July 24, 2013 by Ifeoma Dennis
So as everyone (that reads my updates on Twitter) knows, I’ve rewritten my first scene about thirty times. Yesterday, I was thinking about openings I liked- like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, including this contest entry that garnered so many requests, and so…I decided to disobey the rules of not starting with backstory.
Okay my backstory is only one paragraph long, but it’s still backstory.
But that’s not the point of this post.
My new third paragraph reads like this (and mind you, I’m not an excerpt sharer, but I’m doing this to illustrate a point)-
But here she was.
The walk had reddened her pale cheeks, and even though she was running out of breath, she wouldn’t say she wasn’t having a good time.
And then I had a wait-a-minute! moment. I’m writing about a pale character. I’m black and I’m doing this.
Lately, there has been talk on writing diverse characters and I should be an example…but hold on, I’ll explain in a bit.
Not like I was just realizing my protagonist is pale, she has always been so in my head (for a reason I’ll soon explain) but in my previous drafts of my first scene, I never got to that point where I had to describe her. I just let it float.
But again, my protagonist’s love interest/nemesis is a dark-skinned character, if that makes any sense.
Hold on still, I’m getting to my point…
I didn’t just decide off the top of my hat to write about a pale protagonist and add a dark-skinned love interest for a touch of diversity. No, I didn’t.
My world is divided in regions, so where you grow up determines your skin color, just like it does in the real world. More sun, more melanin, less sun, less melanin.
So that’s why. My protagonist comes from a region that never sees the sun, and her love interest comes from a region that never sees the darkness (spoilers!)
So that’s it.
You might also ask me this: why didn’t you make your protagonist a person from the region that never sees darkness? Afterall, you call the shots in your fantasy world.
And I have an answer. My book is written chronologically- from the youngest to the oldest- okay this might not make sense until you’ve read my book but I decided to start with the youngest, because in the grand scheme of things it would all build up to a resolution. Although of course, each book on its own would come to a good resolution.
There’s another reason I decided to start with the youngest, but I won’t reveal that now because that’s what the concept of my story is hugely about.
So if this book ever gets to be published, then the sequels would be- again, chronological- with different protagonists, and different skin colors.
Although of course, in my fantasy world, skin color is not an issue at all. It’s a completely different issue, the thing that brought about their different ages and regions, that would be the big deal.
So hope this rambling post makes some sense.