Diversity: Changing Your Language Helps Your Story

You Can Improve Your Diversity by Changing Your Language

If you’re like me, you might have spent a lot of your time wondering how you can make your stories more diverse. Sometimes the task might seem so impossible! There are so many things that you have to think about in order to make people happy with your story that it might seem like it will never happen. Believe me, I get it! But there are small things that you can do to make diversity that much easier for you. One of them that I thought of recently was changing the language we use when we’re speaking about diversity. You see, language can help us change our attitudes about certain things. If we shift the way that we speak about diversity, we can change the way to think about it and treat it in our stories. That’s going to help us so much!

No, I’m not here to police you or tell you to stop using the words you want to. This isn’t about forcing you to speak about diversity in a certain way. Sure, language can help us to change and grow as writers, especially when it comes to diversity. That doesn’t mean someone’s bad or wrong if they don’t use language in this way, though. We shouldn’t shame people who are trying! This is about helping yourself, not hating others. If you use language in a productive way, people will (hopefully) understand and respond to the way you see diversity and we can have helpful talks about how we can grow and improve as writers.

So stick around! Here are my suggestions on how you can change up your language to make your diversity come more naturally to you. If we can change the way people think about diversity, we can make the discussion a healthy one!

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Why Diversity Matters and What That Means for You

Why Diversity Matters - Image

Diversity has been a big deal with audiences lately. It seems that no matter where you look, you’ll find readers talking about how there’s not enough diversity in one story, or that a film has some great diversity in it. For a lot of people, this seems to have come out of nowhere! I mean, not long ago, we weren’t really spending much time talking about diverse casts and representation. So why does everyone suddenly care now? What’s changed? And what should you do about it?

There is nothing wrong with asking these questions. I know that it can sometimes seem like people want to scream at you whenever you ask the most simple of things. That’s an awful way to react, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. There is a very small but very vocal group of people on the internet who hate the thought of writers adding minority characters to their stories. The trolls and the racists don’t make up even a small minority of the people asking questions, but they do speak the most and the loudest. It means a lot of minority people out there are on the edge already.

But I’m not here to tell you not to ask questions. I’m here to answer any serious ones that you might have. I’m here to not treat you as evil just because you don’t understand yet. So as long as you’re willing to keep your mind open and keep a rational head, I’ll help you to understand what’s going on here.

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How To Write Diversity Well

Diversity can be a really hard thing to add to your story. It’s stressful! If you’re anything like me a few years ago, you’re worried that you’ll do it all wrong and people will hate your story. Or maybe they’ll even hate you! When you say this to other people, they might shrug you off and claim you’re being silly, but your concerns are 100% fair. I’m here to tell you that it’s normal to worry about diversity. In fact, with the way people on the internet can act sometimes, I’d be surprised if you weren’t scared!

But you don’t really have anything to worry about. Diversity has become this big, scary word, but what we mean by it is pretty simple. I think it’s a pretty bad term because it makes it seem like minorities need to be added to a story. It makes minorities seem weird or other, which is the exact opposite of what diversity should be doing. It’s about connecting people, not making them feel further apart! So many many people bite their nails about representation that it makes me feel like we’ve gone about this in the wrong way. Until we come up with something better, though, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

It’s about time that someone gives you some proper, easy-to-follow tips on how to make your casts diverse. That’s what I’m going to try my best to do! So sit tight and relax. It’s a lot easier than you’d think!

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Is Elsa Really Gay? Why Should it Matter?!

So, this post has been a long time coming. I mean, I didn’t actually have a blog to write my half-rant-half-informative posts on when I initially found this issue annoying, but it recently came up again, and I felt the sudden need to clear a few things up for my younger readers.

You see, since the release of the hit Disney film in 2013 (oh my gosh that’s five years ago. I feel damn old), people have speculated about Elsa’s sexuality. Initially, I found this really weird. I mean, we have one of the very few stories about a Disney princess (and a Queen) in which the main focus of the plot isn’t the romance! While there is a romantic element to the story, the act of true love that saved Anna was one of sisterly love, which is exciting and wonderful. Even better, it is an act that she performs herself. We have a princess who takes matters into her own hands and affects the plot without the explicit need of a man. Yes, men help her along the way. Everyone needs a little help from time to time. But it’s a world away from the times when women would just have everything done to them instead of trying to actively make their own lives better. I wouldn’t necessarily call this film revolutionary. I mean, by the time Frozen came out, we’d already had Military Mulan, Entrepreneur Tiana and Rebellious Merida, just to name a few! However, I can’t deny that the reception of Frozen and the subversion of the ‘magical-queen-is-evil’ trope helped Disney take a good few steps in the right direction.

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Episode Interactive​: Diversity Standards Don’t Always Work

Diversity standards aren’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to writing for Episode Interactive. As a mixed-race woman, believe me when I say that diversity is definitely an essential aspect for the improvement of a platform aimed at younger audiences. Globalisation has become a standard part of our world today, and so it is crucial to ensure that we are able to empathise with the people around us despite our differences. I am definitely not disputing the importance of promoting this cohesion and helping younger people to focus on the similarities rather than differences between different people. However, as a writer on Episode Interactive, I have to say that diversity standards don’t always work.

Why would I suggest this? Well, sadly, you can’t wave a magic wand and make the world more accepting. Forcing people to add diversity to their story when they have little knowledge about how to handle these topics sensitively and appropriately can do more harm than good. Despite the best efforts of these budding writers, they can often find themselves perpetuating gross stereotypes and creating two-dimensional characters to meet a quota, or they can fall into the trap of thinking that merely having a black, gay character in their story is good enough. This is especially true of an app like Episode, in which so many of the writers are young girls who are in the midst of developing their own literary style and opinions of the world.

I have to admire the efforts of some of these girls when they are creating these characters. They really do try their best to make sure that there are a plethora of characters of different ethnic origins, religions and sexualities. Often, though, this falls short of being genuine diversity when you have a look at the tropes that run through a vast majority of these stories. You may have a character in a hijab walking in the background and saying nothing, or a gay character who spends every breath in their lungs reminding you that they are, in fact, gay. Then there is the fear that I have spoken to many Episode writers about when it comes to actually making the protagonist of their story from a minority group. They fear that they will not capture the character well enough and will end up offending someone.

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