BOOK REVIEW: WRITING DIVERSE CHARACTERS FOR FICTION, TV OR FILM by LUCY V. HAY


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We have here a very important book indeed. It’s bold and it’s brave, but it’s also exactly what we need to learn to elevate our game in this industry in the current climate.
writing diverse characters for fiction tv or film lucy v hay

At the time of printing, this book is the only one of its kind. With representation of LGBTQ, BAME and disabled characters on a positive rise, we need to know how to tackle it – no matter what the writer’s gender, sexual orientation, race or ability.

Lucy presents us with the facts and figures, and also the myths. The sad thing is, no matter how clued-up a writer is or how hard a piece of fiction works to make a positive impact, there will always be trolls who will want to dissect it all.

On the other end of the spectrum, there will also be those who only ever think of the inclusion of diverse characters as ‘tick-boxing’ or even ‘political correctness gone mad’.

This book is a breath of fresh air, and far from lecturing on the above topics to the point of exhaustion, Lucy weaves it into lessons on good characterisation and development, and how cultural differences over the years affect characterisations and their stereotypes.

I love how Lucy emphasises the need for RELEVANCE above all else in this book. If characters are not relatable, then a writer is at a disadvantage and may fall at the first hurdle. Yet, relatable doesn’t have to mean stereotyping or ‘selling out’.

Identifying audiences; what sells, to whom, and where in the world, can really help. This book contains some fascinating facts. Did you know, that Hispanic people go to the cinema the most, accounting for 25% of ALL US ticket sales, despite only making up 17% of the population?

Lucy also helps us to plan for the process AFTER you’ve written your work. Essentially: how to sell rather than selling out. By giving us a fictional concept/plot and examining its strengths and pitfalls, as well as what might be asked of the author by agents or producers, Lucy allows us to understand the importance of being open-minded versus sticking to your guns; all with diversity firmly in mind.

Of course, we also get lots of insight into existing characters and plots, and what makes them work. By the end, you feel much more enthusiastic about tackling your work in a fresh and current way.

Yes, you may still feel a bit scared, but you will feel like you CAN research and write previously untold, or lesser told, stories and characters.

You can get Lucy’s book HERE!

Read more from Lucy herself on her blog HERE!

Writing Diverse Characters discusses issues of race, disability, sexuality and transgender people with specific reference to characterisation – not only in movies and TV, but also novel writing. Taking in blockbuster movies such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Russell T Davies’ ground-breaking TV series Cucumber and the controversial novel Gone Girl, the book explores:

● How character role function really works
● What is the difference between stereotype and archetype?
● Why ‘trope’ does not mean what Twitter and Tumblr think it means
● How the burden of casting affects both box office and audience perception
● Why diversity is not about agendas, buzzwords or being ‘politically correct’
● What authenticity truly means and why research is so important
● Why variety is key in ensuring true diversity in characterisation

Writers have to catch up. Knowing not only what makes a ‘good’ diverse character doesn’t always cut it; they need to know what agents, publishers, producers, filmmakers and commissioners are looking for – and why. This book gives writers the tools to create three dimensional, authentic characters … who just happen to be diverse.

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