This week Jessica Norrie poses a number of questions revolving around our abilities to write authentically about our characters who might be from a different culture, religion, gender etc. As Jessica points out fantasy writers have the freedom to create a character from the ground up, but in contemporary and historical fiction it can require more than stringent research. We all draw on our own experiences with others.. and our perceptions but what else can we do to achieve that authenticity. The one thing I do know is that whatever our colour,gender, belief system we are fundamentally all human and that commonality brings with it the recognition of love, fear, hatred, pain and sorrow..So whilst we may not have experienced all the challenges that someone from a different culture might have done we as writers are creative enough to step into their shoes and imagine and empathise. Head over and read Jessica’s post for yourself and please leave your opinions in the comments over there so Jessica can respond.. thanks Sally
An author of fiction must inhabit the world of their characters convincingly. But how far may they travel from their own experience to do so?
Clearly, authors of fantasy and science fiction have the most leeway. Nobody can know what it’s really like to be an imaginary creature, an alien or someone/something from the future. Authors of historical novels must make an imaginative leap fuelled by as much accurate research as possible. But how about those of us writing contemporary fiction? Can men write as women, gay people as heterosexuals, white people as Asians or Africans, the British as Poles or able bodied writers as those with a disability? Can Ian McKewan write as an unborn child? (Of course that is an experience we’ve all had, and it seems from the reviews that he can.)
A fellow author recently posted in an online forum that she had been taken to task in…
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