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Author Topic: writing POC  (Read 4248 times)
Falthor
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« on: February 08, 2017, 02:30:46 PM »

okay. Does anyone have any resources or research i should look into for writing POC as a White Male?

I have a character I'm fleshing out who is of Indian/Canadian decent, and female.  I'm basing her on someone I used to know but I wrote a quick couple of paragraphs and then noticed ona blog of "how not to write POC" that I'd already made a couple mistakes in how I should be handing it well.  This story is sortof AN expansion on the universe of "What Happened at Kate's House" (I mentioned it in another thread about using the same backdrop for adifferent sotry) but I knwo that one of the main story arcs in this story is between Maxwho is a white male, and Aleisha who is Indian Canadian.  I already have ideas and idiosicracies from past interactions with school mates and the like but I want to delve much deeper into this and make this a good and true representation (BTW I didn't pick the name, she did).

Currently I'm just googling and reading anythgin about writing POC, and it's been a good expirience so far, but I'd love to see more, and possibly some more detailed ideas about modern Indian women in general.

Any help will be appreciated.
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Munley
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 07:17:39 PM »

When you say "Indian Canadian," do you mean someone in Canada who is a descendant of people in India?

Or someone who belongs to one of the First Nations tribes in Canada?
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Falthor
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 08:51:20 PM »

peopel from India.  Liek I said she is based on someone I knew in highschool and I understand her personality and everythign ut I want a better understanding of her beliefs and what made her into what she was.

we call first nations people either that or native americans.
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Munley
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 12:48:10 AM »

I don't know if this will be helpful. It is a Sikh lawyer, Valerie Kaur, speaking in the U.S. of the current backlash against anyone with darker skin, and a has a historical perspective from the time her grandfather came over in 1913.

https://www.facebook.com/court.wheeler/videos/10210476160254285/
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Rachael846
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 04:29:37 AM »

This is all just my opinion, but...you need to immerse yourself in that kind of person's life in every way you can. First stop is going to be finding any fiction and non-fiction you can read written about that kind of person, for that kind of person, and by that kind of person. In your case, it might be tricky to find enough if you think of it specifically as Canadian, so you could broaden that to anyone in the diaspora in Canada, the US, England, or Australia.

YouTube is also invaluable if you can find a network of video bloggers. It takes some time to find something that fits, but there are tons of normal people from every walk of life who pour their hearts out online. (You might also just look for regular blogs, too.) I recently binged a ton of blogs and vlogs by children of American expats for a new book, so you can really find anything under the sun in blog or vlog form. Keep in mind though, that that kind of thing can seem personal and off the cuff, but it's still a bit of a show. People online will show you what they want you to see, so think critically and know it's likely not the whole story.

You might also poke around where you live in real life. Often times there are communities that might have festivals open to the public where you can go and try food or do little crafts and stuff. That's obviously just the surface culture, but it's a start. Even in my area that's really rural we have a Latin food fest every year with tons of different countries and cultures, and in the larger city nearby there's even a Turkish festival every year.

You should also look into history, because our history does follow us whether we understand it or not. (It's a big part of that giant iceberg that's below the surface.) I'd like to recommend The Great Courses Plus, because I know they have a video series on the history of India in addition to one specifically on the history of British India. Plus there are other lecture series that include episodes about different aspects of Indian culture. And I think you can get your first month free! I love that site, and I think it's great for worldbuilding, but I'm a huge nerd. ;)

Anyway, with all of that information, you need to get really detailed about your specific character and her individual background. Was she born in India and immigrated to Canada herself? At what age? Under what circumstances? Or was she born in Canada? What generation Canadian is she? (I, for example, am fourth generation Mex-Am. My story is going to be very different from that of a more recent immigrant.) Why did her family originally immigrate? How has their time been in Canada? Have they been successful there or has it been rough? Do they keep close ties to family in India or are they mostly independent here? Do they enjoy keeping up with news and entertainment from India or do they think of themselves as more Canadians? 

Also, India is incredibly diverse. It will likely never show up spelled out on the page in your novel (more of the iceberg), but you should know where the character's family came from in India specifically not just that they're from India. (There's a lot of regional variation in culture...religion, foods, languages...) I don't know enough about India to direct you myself, but it's like when people say, "I've got a Hispanic character!" Well great, but where exactly are they from? Because there's a big difference between a Peruvian family and a Guatemalan family. Even within a small country like Guatemala, there are regional variations and variations based on family ancestry (more Spanish ancestors or more Native American ancestors? If native, which tribe? Etc...) So anyway, get specific.

Then, you take all that information and figure out what's important to your character specifically, and why. Did she grow up hearing stories of her grandmother's signature dish but has never actually tasted it, so she always orders it in restaurants to try to get an idea of what it should be like? Does the family blend Indian and Canadian holidays and religious events or do they stick to just one? (Again, why?) Did mom try to get her to take Indian food in a lunch box when she was little and now she resents any part of the culture that makes her stand out? (Or did that make all the other kids jealous and now she's super popular because of it?) Everyone has different experiences and there's no one way to be Indian Canadian, so you can pick and chose to an extent, but you'd better know the backstory of why.

Oh, and also, it would be good to look up what the common tropes are about Indians and immigrants in general and then see how you can avoid them. I know there's a website that lists tropes and examples...is it TV Tropes? I think that's the site.

One last thing...As you're going along, think to yourself, "How would I feel having a [insert type of character here] read this?" If you're not terrified, you're probably not doing it right. Learn enough to empathize enough with that kind of person to be terrified of getting it wrong because you love them so much you don't want to hurt them. You probably will get something wrong, even someone from that background can get something wrong. That's ok, but find people who can help you fix it and keep fixing it until you're proud.
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Falthor
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 10:33:42 AM »

I've actually reached out to the person I'm basing this character on to se if she is okay with it and if she can help me with the characterization as well, possibly work as a sympathy reader to make sure I haven't stepped over any boundries.

My friend is was born in canada, it was her parents that Migrated here, so her mind set, attitude, and general demeanor is easy enough to pick up, she is canadian first and indian second if that makes sense.  but she is goign to be a main POV told from 1st person, so I'm looking to really get into her head and have things spelled out as much as possible.  Thanks for that whoel post Rachael right now I'mjust skimming the basics "these characterizations can come off as offensive" type stuff, and will be digging into the cultural background in a little bit when I get to her first section of the book, or earlier, but defintiely before I start writing from her POV.

Right now the way I see the story going is that she has come to the party with her best friend max who is white.  They have thought about being more in the past but never did because max's dad is a little racist, and Aleisha's dad is very traditional and wants her to date an indian guy.  Both are Virgins and somehow came up with the idea of doing something about that at this party, and why not with your best friend? kid of thought.  So I have to write from her point of view but put as much if not more research into the way her dad would view this as well, even if he's not really a character in the book. I really want to do the character justice, and more than that I really don't want to offend anyone while doing it.

Why does everything I write sound like a cliche when I boil it down to it's bare minimals?

Anyways that's one of the story arc's and the first POV in the book happens to be Max's.  I caught myself comparing the color of her skin to food before I even finished the first paragraph and put a stop to that.  I'm currently doing the research I can, and will defintiely be loking at getting a sympathy reader to go through the book when it gets to that point as there is a very good chance that there will be other POC as well.
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Falthor
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 03:22:44 PM »

Whole bunch of good info/link on this site:

http://weneeddiversebooks.org/writers/
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2017, 10:20:59 AM »

I'd check out Writing in the Margins.

And you're going to need sensitivity readers
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Falthor
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2017, 10:33:53 AM »

Absolutely...   gonna wait until I have more down.  As the characters introduced themselves to me I was actually nicely surprised by a couple POC and a gay male.  So...  lots of research to do,and lots of sensitivity readersto employ  :-)

I'm actually a little jazzed by the challenge in uch the same way as I was when I was writing the girls last time around.
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Rachael846
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2017, 04:31:33 PM »

I'm going to put this over here because the thread's title makes it more likely that future board members looking for info on this topic will find it. Plus I've already posted about writing diversely in this thread.

An author I love was posting today about the whole sensitivity reads thing and she said something I really liked. She said sensitivity reader is not actually a great name for the concept. She suggested "targeted beta reader," something you would think of similarly to other experts you might target to be beta readers for you.

For example, if you wrote a medical mystery, you'd hopefully try to get some kind of expert, a doctor of some sort, to read and make sure your medical facts weren't too far off track. Or if you wrote military near-future sci-fi, you'd look for someone with military experience. And sure, you can put your work out there without doing that, but you might get stuff wrong if you're not already an expert in that area.

(Is the idea of having expert betas more of a genre thing? Maybe contemp and literary fiction writers just aren't used to the idea of using experts as beta readers in general? In everything I've learned about writing it was just a given...you have as many beta readers as you can, and some of them are writers, some of them are just readers, and some of them can be experts in fields related to the novel.)

Anyway, the idea of sensitivity readers is that they're your experts in a culture or other form of identity. They're not there to punish you or bring your book down, they're the expert you go to to double check your work and make sure it's a good read for the greatest number of people.

Just a different way of looking at it that I thought might help some people, either now or in the future...
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2017, 07:46:22 AM »

Yeah so much of the push back I see re: sensitivity readers, would be alleviated if they were called something else. It would stop the knee-jerk pearl clutching if they were called Targeted Beta readers.

I mean, publishing houses have always hired fact checkers in the past and that didn't bother anyone, but as soon as it's a fact checker in regards to a lived racial experience people get really defensive.

I also think you're right in that genre fiction, we're so used to already using specialized beta readers (though I've certainly seen push back from genre writers, too)
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