About too many non-white non-male characters in fiction.
Researching marketing to prepare myself for scoping out a path for new turn in my writing (switching to English wasn’t in my plans it sort of just happened) I’ve come across to expression “over-representation”. Apparently it means that you have too much non-white-male-straight characters in your story.
Well I guess I’m in trouble if that’s the problem since in my first English speaking novel I have one white male which is coincidentally received lady parts at the beginning and is gay from the start, conditions which disqualify him from conditions of “representation” that would be more realistic since we all live in world populated only by white straight men.
Other point of that story (which suggested preference of established publishers, who, I’m sure, are white-straight-men) was that if you have a male protagonist, reader will just assume he’s white and straight if you don’t specify differently.
Well I’m screwed either way.
Mostly in my stories, especially short ones, I rarely specify skin color, religion or country of origin, since it is irrelevant to most of my narratives (it’s specified only there where that factors had a role in a story, I’m quite supportive of Chekhov’s rifle on the wall, the one that needs to fire to justify its presence in the scene). And now it turns out that my color blind stories look like white centered stories.
That’s interesting since lately I’ve discovered that characters, in my previously published color blind story, are all Asian. I wasn’t aware of that fact while I wrote it because in all Asian environment there is no need for pointing irrelevant details of their eyes or skin. I only discovered the fact that they are Asian because they appear again in that novel I’m selling around. It’s visible there because that novel offers different perspective of multi colored world where skin color is mixed into many shades.
I considered my color blindness, and many other attributes like it, as a way to focus on relevant points of my story and a way to make it more universal. The way to leave room for reader to give characters secondary attributes similar to his or her own, to achieve identification, instead of being set aside as passive watcher of active super hero who can do anything.
I wonder does that statistics of assumption that all unattributed male characters are white and straight (probably preferably Christian) assume that only readers out there are likewise white, straight and male?
No wonder women are fleeing into fan fiction to find characters that are engaging world differently.
So, in my publishing history in Croatian market I’ve published female, male, gay, straight, Asian, dark, black and dragon characters. I guess I just like to over-represent because even if I live in white, catholic country run by men I have assumption of my own, that people are interested in experiences that differ from their mirror image.
I truly hope I’m right or my male, gay pale protagonist may stay stuck in my drawer and you’ll never find out will he be able to accustom to his new lady parts that were forced upon him…