Wednesday, 13 September 2017

REVIEW: Writing Diverse Characters for Fiction, TV or Film by Lucy V. Hay

At last! A book that pinpoints why we need more diversity in the characters we read about, watch or importantly, write about. Not only does Lucy's book highlight the same dreary old stereotypes (my own particular bĂȘte noire being the lack of complexity in disabled characters), she gives the reader some excellent observations and insights as to how to actually redress the situation in their own writing without reorting to jargon (I hate jargon!) or exhortations to the writer to flagellate themselves IMMEDIATELY in the name of white, male, middle-class, ableist, homophobic guilt. Save it for the writing, people!

Which is not to say that the writer shouldn't examine their own unconscious bias when writing about characters that have hitherto been marginalised. If the adage 'write what you know' has any value at all, it is surely the writer's own inner workings that prove a worthy source of knowledge. In the age of the internet, as Lucy says, it's never been easier to research the reality of lives that are dramatically different from the writer's own. Authenticity is the name of the name of the game when writing diverse characters, not the recycling of tired old stereotypes (dead sex worker, inspirational disabled person - AARGH!) from OTHER FILMS. This is certainly soemthing I've been guilty of in the past in my own writing. Reading Lucy's book has sparked off some interesting tangents that I hope will enliven my own work.

Lucy backs up her observations with facts and figures, quotes from peers, established writers and producers and her own expertise built up over many years of script reading, writing and blogging. She's not afraid to practise what she preaches. Most importantly, she is passionate about writing, writers and the strength of connections, relationships and community. And if you think it's 'political correctness gone mad' - consider this: audiences want stories that reflect their own realities. Films, series and books that flip the usual characters on the head will be the ones that get made, talked about and REMEMBERED. Isn't that what any writer wants?


Writing Diverse Characters for Fiction TV or Film

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