José Pablo Iriarte, author and educator, explains the necessary nuance in telling stories that include characters with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Iriarte names two ways that writers can fail when creating characters from marginalized people groups. The first, he says, is relatively obvious. Some authors write stereotypical portrayals of cultures by blending different tropes together into one or two people. This is not only bad writing, but it can be incredibly offensive. On the other hand, authors can write a real person, who happens to be of a race different than their own. This can be a good idea if the story is set in a fictional time or place. However, an author needs to be conscious of the fact that racism, bigotry, and prejudice exist and those things influence the world that marginalized people groups live in. It also shapes how a character chooses to engage in the world. Writing with this in mind is vital but difficult. Iriarte explains, in great depth, the nuances of this second point in a way that is helpful for authors as they develop characters.
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