Revision Tip #6

Today we have a guest blogger, our own near and dear Bookavore. She manages a bookstore now, and has had some kind of bookselling job ever since she turned 16. Bookavore reads twice as many books in one year as I do in 10, so I consider her my in-house book expert.

She recently wrote a post about two things she is sick of seeing in books, particularly YA novels: sloppy writing in regards to race and two-dimensional characters. It’s called "In which I get frustrated and plead with authors." You need to read it right now. But brace yourself. She doesn’t pull any punches.

What do you think about her ideas?

6 Replies to “Revision Tip #6”

  1. She’s right about almost everything EXCEPT I think there is an exception for (a) when it’s the correct choice for the character’s voice — same reason Walter Dean Myers’s black adolescent boys only ever cite the race of white characters.

  2. The white-as-default rule has been around for a long time. That said, this year I’ve seen more thoughtful, respectful discussions about writing across race and culture than ever before, so I’m feeling optimistic about the future.

    I suppose my Native characters would be more likely to mention tribal affiliations because we’re more aware of that than non-Indians. But that’s a different sort of dynamic than what she’s talking about here.

    llemma (above) makes a good point about voice. Pretty much the “rule” about any “guideline” is: do it this way unless it works better some other way. It can also be helpful, as a gut check, to try to articulate why.

  3. I so agree about the race thing, and about the example she used of The Lost Symbol in particular. Dan Brown is just so proud of himself for including women, asians, and black people in his book that he’ll remind you of their race and gender every chance he gets!

  4. And we will now have to suffer through a slough of YA Vampire 90210 type stories or “No one understands me ’cause I’m a teenage blood sucker” angst nonsense. I’ve tossed books in which it seemed the author was trying to celebrate diversity rather than just tell a good story. When PC-ness trumps story, then we have indoctrination rather than a good tale.

  5. thanks for the advice,
    character development is actually one of my favorite things to do with a story (:

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