Our editors often get asked for advice on writing cross-culturally, so we thought we’d round up some of the best links on the subject. Writing cross-culturally means writing about a culture that isn’t your own (and in this definition of culture, we include race, ethnicity, sexual identity, disabilities, and other identity markers). We have published many books by writers who wrote outside their cultures, and believe that it can be done well; in fact, writing cross-culturally is an essential component of boosting the numbersof books about diverse characters.
That being said, writing cross-culturally must be done thoughtfully and carefully. It requires research. Changing a core piece of a character’s identity is not the same as changing a character’s name or hair style; different cultures provide different lenses through which to view the world, and affect characters in a multitude of small ways.
Here are some good places to start if you are an author writing cross-culturally or thinking about writing cross-culturally:
- Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story“
- Nisi Shawl, “Transracial Writing for the Sincere“
- Nisi Shawl, “Appropriate Cultural Appropriation“
- N.K. Jemisin on describing characters of color in writing, parts one,two, and three
- Mitali Perkins’ “Writing Race: A Checklist for Writers”
- Uma Krishnaswami’s interview with Stacy Whitman, “Why Use Cultural Consultants?“
- “Tips for Writing Cross-Culturally“: Highlights from the Twitter chat between Stacy Whitman and author Karen Sandler
- Notes from Stacy Whitman’s SCBWI talk on writing multicultural books
- DiversifYA: A great blog featuring interviews with a range of writers with diverse perspectives. A great entrance into thinking about cross-cultural writing in a more nuanced way.
- Disability in KidLit: This terrific blog, run by three YA authors, offers great guest posts that explore the intricacies of daily life with a wide range of disabilities.
See the full post here. Did we miss any?
We’d add the AMA that Diversity in YA’s Malinda Lo did along with Disability in Kid Lit’s Corinne Duyvis and writer K. Tempest Bradford. Lots of great stuff archived here.
More recently, writer Daniel Jose Older’s 12 Fundamentals of Writing “The Other” (and the Self) at Buzzfeed is really useful.
Also, if you’re writing about queer characters and don’t know how to approach queer culture, you might check out Malinda Lo’s Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes in YA Fiction.