Questions 3: Writing About Hatred

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Setting this up in March, so I don’t know how messy Monday went.  Hopefully I’m not reopening barely healed wounds or subjecting myself to more fighting.  After all, hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and all of the other words for hating people for existing is a sensitive subject.  Everyone has different levels of acceptance and perspectives too.  This is seen a lot in humor where some people will be okay with certain jokes and others will not.  It makes these topics a risk to bring up and a challenge to discuss, especially on the Internet.  So, let’s see how it goes:

  1. What is one of the worst depictions of a maligned group that you’ve seen in fiction?
  2. What is one of the best depictions of a maligned group that you’ve seen in fiction?
  3. Should an author avoid writing maligned groups that they are not a part of?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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8 Responses to Questions 3: Writing About Hatred

  1. That’s a pretty profound meme, Charles 😃

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  2. Not much to offer here. I don’t think we should hide from including a variety of peoples. Someone has to be the bad guy, so we have to be careful to make that come across properly. They aren’t bad because they’re X, but some more personal reason. I posted recently about the Indian Wars, but you could apply that to any warfare kind of tale. Pick a side, the other has to be the bad guys.

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  3. L. Marie says:

    1. Hmm. Hard to really say. I can only think of the adaptation of Wizard of Earthsea. The casting director completely ignored the author’s descriptions of her characters and hired generic actors who didn’t fit the people group in the least. I remember the author had a disclaimer on her website stating that she was not in favor of that adaptation?
    2. I have classmates who told their own stories via novels. Those are the most authentic.
    3. I’m not in favor of telling people what stories they can’t write. However, I would advise anyone who wants to do so to get someone from that group to do a sensitivity read of your manuscript. I heard a talk by one of the librarians at the Smithsonian who vowed only to seek books by authors within that people group because he was tired of reading books by people who didn’t really understand the culture.

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    • 1. I remember liking that movie, but I hadn’t read the books. Did they really mess up minority characters in that? Also, I’m getting the sense that I shouldn’t have used the word ‘maligned’ like I saw on various websites.

      2. Real life stories do tend to work best in this arena.

      3. I just started hearing about sensitivity readings. They seem useful, but I’ve noticed that it can still backfire. Usually with someone outside the group being offended on their behalf and triggering something. Not sure I agree with the Smithsonian person though. An aspect will always be lacking even with research and sensitivity readings. So that comes very close to saying only those in a group can write about them. At least for me.

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      • L. Marie says:

        In regard to Earthsea, yes. The author had a specific race in mind and the producers totally ignored the character descriptions and pretty much the plot of that book and the other book they shoehorned into the plot. I read the series and could only take about 40 minutes of the adaptation.

        Publishers call for sensitivity readers just to cover themselves. I say that because I have been a sensitivity reader. But I agree that having one is no guarantee that someone won’t get offended by a book.

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      • I think I do remember people complaining about them combining books. That seems to be a common mistake for adaptations. Maybe they don’t think it’ll go behind the first one.

        Do publishers have sensitivity readers on staff?

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