My WIP is set on a human-colonized world about a thousand years in the future.
Humans from all over the Earth were part of the original colony 500 years ago (er…from now?) and even more diverse people emigrated to the planet over the next few centuries.
The result? A planet where the way a person looks has little or nothing to do with what part of the globe they’re from.
In many ways, this imaginary world is not diverse, because people on this planet share a similar lifestyle, traditions, and community goals. Sure, there are pockets of people who might share a particular characteristic or customs, but those are trivial compared to the differences within 21st century humanity.
Although I have certain visuals in my mind of each character to start with (Christian Slater and/or Ricky Schroder show up in almost every story…) when I’m fleshing out the character I like to think that they could have the physical characteristics of a conglomeration of human ethnicities in any combination. Descriptions can be difficult when you get beyond height, skin tone, eye color, and hair color.
Even more difficult for me is how a twenty-first century audience will interpret my character descriptions as related to that character’s other traits.
I was recently thinking about how some of my characters might look. I can’t have a Christian Slater in every story, even though many characters start that way. I also tend to have a tall, handsome, red-headed Scotsman in every story, and I will make a point to change that in edits. After I had found some images I liked and defined my characters’ appearances more specifically (and diversely) I panicked. These characters had flaws…one was really oblivious to his friends’ feelings, another struggled with a post-traumatic mental breakdown. Others had a variety of personal issues.
“OMG…I can’t do this…what if someone thinks I’m saying that all ____ are _____?”
Of course, I’m not saying this. One of my overall writing goals is to say that people are people, that humans are diverse and yet the same in so many ways! But of course, I run the risk that a reader might look at just one story, put the implied ethnicity together with the character’s personality traits, and assume I’m making some kind of statement. It almost makes me want to take out my gaming dice and roll a random number to generate each character’s skin tone, facial features, and other physical characteristics. Of course, some characteristics are necessary to the character. Scharona (Under the Radar) might have the hair and skin of Lolo Jones, but Scharona has a muffin top that is far from Olympic perfection.
- Do something writing-related every day: Mostly. One day it was just re-reading a little, but I give myself a B+ overall.
- Do some actual writing every week: Oh most definitely. I could do more, but I’ve cranked out a good number of brand new words.
- Engage with other writers every week: Just the usual little social stuff and commenting on blogs. Nothing much, but enough.
- Stay away from the NaNo story for at least a month: My brain does still go back to the story every once in a while, and I have to distract myself. I sometimes second-guess my decision to spend January working on other stories in the same universe…maybe I should have got my brain completely out of that world…
- Get sleep: This continues to be a struggle. Yes, I am getting sleep, but sometimes at the cost of actual living time. My best writing time is around midnight (it’s 12:13 AM now) and the wee hours, and my hubby takes care of the morning routine so I can sleep in the mornings. Sleep issues and anxiety attacks are another blog post.