Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2023 #Potluck – #writing #StoryEmpire – Characters and Diversity. Part 2 – Wealth by Gwen Plano

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives 2023 where I will be sharing posts from the last six months of 2022 I have selected from the archives of willing participants. If you wish to be included the information is at the the end of the post.

Author Gwen Plano is a contributor to Story Empire and in her first post in this series I am sharing one she wrote about including diversity in our writing and in this case about the differences in circumstances between the people we live and work with. I have included the links to part one and three of the series.

Characters and Diversity. Part 2 – Wealth  by Gwen Plano

Hello Story Empire friends, Gwen with you today.

Last month I initiated a series on including diversity in our stories. I explained that I would address the topic through personal experiences. The first post focused on race; you can read it here if interested.

This post looks at diversity in terms of financial status. Similar to the prior post, I begin with a story.

When I was around ten years old, our family moved to a different farmhouse about eight miles from our other home. It had two bedrooms, but dad enclosed the porch and created an additional room. My three brothers slept in that space, and the four girls slept in the adjacent room. Mom and dad had the third bedroom. I never thought of the house as small when I was growing up, but now I realize how crowded it was for a family of nine.

Because of the move, my sibs and I needed to change grade schools. Mom wanted us to attend the Catholic school in town and not the school just a couple of miles from our house. She was concerned that each of us have a proper Catholic education. At the country school, all the kids came from families involved in farming. We wore hand-me-downs and clothes that our mothers made for us, and our shoes were often covered in dirt. I never thought this unusual until I began school in town.

At the new school, there was an unspoken hierarchy of those from wealthy families and those from working families. My self-consciousness sharpened as I began seeing what I hadn’t seen before. My saddle shoes and homemade skirt were unlike what the other girls wore. I never noticed shoes before fourth grade. But from that time forward, I suffered them.

Photo from Canva

What does this have to do with our characters?

Each of us recognizes the haves and the have-nots, and that awareness began in childhood. At a young age, we observed the difference and internalized it in unspoken ways. Most commonly, we associated it with self-worth.

If you plan to include this aspect of diversity in your stories, I offer four suggestions to consider:

  • Reflect upon when you first noticed the haves and the have-nots. Think about what triggered that awareness. At the time, did you consider yourself rich or poor, or neither? Did you feel that you didn’t fit in? Use those sentiments to give life to your characters.
  • Unravel your buried judgments about wealth. When you see someone drive up in a limousine or someone begging on a street corner, do you associate either with intelligence or the lack of it, with privilege or bad luck or laziness? Do these contrasting circumstances, in some small way, affect your sense of the value of a person? How might you use this in a story?
  • Research financial disparity. Find out who is homeless and why they are. Look into who is working two jobs. Identify the struggles of a single parent. Review the statistics. If you plan to include the diversity of wealth in your story, it is helpful to lay the foundation through research.
  • Walk in your character’s shoes. Whether rich or poor or somewhere in-between, take the time to walk where your characters walk, figuratively or for real. Feel the difference between searching through a trash can for food and ordering lunch at a lush restaurant. Visit a shelter or a soup kitchen, and sit next to someone you might otherwise avoid. Then, bring that experience into your story through your characters.

Wealth diversity is not as transparent as race – except in the extreme. We may notice high-end accessories or the make of a car, but we don’t know what is in the bank. We may walk past beggars or long stretches of homeless lean-tos and tents, but we don’t see the families who have crowded together inside a motel room. If we include wealth diversity, our words can expose the different realities.

That’s it for me today, dear readers. Next month I’ll address diversity in terms of physical ability. Till then, take good care of yourself and find ways to celebrate the wonders of life.

©Gwen Plano 2022

My thanks to Gwen for allowing me to share the posts from her archives and I know she would love to hear from you.

About Gwen M. Plano

Growing up in Southern California, Gwen M. Plano loved learning, and she loved imagining stories, some grandly epic, all personal and heartfelt. She taught and served in universities across the United States and in Japan, then retired and focused again on her stories.

Her first book, Letting To Into Perfect Love, is an award-winning memoir recounting some of her struggles in life while providing insight into the healing process.

Gwen shifted to fiction after this first book and joined forces with acclaimed author John W. Howell in writing a thriller, The Contract: between heaven and earth. Its sequel, The Choice: the unexpected heroes, soon followed – this time a solo effort. The Culmination, a new beginning, is the third book of the series.

Gwen lives in the Midwest with her husband, traveling and writing, sharing those stories only she can imagine.

Books by Gwen M. Plano

One of the reviews for Culmination

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 5, 2023

Just like the 2nd book in this series, this one (the 3rd) starts where the last left off. Admiral Joseph Parker and his soulmate, Julie underwood, have been shot and are recuperating in the hospital. Their lives are still at risk as their team’s efforts start zeroing in on a secret cabal working to destabilize the world with an assassination and nuclear missile launch.

At the 20% mark, the book makes a dramatic shift to the world theater. New main characters, primarily the US Vice President Margaret Adler and the Russian Prime Minister Ivan Smirnov take center stage. A meeting of world leaders to address nuclear arsenal reductions ends with a tenuous alliance, an unexpected romance, plans to address Syria, and a worldwide threat to peace.

World politics, including military strategies and governmental negotiations, continue through the end of the book. Cajoling and strong-arming are balanced by logic, honor, and an altruistic desire to do the right thing. This read made me long for this fictional world where most political choices aren’t tied to greed and power.

The strong romantic subplot breaks up the fast-paced narrative and political/military action. The characters are engaging, smart, and resourceful, and perhaps a little too good to be true. It was interesting to see what might happen if the US, Russia, and the Middle East could cooperate with each other with the best interests of the world in mind. Highly recommended to fans of political thrillers. 

Read the reviews and buy the books: : Amazon UKand : Amazon USAs Gwendolyn M. Plano: Amazon US follow Gwen : Goodreads –website:Gwen PlanoTwitter: @gmplano

How to feature in the series?

  • All I need you to do is give me permission to dive in to your archives and find two posts to share here on Smorgasbord. (
  • Rather than a set topic, I will select posts at random of general interest across a number of subjects from the second six months of 2022. (it is helpful if you have a link to your archives in your sidebar by month)
  • As I will be promoting your books as part of the post along with all your information and links so I will not be sharing direct marketing or self- promotional posts in the series.
  • If you are an author I am sure you will have a page on your blog with the details, and an ‘about page’ with your profile and social media links (always a good idea anyway). I will get everything that I need.
  • As a blogger I would assume that you have an ‘about page’ a profile photo and your links to social media.
  • Copyright is yours and I will ©Your name on every post… and you will be named as the author in the URL and subject line.
  • Previous participants are very welcome to take part again.
  • Each post is reformatted for my blog and I don’t cut and paste, this means it might look different from your own post especially if you are using the block editor
  • If I do share a post which contains mainly photographs I will share up to five and link back to the original post for people to view the rest.

N.B – To get the maximum benefit from your archive posts, the only thing I ask is that you respond to comments individually and share on your own social media.. thank you.

61 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2023 #Potluck – #writing #StoryEmpire – Characters and Diversity. Part 2 – Wealth by Gwen Plano

  1. This was such a great post from Gwen. She has such deep insight into this and I loved the way she presented the information. Thanks for sharing this archive, Sally! Congratulations to Gwen!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve thought a lot about this topic from my years as an elementary teacher. Interestingly what kids observe regarding the haves vs. the have-nots becomes more evident as children get older. Most children in 2nd grade don’t notice or comment on differences between children. Yet, by 5th and 6th grade, they see everything, which becomes more of an issue. I recall one year when some girls put other kids down for wearing “clothes that came from K-Mart.” Of course, the teacher sets the tone by not tolerating that type of behavior.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This was a very thought-provoking post, Sally and Gwen – fantastic advice. I seem to have quite a few wealthy people in my books – not writing about what I know best lol.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This was such an engaging post from Gwen. I’m keenly aware of economic stressors, having worked for years counseling families with few to no means. The impact transverses every age group. Reading about Gwen’s experience was moving, and her tips are excellent. A great post to share, Sally, and thanks for including my review of her riveting series. Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is difficult to know what to write about these days, as there are always questions being asked when one writes about anything outside their personal experience. Thanks to Gwen for her excellent advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe that we are all exposed to so much more these days with film and television dramas, as well as the media reporting on every aspect of the ‘celeb’s lives’ that readers expect to see it reflected in our stories. It is why I quite like writing fantasy… ♥


  6. A good review.
    As regards diversity and understanding:
    My parents couldn’t get onto the council house list so my mum and dad bought a house.
    There were those who thought we were posh because they had council homes .
    Little did they realise that behind those curtains we had make do and mend furnature, nothing new.
    It certainly made me appreciate what we had and to understand that mum and dad worked hard.
    They never used credit. Mum still doesn’t.
    good job there are still cheques.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a fantastic series by Gwen. I’m glad it’s been shared here. The idea of poor and wealthy characters make those characters real. They, in turn, add life to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great share here Sal. Gwen makes some excellent points about awareness and how to enrich book characters with adding dimension about wealth adversity besides the race and religious ones. Hugs to both ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

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