Are They Like You?

Hello again, writer friends!

Today’s creative writing tip is one we all need to heed. If one or more of our characters are not like us, are they authentic?

Our characters may not be like us in several ways, such as:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Background
  • Life experience

… and you may be able to think of some more.

children of different nationalities

Here’s an exaggerated example: If you are a retired black middle-class female from South Africa, with English as your mother tongue, and your main character is an Asian teenage lad from Hong Kong who speaks Cantonese, are you sure your readers are going to see him as a real person?

I’m not saying don’t write that story with that character, but if you do, make sure that you do some excellent research.

If your character is a fourteen-year-old, spend time, if you can, with young people that age. You need to soak up their culture: the way they speak to each other, the way they relate to their parents and authority figures, what they like and dislike, what they fear and dream about.

Does your character have divorced parents? If you’re not in that situation yourself, find someone who is. Don’t guess how it makes them feel.

If your characters are from a different ethnic background, make sure you find out as much as you can about their culture before you begin writing. The last thing you want to do is offend, but it’s easily done if you haven’t checked. Did you know that white is the colour of mourning in China, and is used at funerals? If you’re not familiar with the culture you can so easily go wrong.

So… don’t assume anything! Visit people, ask questions, research online, get a beta reader from the age group/culture. And if you’re not sure, write a bit closer to home. 🙂 Janet Wilson, Pirate

Trust that helps! Is the main character in your latest story like you, or very different? Let us know – always lovely to hear from you!

Every blessing in your writing,

Janet

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