forum i have a lot of non-white characters, but i'm white. help?
Started by @croccin-champagne

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okay! to preface this, i am extremely white and was raised with as much culture as a recently cleaned kitchen counter(ha, sciemce). i do have really prominent roots in native alaskan tribes, but alas, the connection there has been pretty much nonexistant, and i really just know about it. that's it. but! in my writing, i try to include as many characters who don't fit the typical ya mold as possible. call it diversity points all you want, but people exist so.

which is where my problem arises. writing them accurately, not falling victim to harmful stereotypes, and just generally making them as relatable as 'traditional' ya mcs are to white kids. i feel like with this, the best way to focus on the characters i have questions about, would be to just give a brief synopsis of each character, along with their race, so that those at risk of feeling misrepresented could chime in! so that's what i'm going to do my best to type up here

Deleted user

I know that this tumblr blog writingwithcolor gives really good advice for stuff like this. Why not check them out? I’m also very white, so I feel you.

@Starfast group

One piece of advice that I came across that's been really helpful to me is to google "how to not write __ character." Usually, the results that come up are blog posts written by people from whatever minority about things they're sick of seeing, or forum posts with people asking similar questions. Both can be extremely helpful.
Also, I second checking out writingwithcolor. They're awesome.


catori soua: hmong(vietnamese, specifically)/hopi. the main character. she can see ghosts, interact with them physically and verbally, and aid them in moving on because of that. after her mother's death due to a gang related crime–worth saying that it was only because her mother somewhat resembled the woman they were actually after, not because she was involved–she developed a lancelot-esque way of looking at the world. does everything she can to help people who can't help themselves, but forgets herself in the process. really likes knives. terrifying when pissed off, loves the color red. was raised on the reservation her mother grew up on, in arizona, but left with her dad to washington because they figured they needed a change of scenery. she does die, briefly.

caroline huan: chinese-french-american. rich family, but her dad is making her work and has cut her off from free spending, to teach her the values of hard work, and what the real world is like. generally gets angry easy, especially at things she sees as an insult to herself. a teensy bit snobby, tends to look down on people until it's been proved that they're not at all below her. her mother is where she gets her light green eyes from, as that's the european side. wants to join the peace corp but wont admit it

johnson "jo" park: korean-american, adopted son of a lawyer and a doctor, both lovely women with a shit ton of money. his older brother, not biological but very tight, committed suicide. a lot goes into that, mainly a distrust of therapy, and ptsd from being in the military that desperately needed him to go to therapy. he loves plants and photography, withdrew into himself after his brother's death because he didn't want to get close to someone only to lose them again. his arc very much consists of him realizing it's better to have those relationships and lose them, than to never have them at all. is incredibly boy-centric(meaning gay. i thought it was a funny way to put it lmao) and ends up in a very loving and sweet relationship with a boy who's had a crush on him for years

kasper "kas" green: the boy. an irish-american artist who is very far from the traditional stereotype of irish people. a very soft person, loves pastels and dyes his hair a myriad of pastel colors. he's a prophet, which runs in his family. the visions come through his art, and occasionally dreams, usually very vague but sometimes incredibly concerning. he lives in a building with a small 'occult' shop at the bottom, and two levels above it, his family and extended family constantly cycling in and out, a good chunk of them also having varying psychic abilities. was bullied a lot for being shy, and then for being weird, once he started occasionally passing out due to a really important incoming vision. despite that, he's incredibly optimistic and caring, and gets along with pretty much everyone.

nicholas soua: hmong/hopi, catori's twin. deadname is tanzi soua. he's a genius, and was sent of to a european boarding school when he was decently young. make no mistake, he wanted to go, even though it meant leaving his family behind. however, he missed the death of his mother, and catori refused to speak to him after, feeling like he had abandoned them. his transition was hard enough as it was, but paired with the racism he faced from certain kids, it left him confused and unsure about everything. he chose a more european sounding name to try and ease the blow as much as he could, and threw himself into his studies. still, he felt like he needed to smooth things over with his family, and he was sick of the environment of the private school. so he came back home. he's a bit of a dick, really likes reading and knowing more than other people. also has the same abilities as catori, but because he wasn't home to know what they were and to learn about them, he internalized and locked them up.

francisco "cisco" avillero: his mom was an immigrant from spain, his dad was a descendant of spanish immigrants. his dad left them a while ago, because his mom told him he either needed to get out, or leave behind his conman schtick and shape up to being a good father. cisco is terrified of ending up like his father, but in some way, feels like it's all he'll ever amount to. he's on a scholarship to the private school, not on grades, but for his athleticism(sports man. what sport? no clue). loves his mom and little sister with all of his heart. dresses like the bad boy in a wattpad novel and is simply a loser. drinks a lot when he can. also a goofball.

i have a ghost character who's death involves him being killed by a group of men, in another town, after they found out he had been dating a black woman. the reason they stepped so far with him was because after being forced to watch her die, he tried to attack the people who killed her. he's from sometimes before the fifties, that's about all i know there, but one of his big things is trying to find her. if anyone thinks that it's insensitive, please tell me how to rewrite it, or if i should scrap it all. i wanted it in there because the girl(they were teens) is also an important character in the story, both of them are, but i realized that with when they had died, it wouldn't have been accepted

and if anyone has tips on muslim characters, i have a side character who i'd like to write accurately


thank you guys! i've used writing with color's tumblr post about how to describe skintones without using food analogies(i never liked them, but there were a couple where i hadn't found alternatives until that post) so i'll have to check out the blog!!

@Althalosian-is-the-father book

Hey I have a Korean American named Park too! His name is Ian. He is having an existential crises and is kind of sweet even though he’s casually blunt.

Visions through art? I’ve never heard of something like that before so I absolutely love it.


hfdhjdf they sound like they'd get along decently well!

poor kas'll be painting with something in mind and next thing he knows, there's just a prophecy of someone dying or something on his canvas. imagine how much of a pain in the ass that would be


oh cool!! are there any ways you suggest i include notes that make it very obvious that the character is muslim? i've read before that having the character turn down a snack because they're fasting, or slipping out of class(it is set in a school for quite a bit so) for prayer are good ways to do that. the vague character i have in mind is female, too, so any info on writing hijab-wearing characters is appreciated too!!


Ya what you're doing is pretty good. We fast during Ramadan which currently is around the end of the school year so she could be shown fasting. We don't eat or drink anything from Fajr prayer (sunrise basically) till Maghrib (sunset) also Ramadan isn't the only time we fast. There are other days where its recommended to fast because it's tradition of the Prophet Mohammed. Also durring ramadan people who have they're periods get like an off day and they have to make it up later in the year. Also for praying, muslims have to do Wudduh which is kinda hard to explain so you could do research on it but like its a way to be clean before praying. For hijab, I feel like there's a stereotype that women dress super duper modest but like unless they're super religious, they're pretty casual. Like usual clothing would be jean, sweatpants, longer skirts usually with something underneath if they're cut a little short, sometimes if you're wearing tighter pants you wear a longer shirt. Usually the guide is to wear a shirt that covers you butt. We can't wear short sleeves so we usually layer them with a long shirt underneath or a jacket above. Most muslim girls wouldn't wear leggings or similar pants. Also, if your story takes place in modern day in like the U.S. or a similar country please don't write your character as "oppressed from wearing the hijab." I really hate hearing that. Most hijab wearing muslims choose to wear it on they're own. Like sometimes family pressures you a little to wear it but mostly its just encouraged its not forced or anything. Also, hijab itself isn't like required so you don't have to make your a character wear the hijab but if you want it to be obvious she's muslim, then you could. Also, your character doesn't have to be from a specific place like the middle east or smth. I personally am from there, but there are so many muslims from all over the world. I feel like on names, a lot of muslims have an arabic name though so you could look into that for your character. For food, we can't have pork, alcohol, i cant think of anything else those are the big ones. Usually gummy candies and everyday foods have this thing called gelatin so u could have her decline something with it. Idk i feel like im ranting but i hope this helped if you need anymore info feel free to ask me.


thank you!! that's super helpful, and i'll be sure to ask questions that come up as i'm writing her! she'll likely make an appearance soon, as the scene i'm on leads into a schoolday.

also dude, fuck the 'hijabs are oppressive' shit. it's only oppressive if it's forced and unwanted, i absolutely get that. people who say shit like that piss me off, and i hate that i used to have the same mindset until i was made aware that they're worn by choice, not by force