Character development: How are you going to develop them?
Just like you must have an idea for the structure of you story, the same goes for your characters, their settings and even the scenarios they find themselves in. The key thing to remember is watch out for troupes what will limit the growth of your characters; stereotypes that will stunt other characters and not give them depth; if you are writing cross-culturally (a white writer writing Black character for example), make sure that you have invested time and effort into seeking out someone from that culture/ethnicity/background to read your work!
Why? Blind spots.
You don’t want a work to be offensive to other people when it does not have to be! Having someone read for cultural sensitivity will allow for feedback in a safe space where you can ask questions, get feedback and revise as needed! Your characters are brought to life your imagination—and that imagination may represent a real person. Write wisely.
Note: For sensitivity read-throughs, contact Anette King through her site, The Blurb Diva.
*Point to character/character development; WHO do you want to see?
Imagination + Character= Representation
Representation will always matter, especially in the media. This type of visibility grants those whom identify as any minority to see themselves in places where they may not have been before.
This is invaluable.
The award-winning writer Walter Mosley said that in order for a minority person to exist in the culture they have to exist in the fiction. Think of it this way—identity is existing! It is existence! It is mirror and a door in a world that doesn’t want people whom are not part of acceptable majority to see themselves outside of stereotypes! Your characters provide an existence, even in the face of a world that doesn’t want you to exist!
When you create your story it is a sense of identity, even if you leave pieces of yourself in it. In the immortal words of Beyonce’ Giselle Knowles Carter, “I was here.” The people that hide in your head and talk to you through ink or screen—they deserve to be here, too.
Give them the chance to be in the world that you inhabit. Rest assured that someone needs to see them—in order to see themselves.
*Points to genre; WHAT STORY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE?
Ah, the magic (and menace) of genre!
As a BIPOC writer, you will run into this quandary (more than once) of a potential reading audience, beta readers and almost fans who will tell you some permutation of this sentence (speaking as a Black woman who writes, this is what I have been told more than once):
“Black people don’t write _________.”
It never gets easier to hear, or less aggravating to explain. The writer and MARVEL comic icon, Christopher Priest, explains such stupidity this way: “A real writer can write anything.” This is the quote that I use to diffuse any apprehension that I have to writing anything, or being relying on any other opinion other than my own to determine (or influence) what genre I want to write or what I want to write for it!
The story, the idea, the process is all mine. I didn’t need approval to start, and I will not require it to finish. Just like I fire the little White man on my shoulder who thinks his critique and approval for my work is salaried position—I dismiss those unsupportive people who tell me but for my race, I can write anything that I want. Just not that genre.
One of the things about writing is the use of your imagination! Also, it grants you the freedom as a minority/BIPOC writer to make the world you want to see—one word at a time.
So, what do you want to see? Every story starts with you first, dear writer. From inception to publishing, it all begins with you. So, what is it that you want to see in the work you write? Remember the words of Mother Morrison: “If there is a book you want to read, you must write it.”
What idea have you been thinking of that your mind keep bringing you back to? What does it look like? What would it be like to write it? What tools would you need, do you need, in order to write it? This can also be likened to the Prewriting/Brainstorming phase of the writing process.
As you formulate what it is you want to write, remember it is you that must write it—only you can see what you want the world to see.
We live in a digital age where books still matter! As a writer, one of the biggest decisions you will make aside from deciding what to write is what medium you want to publish in.
When making that decision, it will be of great help to consider two things:
Who is your audience?
How long is your book?
There are some readers who prefer a traditional book (paperback/hardback), some prefer a blend (electronic/traditional), and there are those who just prefer e-books.
With the success and brainchild of smartphones, apps, the force of nature that is Kindle, it is easy to take your entire library anywhere you go or the book your friend across the world recommended to you.
Each have their drawbacks, and benefits which are totally subject to the desire of the reader. For as many people who love books as gifts, whom still get lost in bookstores, there are just as many that love carrying all their books in one place no matter what!