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DISCUSSION: Diversity in Writing Thread

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Hello there! This is a thread for discussing diversity in writing fanfiction, specifically diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, and other real world groups (though discussion of fantasy topics like fantasy races and racial coding, writing an in-universe fantasy marginalized group in a tasteful manner, how disability and magic/fantasy technology intersect, etc. is okay). Discussion includes things like asking questions, sharing resources, requesting sensitivity readers, etc.

Please be aware that all forum wide rules apply. We have a zero-tolerance policy for this thread being used to spout bigotry of any kind to any group. We also ask that you treat all users and questions with respect and good faith.
 
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This is something I love to indulge in with my writing. Especially in fantasy settings. Possibly because of my love of RPGs like Breath of Fire I like to include various different races in at least my main cast. My past work, Chaos Rising, is a particularly good example, as the main cast alone consisted of a Shadokor demon/Druid hybrid, a Light Elf, a Beastman, an Arachne, an Earth Naga, a human, and a Succuryn demon, much less the other different races that inhabited the world it was set on. Dawn of Courage continues this trend, with the main cast consisting of 2 humans, a Phoenix Clan member (birdman), a Werefox, a Centaur, a Beastman, a Hopper Clan member (frogman), and a Buzzwing Clan member (insectoid). Even in stories that are set on Earth I use species diversity, like Psychic Duelist Django, where Django is a Psykinox, Tempest is an Elemental, and Cody, Jack, Leo, and Fiona are humans, along with a bunch of Duel Spirits. Even in a prototype series I've been brainstorming it'll still pull the same stunt with the main cast being different races, with the main cast (currently, may be subject to change) consisting of a metahuman, a Starburst Elf, a Tanuki demi-human, a Forest Weaver Clan member (wolfman), a Magus Clan member (warlock), a Bloodwing Clan member (lesser demon vampire), and a human.

The reason I like to use species diversity is because it contributes to a recurring theme my works have: everyone can do something different and contribute to the main cause in some way with their own skills and abilities regardless, or rather because, of their race. That's something I find rather profound, since it shows that everyone has a role to play in the grand scheme of things and when they work together they can overcome any obstacle they face. That's why I love using different races in my works, as it not only makes the cast very diverse, but it shows that each of them has at least one skill that can be tapped into in order to achieve the end goal in some shape or form, no matter how small of a contribution it is. It's something I wish more works, especially in fantasy settings, would utilize more often since it'll not only make the cast more interesting but also show that everyone is important in the grand scheme of things and not just there for the ride.

That's my 2 cents.
 
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This is something I love to indulge in with my writing. Especially in fantasy settings. Possibly because of my love of RPGs like Breath of Fire I like to include various different races in at least my main cast. My past work, Chaos Rising, is a particularly good example, as the main cast alone consisted of a Shadokor demon/Druid hybrid, a Light Elf, a Beastman, an Arachne, an Earth Naga, a human, and a Succuryn demon, much less the other different races that inhabited the world it was set on. Dawn of Courage continues this trend, with the main cast consisting of 2 humans, a Phoenix Clan member (birdman), a Werefox, a Centaur, a Beastman, a Hopper Clan member (frogman), and a Buzzwing Clan member (insectoid). Even in stories that are set on Earth I use species diversity, like Psychic Duelist Django, where Django is a Psykinox, Tempest is an Elemental, and Cody, Jack, Leo, and Fiona are humans, along with a bunch of Duel Spirits. Even in a prototype series I've been brainstorming it'll still pull the same stunt with the main cast being different races, with the main cast (currently, may be subject to change) consisting of a metahuman, a Starburst Elf, a Tanuki demi-human, a Forest Weaver Clan member (wolfman), a Magus Clan member (warlock), a Bloodwing Clan member (lesser demon vampire), and a human.

The reason I like to use species diversity is because it contributes to a recurring theme my works have: everyone can do something different and contribute to the main cause in some way with their own skills and abilities regardless, or rather because, of their race. That's something I find rather profound, since it shows that everyone has a role to play in the grand scheme of things and when they work together they can overcome any obstacle they face. That's why I love using different races in my works, as it not only makes the cast very diverse, but it shows that each of them has at least one skill that can be tapped into in order to achieve the end goal in some shape or form, no matter how small of a contribution it is. It's something I wish more works, especially in fantasy settings, would utilize more often since it'll not only make the cast more interesting but also show that everyone is important in the grand scheme of things and not just there for the ride.

That's my 2 cents.
I think there is a lot of potential when using fantasy races!

However, this thread isn't necessarily about fantasy race diversity, if that makes sense. It's about discussion of the writing of real world diversity and marginalized groups (i.e. real life race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, etc.), and how to portray those groups in a tasteful manner. Stuff like the intersection of diversity in writing and fantasy (i.e. fantasy races and racial coding, writing an in-universe fantasy marginalized group in a tasteful manner, how disability and magic/fantasy technology intersect, etc.) is totally cool, though.
 
I think there is a lot of potential when using fantasy races!

However, this thread isn't necessarily about fantasy race diversity, if that makes sense. It's about discussion of the writing of real world diversity and marginalized groups (i.e. real life race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, etc.), and how to portray those groups in a tasteful manner. Stuff like the intersection of diversity in writing and fantasy (i.e. fantasy races and racial coding, writing an in-universe fantasy marginalized group in a tasteful manner, how disability and magic/fantasy technology intersect, etc.) is totally cool, though.

Oh, whoops. My bad. When I saw the word "races" I thought that meant any race, be it real or fantasy, when it came to storytelling. Ignore my post, then.
 
In any case (fantasy or otherwise) I believe the most important thing is to make a fleshed out and purposeful character first before you concern yourself about diversity. Every person in the world that is "X" is a person with their own goals, motivations and backgrounds. Reducing a character's defining trait to only their group is as reductive as basing a character's entire definition off of one trope like the Tsundere or Stock Shonen Hero (And I know some of you here rolled your eyes seeing at least one character written like that). Such a thing is demeaning, reductive and does no favors in representing anybody. In addition, it is important to not reduce or put down another group to prop up another. It is also insulting since it implies that X group can only be "better" if Y group is "lesser" than it actually is in reality.
 
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In any case (fantasy or otherwise) I believe the most important thing is to make a fleshed out and purposeful character first before you concern yourself about diversity. Every person in the world that is "X" is a person with their own goals, motivations and backgrounds. Reducing a character's defining trait to only their group is as reductive as basing a character's entire definition off of one trope like the Tsundere or Stock Shonen Hero (And I know some of you here rolled your eyes seeing at least one character written like that). Such a thing is demeaning, reductive and does no favors in representing anybody. In addition, it is important to not reduce or put down another group to prop up another. It is also insulting since it implies that X group can only be "better" if Y group is "lesser" than it actually is in reality.
I agree that characters should be more than their race/gender/sexuality/etc. But I think it's... more complicated than that. Lemme explain:

I think how important a character's identity is depends on how much the story deals with themes of identity, discrimination, etc. For example, in a story about homophobia, a character's sexuality is probably going to come up a lot. But in a story about learning to face your fears (and those fears are, like, spiders and such), sexuality probably isn't going to come up at all. Like, maybe there will be mention of a gay character having a crush on a guy or something, but that isn't the main focus.

I think it also depends on the worldbuilding too. Like, in a world of gender equality (both male/female/nonbinary and cis/trans equality), then gender outside the binary is probably a normal part of the character's everyday lives. And there's a lot of potential for that! Maybe there's magic that allows you to change your gender/sex, and a genderfluid character casually mentions doing the spell, or maybe there's a scene where they need to find the ingredients (this depends on how hard the spell is. maybe it's just going to the store to get the ingredients and you can worldbuild how magic ingredients work, or you can develop the cashier side character. Or if there's a rare and special flower, it can become an adventure episode). Genderqueer wizards are cool, what can I say.

I also worry that some people (read: bigots) use "don't shove X identity in our faces" as an excuse to shut down any sort of representation. I think back to the backlash against the gay wedding in Arthur. The episode was not about being gay. It was about the kids having a misunderstanding about who their teacher was marrying. The fact that their male teacher was marrying a man was incidental to the plot, and yet certain people (read: homophobes) got mad that "Arthur was forcing gayness down our throats and that's not appropriate for kids". (Read: "we don't think gay people are normal, and therefore we don't want kids thinking that gay people are normal").

But I think in recent years, we've been seeing more and more stories where people of different races, genders, sexualities, etc. are able to be characters beyond their race, gender, sexuality, etc. And we've also been able to see more and more stories that can explore themes of race, gender, sexuality, etc. in ways that are poignant, nuanced, and resonant.

TLDR; Both kinds of stories, ones that focus on identity and ones where identity is just another part of the character, have their times and places. It depends on the story being told.
 
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Anyway! Got a resource for writing characters who use multiple pronouns. This has been super helpful to me over the years, as someone who has multiple characters who use multiple pronouns (Welkamo!Wallace is he/they/she, for example)

 
I think how important a character's identity is depends on how much the story deals with themes of identity, discrimination, etc. For example, in a story about homophobia, a character's sexuality is probably going to come up a lot. But in a story about learning to face your fears (and those fears are, like, spiders and such), sexuality probably isn't going to come up at all. Like, maybe there will be mention of a gay character having a crush on a guy or something, but that isn't the main focus.

I think it also depends on the worldbuilding too. Like, in a world of gender equality (both male/female/nonbinary and cis/trans equality), then gender outside the binary is probably a normal part of the character's everyday lives. And there's a lot of potential for that! Maybe there's magic that allows you to change your gender/sex, and a genderfluid character casually mentions doing the spell, or maybe there's a scene where they need to find the ingredients (this depends on how hard the spell is. maybe it's just going to the store to get the ingredients and you can worldbuild how magic ingredients work, or you can develop the cashier side character. Or if there's a rare and special flower, it can become an adventure episode). Genderqueer wizards are cool, what can I say.
Fair enough, if the themes of the story revolve around identity and such then a character's identity should be an important part of them. Though in that case, the character is purposeful from their conception like I had stated before. I'm generally referring to stories where identity isn't a central part of the plot, settings or characters. In either case, it is important to have characters be more than just "X" like real people are. Like how a homosexual person IRL isn't just a homosexual or how a blind person is more than just a blind person. People are complex and I doubt any real person would be fine with being only characterized by only a singular part of them.

I also worry that some people (read: bigots) use "don't shove X identity in our faces" as an excuse to shut down any sort of representation. I think back to the backlash against the gay wedding in Arthur. The episode was not about being gay. It was about the kids having a misunderstanding about who their teacher was marrying. The fact that their male teacher was marrying a man was incidental to the plot, and yet certain people (read: homophobes) got mad that "Arthur was forcing gayness down our throats and that's not appropriate for kids". (Read: "we don't think gay people are normal, and therefore we don't want kids thinking that gay people are normal").
It is also important to remember that a pendulum swings both ways. There are people out there who can and will hide behind identity politics in order to shield themselves from criticism and use it as a crutch for bad writing. Their usual response to criticism generally boils down to "you criticize "X" therefore you are "X-ist"". Disney and a lot of their supporters (especially on twitter) use this like competitive Pokemon battlers use Stealth Rock and Earthquake. Bad writing is not something that is excused or exclusive to one group, bad writing is bad writing. Captain Marvel from Marvel comics isn't badly written character because she's a woman. She's just a badly written character and would be just as boring and unsympathetic if she were a man.
 
Anyway! Got a resource for writing characters who use multiple pronouns. This has been super helpful to me over the years, as someone who has multiple characters who use multiple pronouns (Welkamo!Wallace is he/they/she, for example)

I haven't yet written characters that use multiple pronouns myself, but I found this to be pretty useful to be honest! I have a feeling I won't delve super deeply into gender into my works as I don't really focus on real-world issues much, but considering how there are people IRL who use multiple sets (and friends I have who do as well), there's obviously a need for material like this, so thanks for the great learning resource for the future :enzap:
 
I haven't yet written characters that use multiple pronouns myself, but I found this to be pretty useful to be honest! I have a feeling I won't delve super deeply into gender into my works as I don't really focus on real-world issues much, but considering how there are people IRL who use multiple sets (and friends I have who do as well), there's obviously a need for material like this, so thanks for the great learning resource for the future :enzap:
Anytime! I struggle with writing pronouns in general (as in "help how do I write two characters who both use he/him"), and I know that others too, so resources are coolllllllll

Usually for Wallace, I have his Pokemon companions use they/them (sometimes they alternate if that's possible without confusion), because most of them are Water types, and in my verse, Water types are very fluid in gender identity/expression. The narration for human/general POV typically uses he/him or they/them (often in Wallace/Winona/Steven fics where it's just them, I use they/them for Wallace, I've noticed. The three genders: male, female, and Wallace /j). I thiiiink I've only used she/her for Wallace in dialogue? It might be interesting to write a fic where the narration uses she/her. Ideas hooray :yay:
 
Polywriting resources:

 
Polywriting resources:

this will be really helpful for samis i mean sabotag i mean tundrast i mean
polyamory fics in general <3 thank you kamo!!
all the poly i write is them, anyway :sadsola:
 
all the poly i write is them, anyway :sadsola:
Allow me to tempt you with more poly ships

Another thing I'd like to bring up: compersion, which is sort of like the opposite of jealousy. Basically, it's feeling joy from seeing your partner(s) being happy with their other partner(s). (I'd like to emphasize that this isn't to say that polyamorous people can't feel jealous; they can be jealous just like monogamous people.) I think that's such a cool thing to explore and eeeee now I wanna write more polyfics right now but I need to finish my WIPs
 
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