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Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#1 Old 30th Dec 2015 at 8:54 AM
Default Representation in Fiction
So, this is about representing minorities in fiction. Minorities include people who are not normally given representation in pop culture. That includes pretty much everyone who doesn't fall into the dominant cis-het-white, able-bodied, sound-minded groups. Women would also count as a minority, since fiction does lean toward creating male characters and working from the male perspective, except in romance. In the Western culture, members of non-Christian religions or people of ethnicities outside the Western culture sphere would probably count, too.

Adding representation in fiction is usually a good thing. Popular characters tend to become symbols for the public. When popular minority characters are public symbols, that helps put minorities more in the realm of normalcy than in the realm of Other. That in turn leads to greater tolerance and understanding, which is always a good thing.

However, as in everything, there are some pitfalls. A few things to avoid when writing minorities are:
Tokenism, or adding a minority character in just to avoid accusations of racism/sexism/able-bodied/etc.
Stereotyping, or creating characters based solely on common cliches about that group (such as creating a gay male character whose entire character revolves around the stereotype of femme guys, with no other personality traits)
Magical [insert minority here] or Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or presenting a character from a minority as existing solely to dispense advice or support for the majority cast members

There are probably some more that I missed. Feel free to point them out.

Here are some possible topics to get us started:

- Fiction with good representation
- Fiction with bad representation
- Resources by people who belong to a minority group
- How to avoid negative representation
- Sharing your minority characters
- Anything I missed in the initial explanations

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
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Spice Pony
#2 Old 30th Dec 2015 at 9:02 PM
So do you have any recommendations, or at least good resources to use to find fiction which is more diverse? I have trouble going to bookstores lately, because it's so hard to find things with queer content. This really sucks, because going to bookstores used to be one of my favourite activities. And so much of the stuff that is out there is so terrible. It's mostly an endless slew of depressing tragedies. And it's even harder for someone like me, who mostly only reads speculative fiction. I'd love to get into some of the superhero comics out there, as I know they've got some stuff that would fit the bill, but I'm intimidated by the massive body of continuity going back years. I don't even know where or how I'd start. It doesn't help that I know that at least some of that stuff is massively stupid.

For that matter, any recommendations for stuff with disabled protagonists? It's long bugged me that blind characters rarely show up in fiction unless they have magical powers of some kind. I did once read the start of a book with a blind lead character, and it was really interesting, but I couldn't stand the author.

My sci-fi thing I've talked about does have an Iranian Muslim protagonist. Her ship has a special chamber for prayer that has two 360º rotational axes for alignment with Earth. Some of the other characters are Hindu, or at least members of a related faith.
Field Researcher
#3 Old 30th Dec 2015 at 10:23 PM
I don't belong to this group but was reading the topic and want to suggest having a look at this sci-fi author for her handling of such issues:

Octavia Butler: Xenogenesis trilogy aka "Lillith's Brood"

Besides the fact that it is an amazingly good speculative sci-fi story, what I also like is that it very naturally emerges, through physical descriptions and sometimes recollections of lives past, that her characters span a diverse range of racial and cultural backgrounds. Such things are only mentioned insofar as they are relevant, not just "because". And that, to my mind, is the ideal.
Perhaps the reason she did this so well and naturally is because she herself was a rarity for her time, a female member of an American minority group who wrote speculative sci-fi?

This topic is interesting to me because I do write from time to time, as does my daughter and one of our good friends. My daughter is biracial (White/Chinese) and our mutual friend is black. (Her self identity term)
We discuss stuff like this all the time.

MTS does not allow us to delete our accounts. I will not be logging into this account anymore, so PMs would go unanswered.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#4 Old 7th Feb 2016 at 10:19 PM
Since I'm dealing with an issue in my writing, how would you guys feel about a fictional society, completely unrelated to Earth besides having humans, where the population is explicitly stated to have darker skin (but not look analogous to any real "races")? As in, they could be changed to white (or it's never stated and they're just assumed to be white) and it wouldn't change anything other than how the characters look.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
 
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