Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Creating believably diverse characters

cj Sez: Lyrical Pens is happy to welcome a guest post from author R.V. Reyes. Today’s post delves into the very hot topic of the need for writing diverse and unique characters.

The call for more diverse characters in fiction writing is loud. It began with the MG/YA authors, readers, and librarians. #WeNeedDiverseBooks  Science Fiction/ Fantasy with its ability to world-build is doing a good job of it. . (Here are some great tips.) The mystery genre is doing their part, too.  At SleuthFest 2016, I was a facilitator and co-creator of a panel on diversity called Writing the Other. It focused specifically on writing characters of color and/or an ethnicity other than your own. But diversity means more than just the color of skin. It includes GLBTQ, neurological differences, size variety/body positive--- anything other than the dominate institutionalized culture.

Sisters in Crime researched and published Report for Change. They also hosted a workshop at Bouchercon called Writing to our Differences. If anything this should tell you that the time has come to reflect the reality of the world we all live in—a world that is a rich tapestry of experiences. So, the question you might be asking is—How? How do I do it authentically and respectfully if I’m not of that culture/group?

   Do Your Research!
          Know the history.
          Social media - Follow someone similar to the character you want to write.
          Ask someone who lives it daily. This might mean making new friends.
   Write It!
          Make sure your character has a NAME!
          Make sure your character is not just scenery!
          Make sure your character is not a stereotype! Test your story/scene use the Bechdel test,  the DuVernay test, The Russo Test           
   Beta Readers!
          Have a wide range of readers.
          It is okay to give someone just that scene or chapter you have questions about.        
          Be open to constructive criticism.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try. Think about your own uniqueness and what makes you different. How does it feel when you find a character that shares that quality? Do you feel validated and not so alone?  That is something we all want. Representation matters. That is why I write mysteries with Latina characters. I wasn’t seeing the world I live in represented in the genre I read. 

R.V. Reyes lives in Miami Florida where Spanish speakers are the majority. She is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America-Florida Chapter. Her theatre degree from University of New Mexico has served her well despite not making a living at directing.

Jeweler’s Mark—A Love & Diamonds Mystery is the first in a series. The story follows Gig Santos & her wild BFF, Lourdes, as they sleuth to solve the puzzle of counterfeit rings and a murder.  Set in the diverse city of Miami, the reader gets some behind the scenes knowledge of the jewelry
trade and a sampling of the many different cultures that inhabit both those worlds. While Gigi is the epitome of a young business-minded go-getter, Lourdes hasn’t evolved since high school. Their juxtaposition makes for adventure and hilarity.

Social Links:

cj Sez:  This has been an eye-opening post on diversity for me, and I appreciate the jump links provided. I hope Lyrical Pens readers will weigh in with their comments on how they create believable diversity. Thanks so much for stopping by, and best wishes for great sales and marvelous reviews for Jeweler’s Mark (I’m fascinated by the story line). 

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

PS:  How to be a heroine/hero: Set aside a buck (less than the cost of a cup of coffee or a glass of tea) and buy “More Than Friends,” a bundle of six novels offered by Crimson Romance on Amazon. For 99 cents, you can buy hours and hours of reading enjoyment for yourself, a BFF, or a grab-bag party gift. Check it out at… 


  1. This is exactly what we discussed in my Word Magic class yesterday. Diversity brings the character to life. Excellent post and love the chart.

  2. Great post! There is nothing worse in fiction than when a book is populated by a cast that is impossible to distinguish from one another. Thanks for the reminder that diversity goes beyond skin color. All best!

  3. Thank you. I'm glad you like my tips.


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