In the past seventy years or so, our culture has seen a significant shift from a conservative, religiously influenced viewpoint to a much freer and accepting system that encompasses everything from race and sexuality to relationship styles and gender identity. Books have always been a vessel to communicate these concepts, and even hundreds of years ago they addressed issues like homosexuality (The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde), sadism and masochism (Story of O by Pauline Réage), and racism and discrimination (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain). As our culture continues to evolve and become more aware of these topics in day-to-day interactions, it often falls on the shoulders of authors, artists, and creators to bring awareness to them through their own interpretations. Midnight Publishing is an editing, ghostwriting, and marketing company that works with dozens of authors each year, and we are always encouraging our clients to explore such important topics as diversity in writing. But what if you’re unsure of what constitutes diversity, or whether you have the “right” to write about it? Let’s explore that further:
What is Diversity in Writing?
Diversity in writing is the author’s choice to explore topics that stray from the historically common and accepted “heterosexual, Caucasian, upper-middle-class” cast and/or setting. Common forays into diversity include:
- LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Ally)
- Socioeconomic issues such as homelessness, poverty, and financial strain
- Eating disorders
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Disabilities including but not limited to cognitive, physical, sensory, developmental, and intellectual disabilities
- Chronic illnesses/conditions
- Any further barriers in the social environment due to aspects of an individual
Diverse topics extend beyond the ones listed above and can encompass all manners of diverse experiences, but these are a jumping-off point for exploration. Now let’s address the question of whether an author “should” include these diverse topics in their writing.
Who Can Write About Diverse Topics?
The first and most important answer to such a question is that anyone can write about them. Every author with a passion for exploring the diverse topics listed above in their writing should do so. However, it’s important to remember that without a real-life experience to support one’s interpretation of diversity, authors can easily fall into preconceived notions or stereotypes that may lead to anger from readers and reviewers. This should be avoided at all costs, as it’s counterintuitive to the ultimate goal of including diversity in one’s work: to expand horizons and increase acceptance, not perpetrate incorrect perceptions and beliefs. If you’re a Caucasian, heterosexual male who grew up in an upper-middle class family, you can absolutely write about a half-Korean, half-American woman who’s bisexual and lives below the poverty line, but you must do your research and lots of it. Refer to sites like weneeddiversebooks.org and diversifya.com for resources and references on the best way to approach diversity in writing, as well as awards and grants that are being offered to authors who pursue it. Diversity is finding a foothold in books today and can be completely life-changing for a reader who may find for the first time that the character(s) in a book are going through something they themselves deal with every day.
Midnight Publishing is an editing, writing, and marketing company based in Scottsdale and Phoenix that works with clients every day to polish their books for querying and publication. Written a book on a diverse topic and need an editor’s developmental opinion? Contact us today to discuss your project and get on our schedule!