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Representation


Superpride

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I always found this topic interesting ever since writing became a more serious hobby of mine when I was a senior in high school.  One of my first stories that I ever written that was not a short story had a lot of representation of different races and ethnicities like Indian, Chinese and Italian.  However, I thought more deeply about this topic when a friend/acquaintance from the LGBT Resource Center of my university talked about the difference between representation and presentation a few months ago.  Essentially, he talked about how a character needs to be a character first, meaning the character has to have development and personality rather than just fill a checkbox because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.  

 

I thought that was very insightful, especially since we were talking Mass Effect: Andromeda, and how the video game had a transgender NPC whose first line to the player was about how they were transgender.  The character was basically there just to fill the transgender checkbox rather than be a fully-developed character whose identity may or may not have had an impact on their individual storyline.  On a side note, a patch was released to address the issue of the character since it caused plenty of controversy among gamers and others alike.

 

To the writers here, do you think about representation when you are writing your stories, and is it important to you that certain groups of people are represented?  For me, it not so much the characters that I want represented in my stories, but the culture instead.  For example, my story Halo has a lot of representation in terms of Filipino culture and mythology.  I really wanted to showcase the uniqueness of the Filipino people by representing their culture in my story, like the food, and the mythology that is still relevant to many people of the Philippines like the creatures.  Later in my story called Hero Wanted I really want to have characters from several different countries like the Philippines (of course) and Japan.  However, I need to keep in mind that they need to be characters first before I start representing their identity because I believe having a character whose only interesting aspect is their identity and not a combination of other factors is just making that character one-dimensional, which can be become obvious to the readers and take them out of the world of the story in my opinion.

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I agree that a character needs to be a character first of all.  No-one wants to be known as "that transgender girl" or or anything like that.  Representation is great, but I think it is important that it needs to be part of a well-developed character, rather than their defining feature.

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1 hour ago, CassieQ said:

I agree that a character needs to be a character first of all.  No-one wants to be known as "that transgender girl" or or anything like that.  Representation is great, but I think it is important that it needs to be part of a well-developed character, rather than their defining feature.

 

I completely agree that it should be a part, not the defining feature of a character.  Instead of defining feature; however, it should be an amalgamation of different aspects of a person that makes them a unique and compelling character.  And if a major aspect of the character is their identity, then also explain how their identity maybe melds or clashes with other parts of who they are, or what that identity brings forth for that character.

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I have a very large, multi-generational, multi-ethnic cast in my current series. The cast's composition was done on purpose but I've made sure each one of primary and secondary characters has their own personality. There have been times when I've had a few of them shout out comments during a gathering and some readers can tell who said what, even when I don't tag the dialogue. That tells me I've accomplished what I set out to do. Most tertiary characters tend to be hunky, furry men. I'm unsure how that happened. :P

 

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1 hour ago, Carlos Hazday said:

I have a very large, multi-generational, multi-ethnic cast in my current series. The cast's composition was done on purpose but I've made sure each one of primary and secondary characters has their own personality. There have been times when I've had a few of them shout out comments during a gathering and some readers can tell who said what, even when I don't tag the dialogue. That tells me I've accomplished what I set out to do. Most tertiary characters tend to be hunky, furry men. I'm unsure how that happened. :P

 

 

Not having to use speech tags because the dialogue is very distinctive to a character says a lot about hoe developed the characters that you written are.  I tend to overuse speech tags, so I'll keep what you said in mind when I write dialogue.  Great job!

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I'm currently working on a chapter covering a dinner part for 21. Every one of them will have dialogue lines. Trust me, there will be speech tags. Remember too many can be just as bad as too few. One piece of advice: try to minimize he said/she said and opt for action tags. I've been told it's current standard practice.

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