Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mitali Perkins Shares Ten Tips On Writing Race in Novels

This article, Ten Tips On Writing Race In Novels is well worth reading.

Many points resonated for me, like your story with different readers in mind -- some living across borders and oceans, some dwelling on the margins of mainstream culture, and some in generations to come where race and ethnicity will be defined in completely different ways.

Will your descriptions of physical appearance confuse or exclude such readers? What's lost by leaving a few words out or replacing them with others? Do some wordplay with physical descriptions, and think about how the descriptions might empower or limit young readers.
 and #10,

Unleash your creativity when it comes to descriptions of appearance.

It's unanimous: stay away from food metaphors when it comes to describing skin color. Scrupulously avoid cliché when talking about a character's appearance.

Let's invent fresh ways of describing the human diversity on our planet, and set our young readers free to enjoy fresh ways of seeing it.

My thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for listing this post among her resources for writers and illustrators!

It's also really interesting to note that Mitali published this post on writing race in novels back in 2008... and yet because it's so useful, it remains a go-to resource, not just a dusty file in an archive.  One of the amazing truths about online content - when it's good, it has lasting power!

Illustrate and Write On,


Lauren said...

Awesome advice... but I wouldn't stop at novels... That's good advice for authors/illustrators of picture books, too. Thanks for the great post!

Jeanette W. Stickel said...

Wonderful advice. Thank you for directing us back to those valuable insights.