How to Write Authentic Diverse Fictional Characters

Especially if you’re not a diverse writer

Sandi Parsons
Inspired Writer

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Penguins sheltering in manmade limestone cave
Photo Credit: Sandi Parsons

Currently, there is a big push for diverse books, especially in children’s and YA fiction. We Need Diverse Books is a non-profit organization pushing for change within publishing. The movement champions fiction that reflects the lived experience of ALL young people.

As a school librarian and someone who identifies as disabled, I strongly believe in the need for diverse books. Every child has the right to see their life accurately reflected in literature. This belief is why I spend a lot of time curating my library collection with great care. Choosing Own Voices fiction makes my job easier.

Own Voices fiction — writers telling a story from their lived experience and identifying with the same minority group as their main character is also popular with readers and publishers.

Can non-diverse writers still write diverse characters?

Each side of the diversity writing argument has passionate people advocating for their point of view. But it boils down to two main streams of thought.

For some writers (and readers), the line is firmly drawn in the sand. For years minority groups have been poorly written, often stereotyped, and used in…

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Sandi Parsons
Inspired Writer

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.