This Thing I Realized About My WIP

9

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.

This picture was taken at night, hence the lines on the screen

This picture was taken at night, hence the *beautiful* quality of the screen.

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.

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9 thoughts on “This Thing I Realized About My WIP

  1. Spike Cordiner says:

    Nope, not too rambling at all 🙂 The book sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing it!

    I think there’s nothing more annoying than making a character black, white, male, female, gay, straight or whatever in order to say “Hey look, I’m being diverse!” Happily, you’re not doing that 🙂

    For me at least (YMMV, etc) it’s not even a matter of ‘so long as it serves the story’ (and I’m distinguishing between ‘serves’ the story and ‘fits’ the story). Fitting the story is legitimate. In my current WIP, most of the action takes place in the north of England so most of the characters are white and that fits the story. ‘So long as it serves the story’ seems to be too often used as an excuse, a code for ‘I didn’t want to do anything different.’

    As it is, many of my characters are white males because that’s who I am and that’s the perspective that works for me as a writer of these stories. That said, one of the MCs is female and another is gay. Because, as it usually is for me, that’s how the story fell out.

    Does that make sense?

    • Totally!

      I’ve never thought of the difference between ‘serves’ the story and ‘fits’ the story, so thanks for pointing that out!

      And yes, I think we should write what fits the context of our stories, and let diversity come naturally. I have a ‘queer’ character as well, although his story (he was born a ‘she’) is not going to be focused on in this first book, but his orientation came naturally…and there was a reason for it.

      Thank you so much, Spike! You don’t have a blog and it’s really nice hearing your thoughts on issues 🙂

  2. I think diversity is important in books and I’d love to see more people of color as protagonists..but of course it has to fit the story! What you said here makes a lot of sense. The fact that the love interest is a minority is great. And I love that race isn’t an issue at all in the book – that’s the way it should be, IMO.

    Good luck with your WIP!

  3. Yes, your rambling post made sense (you write blogs like I do, LOL). Your book sounds so fascinating! I love the concept of the two protagonists being from such opposite regions.

    • I love you more everyday, Jodi! Thank you! I wouldn’t mind swapping with you when I’m done, although I’m sure I’ll lag behind, what with the impressive figure on your blog’s wordcount widget 😉

      • I’d love to swap when we’re both done! I can’t wait to read DoTs sister-MS. 😀 My impressive figure is only because I’m on summer break. I’ll be screeching to a halt here VERY soon–the first week of August to be exact–once I’m back to work. Then my poor widget bar will likely be frozen in place for months. Maybe that’ll give you some time to catch up. 😉

        • =D Hope I catch up! My break is only for five weeks…and in honesty, my widget bar here should read 1700 words because I restarted the whole thing, but keeping it there motivates me to write up to that number again!

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