How do you create characters of color?
Related: 7 Unique Halloween Writing Prompts to Give Your Readers THE Capital-C CREEPS
Why Should I Add People of Color (POC) to My Fantasy Story?
If writing has taught us anything, it's that representation matters. Many writers nowadays are working hard to challenge the stereotypes set by the past, and the resulting stories are absolutely magical.
The best fantasy writing is no stranger to inclusivity. By adding people of color (POC) to your fantasy writing, you acquaint your readers with the beauty of diversity, demonstrating that different types of people can successfully coexist.
Not only that, you give your readers of color someone that, most times, they can more closely relate to.
"People of color are so used to reading the same stories over and over that lack anybody that looks like them, and they become accustomed to the instilled idea that they are lesser or undeserving of being seen/heard. But when they finally read about someone that does look like them...it makes all the difference." (Via @lynmri on Tiktok)
Important Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing Characters of Color
- Who are they at their core?
Focus less on the skin color itself and more on the person. Of course, your POC’s outward appearance is important to the story, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines them.
Think of it this way: if you had to describe this person but couldn’t use physical traits, could people still figure out who you are talking about? Character building is so important here!
- How does their cultural background affect them?
What is your character's culture like? Are they heavily cultural, or not so much? Knowing where their cultural practices (or nonpractices) originate from is key, as these can often say a lot about the character’s actions, motivations, etc.
- What do their physical traits say about them?
Does their hair empower them? What story do their eyes tell about their homeland? Physical traits are important when describing someone, yet it is all the more powerful for writers and readers alike when you build off of what may seem straightforward on the outside.
Types of POC Characters to Include in Your Fantasy Story
Consider these unique character types for your fantasy story:
- POC Fairies (Via @lynmri on Pinterest)
- POC Mermaids (Via @lynmri on Pinterest)
- POC Dark Academia (Via @lynmri on Pinterest)
- POC Princesses (Via @lynmri on Pinterest)
Helpful Tips for Writing Characters of Color
- Do your research.
ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NOT OF COLOR, research heavily the topics needed to make your character of color authentic to facts and experiences rather than stereotypes. Listen to people of color talk about their stories with an empathetic ear, and give them the space they deserve to make their voices heard. Trust me, you will learn a thing or two.
- Work with a sensitivity reader.
A sensitivity reader reads and reviews your work, specifically looking for instances of misrepresentation, stereotyping, bias, and more. Working with a sensitivity reader is a great way to ensure your writing is accurate and informed.
See also: Let's Talk About: Writing Sensitive Topics
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Part of the job of writing characters of color is the learning experience, and it's almost guaranteed that you won't know everything there is to know off the bat. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow more educated on other people and how they live.
Some questions may not always have definitive answers, but they're still worth asking—this way, your writing will come from a more mindful place.
Got your own tips and tricks for writing characters of color in fantasy stories? Share them in the comments!
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