how they were brought up etc. e.g. In Australia we don't use the term "minority" or "minority person" or "person of colour". (as for me, I'm half Chinese half Caucasian, but I look white. Does that make me a minority? No idea, it's never really been a 'thing'.)
So if it makes sense for everyone to be white, then that's fine. If race is a thing, they would probably notice/mention it. Otherwise not. You can mention what race somebody is without making a big deal of it. The racial makeup of your story should be appropriate to the demographics of the setting and i dont think anyone will have beef unless you have huge sterotypes. Nobody wants the token character where it's like:"Look! Somebody of your race! RELATE TO THEM!!"
Well I don't think I resorted to stereotypes and I'm not asking anyone to relate, you know? They're just there and unlike sexuality and that sort of thing, skin color is pretty obvious you know? I'm very descriptive. I'll often say if characters have freckles, scars, tans, tan lines, so yeah... that's why I'm kind of worried about it. It would be odd if I didn't describe them. Of coarse I wouldn't describe them ridiculously like as having chocolate moca coffee skin, but maybe, "he was dark skinned with soft brown eyes and wearing a warm wool sweater" or just outright "he was black with... bla bla bla", and this character might just be an secretary at a desk that greets the main character, nothing offensive I think, right?
That all sounds fine then. I have read those blogs and stuff where people are freaking out about racial representation in the media etc, but don't worry about that and just write normally like you have. There's nothing offensive about that.
I'm with *LadyAnder on this. It sounds like you're over thinking it. This is the sort of issue TV networks and movie studios pay a lot of attention to - but they're in a different business with different rules for marketing, etc.
If your story has a narrator, the answer is simpler. Describe the characters as he/she would. What do they notice first?
If it's up to you, I'd suggest focusing on what is appropriate for the story. Creating redundant or useless characters by going out of your way to include minorities will, at best, disrupt your story, and at worst, come off as patronizing
I'm not that</> worried. The issue just popped up so I thought it would be great for discussion and getting other views on the subject.
Also, I forgot to mention I'm very descriptive with my character's appearance, are they pale, scarred, tanned? so I think it would be kind of odd just to not do it... so I want to know how I can avoid being offensive.
You don't need to slap in an black/gay/lesbian/whatever character in your story if it doesn't have a place for it. Get rid of the politically correct BS mindset and write what you want, how you want to.
It's not complete BS, I agree, but people do tend to take it too seriously and whitewash their ideas because of it. That doesn't do anyone any services, except the "I have a right not to be offended" crowd. Offending people is not necessarily a bad thing.