Some of the most popular subject matter in the publishing industry right now involves that all-encompassing term of diversity. Characters who are a part of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community, as well as differing religious and cultural beliefs and protagonists of other races are all gaining vast amounts of exposure and inclusion in modern-day fiction, which is an incredible milestone for writers and readers everywhere. As our world continues to evolve in its understanding and acceptance of different factors of humanity, relationships, ethnicities, and desires, it only makes sense that books would explore and illuminate these important topics in various ways.
Midnight Publishing is an editing, marketing, and ghostwriting company based in Phoenix, Arizona, with a staff of professional writers and editors who’ve made it our mission to help any and all aspiring writers in every way we can. One of those ways is to impart our knowledge and advice about this very important topic of diversity in books today, and how you can explore and apply it to your own fiction writing.
What Is “Diversity” in Books?
For a fantastic definition of what diversity in books entails, we turn to the awesome grassroots organization and website, WeNeedDiverseBooks.org:
How we define diversity:
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.”
-WeNeedDiverseBooks.org Mission Statement
As you can see, this description is quite inclusive of some of the incredibly important subject matter that can and should be included in fiction writing today. Here are some of Midnight Publishing’s staff tips on what you should do in regards to applying diversity to you own writing:
1. Read a Lot of Diverse Books
As we’ve discussed on Midnight Publishing’s blog many times before, one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read—and one of the best ways to see how other writers are addressing diversity in their novels is by reading them.
- Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak
- I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above
- Cris Beam’s I Am J
- Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be-Bop
- Sonia Hayes’ Miss Thang
- Sharon Flake’s The Skin I’m In
Other great resources for diverse books include:
2. Be Respectful, but Not Fake
When writing diverse characters with diverse plotlines, it’s important to be respectful and treat them how you’d write anyone: with respect, understanding, compassion, and realness. No one’s perfect, and no one’s a villain/evil simply because of their skin color or sexual orientation. People are people, with faults, strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles. You’re not honoring a diverse character by writing them to be “overly perfect” or “overly imperfect.” Be real.
A great example of this is John Green’s Fault in Our Stars; the characters are young people diagnosed with cancer, and they navigate their illnesses the best way they can. Sometimes they mess up, sometimes they say mean things, sometimes they’re selfless and loving, but they’re real characters, handling life in a real way.
3. Don’t Incorporate Diversity Simply Because it’s “Popular” or “Niche”
This is definitely an issue that’s cropped up, writers weaving in stories of homosexual couples, disabilities, illnesses, or cultural topics because they’re “trendy.” This is never the way to do things. The inauthenticity will roll off your pages like a stench, and it will either fall flat for agents and publishers (if you’re querying) or readers (if you’re self-publishing).
No, we’re not saying that you need to be a Muslim man who’s bisexual to write a book about one, definitely not. But you need to have a passion for the topic; you need to do your research, and you need to be drawn to writing such a story because that is what’s burning inside of you—that character’s experiences. Diversity is a great topic to explore because it’s rife with something every fiction book needs: conflict, obstacles, and an MC who overcomes them both.
Never hesitate to contact Midnight Publishing anytime with your ideas, questions and comments about diversity in fiction! We’d love to discuss your writing project and how we might be able to help you query, publish and pursue your dreams as an author. Midnight Publishing: Established in 2007 and trusted with over five million words so far.