Eliana West

Diversity-How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Eliana West passionately believes that young people are our future readers, and they want to see stories of people they can relate to in worlds that look like their world, with friends of different abilities, skin color, sexual orientation, and religious and cultural backgrounds.

Sounds great.  How do we learn to get there? West will give a Don’t-Miss presentation at the WWW 2021 Conference. She is an expert at creating a safe space for writers to ask questions about diversity and learn to create REAL worlds across all genres. 

West shared a quick tip to the question:

How does a writer create characters who are different than the writer, when her/she/they doesn’t have the life experiences?

West says, If you aren’t comfortable writing a diverse character, that’s okay. Here are some other ways you can add diversity to your stories.

“Where does your character live? As yourself what your character sees when they drive down main street? 

ï      Is there a Mosque or a Synagogue as well as a church in your character’s neighborhood?

ï      What do your character’s neighbors look like? Who is playing in the park?

ï      Are there any community events happening? Was there a Diwali celebration at the community center last week? 

ï      What restaurants does your character like to go to? 

“Here’s an example of how you can add diversity and enrich your character’s backstory.  

“Stephen ladled the rich golden chicken soup into the container. This would be the perfect thing to take over to Jeff. He smiled as he added the matzoh balls. Thank goodness for Mrs. Greenfield, his next-door neighbor growing up. The Greenfields always joined his family for Christmas dinner and they always celebrated Passover with them. Mrs. Greenfield encouraged Stephen’s love of cooking, teaching him how to make challah, rugalach and most importantly her famous chicken soup with matzoh balls. He carefully packed the basket with soup, bread, and a bottle of wine. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Stephen hoped it that was true, he’d been looking forward to this date for a long time. 

“Did your character just go to a wedding or a funeral? Maybe they just came from an Indian wedding with the bride wearing a beautiful red and gold sari. How about a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? 

“These may seem like small, insignificant ways to add diversity, but it’s a start. Once you are comfortable adding diverse elements in small ways, you may feel more confident in making diversity a bigger part of your story.”  

Eliana West has more information every serious writer MUST hear. She has founded Writers for Diversity, a safe and welcoming community, encouraging questions and helping writers learn. Join us at the 2021 WWW conference as she gently leads us into becoming diverse writers for diverse worlds. 

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