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Question- Writing About People From Different Ethnic Origins


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So ummm..... hi

I've been a member of this forum for some time, and lately I realized that most stories here (including my own) are mostly about characters who are Caucasian. I'm referring mainly to original stories, since when it comes to fanfiction the authors usually use existing characters from T.V. shows/ books/ movies etc. I know that this situation is probably due to the fact that most people here are from north america/ the U.K., but I've been wondering- how would you guys react to stories involving people from different ethnic origins? More importantly- how can one write about such people without offending anyone on a racial basis? I am aware that if one chooses to write about different ethnicities one should be careful not to use any racial stereotypes or anything like that.

So, what do you guys think?

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I would not have any objections to characters from other ethnic groups and I don't think that many other people here would either.

I would say go the route of making the character first while keeping their ethnic origins in mind. Obviously ethnic origins will have an impact on how the character behaves and perceives the world, but you should focus on making them a character first , if that makes sense. If you know someone in real life, you know that there is more about them than just their nationality, religion, and ethnic origin though obviously such things might still be important to them, so keep that in mind when writing the character and you should be okay. :yes: Of course, the amount of characterization you'd be able to squeeze in is obviously going to be limited to however long your story will be, but yeah, just keep this stuff in mind. :)

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I know what you're saying, but unfortunately I don't really have a solution to it myself. I have thought a bit about how to tackle this sort of thing, but I've never been able to come up with anything that most likely wouldn't be offensive to anybody.

I think the trouble I'm having comes from the fact that my own ethnicity honestly doesn't matter to me. I don't think about it, I don't care about it. Because of that, I really don't think I'd be able to accurately portray a character who did care about their ethnicity, especially if it was culturally important to them. I suppose I could always try, but I don't even know where I'd start. I've really only written one character who I explicitly described as not being Caucasian, but in her case she shared her ethnic background with me and cared about it as little as I do.

That being said, as I'm in the business of writing ethnically apathetic characters, there is one little trick I usually try. I don't always do this, and admittedly I frequently don't in the case of my characters who actually sneeze as I tend to describe them by what I personally find attractive. Basically, I often just won't describe what a character looks like. Between the lack of a complete physical description and the fact that most of my characters don't really do anything culturally polarizing, I think this enables people to see what they want to see. As a reader, you can freely interpret my visually nondescript characters however you like, even if your mental image doesn't necessarily align with mine. I suppose that's more of a workaround than a true solution, but I think that's the best I can do in my current state.

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I don't have much to add to what people have already said. I wouldn't really feel comfortable creating original characters who are of a different ethnicity than I because I only have experiences of being myself. I feel like I wouldn't be able to write it properly and that if I tried someone would surely start yelling how what I've done is terrible and, seeing what kind of a website this is, fetishising a racial minority. I also don't think it should be forced for the sake of diversity but that everyone should write and draw what they find desirable. This obviously includes not feeling like you should be restricted to make all your characters caucasian if you prefer non-caucasians.

I have to admit that I often feel like I should make my occasional stories take place in either some English-speaking country, in a fantasy world or leave the place undisclosed as (or at the very least use easily recognisable names and places). I'm probably silly for thinking that matters to people here but even so I can't really shake the feeling that using names like Heikkilä (which is a surname), Kimmo, Vesa or Hilla (which are first names and I have no idea how they sound to the majority of people on this forum) or making a story take place in a small Finnish village will turn people away. Sorry, this is kind of off topic since Finns are counted as caucasians and this hardly has anything to do with writing ethinically diverse characters.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for all the help. When I talk about including ethnically divers characters in my stories, I mostly mean that I would describe them as ethnically divers when I describe their looks (skin tone etc') and I probably won't relate to their cultures, since they would probably be living in a place where there would be people from different ethnicities (including Caucasians), so the culture would probably be standard western culture. One thing I have to emphasize though- unless I mention that a story I write takes place in the USA (and I, like Sitruuna, usually write stories taking place in undisclosed locations), I would refer to people with African origins as "black" and not "African- american". I hope no one thinks that's racist, but if someone does have a problem with that they can always PM me and let me know.

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