1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Diversity Writing Group

Discussion in 'Writing Groups' started by Caged Maiden, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    Hello scribes!

    Since we've had ongoing discussions for the last couple years about how we portray diversity as writers of fantasy, I'd like to invite you to join a writing group that will openly discuss and foster a desire to see diversity written well in our community.

    I don't want to spell out guidelines, because I think that defeats the purpose of such a group, but I would like the focus to be on creating characters who positively reflect diversity. The group will be both on this site and taken to private emails, for the purpose of sharing, but I'd like to invite all our members to contribute in any way they can to the discussions of the group.

    If you would like to be a member of this group, please PM me your email address you'd like for group communications, and I'll set up the organization.

    No member needs to feel like they must contribute their own work. It's my goal to see our diverse MS community work to uplift writers of diverse characters, and we need readers as much as we need writers. Whether our members feel like sharing a section, a manuscript, or simply wish to discuss the characterizations of diverse characters for their novel-planning, I'm hoping to offer this group as a resource for those wishing to ask their questions and have readers give feedback in a private setting, rather than on a public forum.

    I'd like to invite you all to join, and ask that you please keep in mind that we are all writers striving to be respectful of POC, LGBTQ, and gender issues. We need a full range of opinions to hit our goals of crafting stories and characters who will represent people from all backgrounds, and the main purpose of this group is to provide support for writers wishing to approach these issues with respect and care. As with any sort of critique group, disrespect to members will be mediated and dealt with swiftly. We want to keep discussions open and friendly, to better serve our community as a whole. All of us matter, and all of our writing matters. It's in understanding, that we can break down the barriers that discourage us from trying to be more sensitive and informed individuals.

    When you join, I'll send you a welcome email and put you onto a group email list. When a writer has material they'd like to share with the group, we'll work out method to send out a notice to group members, briefly describing the work and what the author's questions are. Membership is completely voluntary, and you don't have to read anything you don't want to. When a writer submits a piece for critique, I'd like to take a page out of Scribophile's book, and ask that a minimum of three people read the material. That way, the writer gets a few opinions on the work, so hopefully a variety of opinions. Though we'll have to trade manuscripts and chapters privately, I hope discussions can come back to the group list, or in some cases, this forum, so we can provide the best service to our writers.

    For right now, not knowing how much interest there will be, it's hard to set up a system for communication, but I'd like to discuss that as a group once we have four or five members who are really on board for this. I'm open to any and all suggestions, because this is only a concept for something I'd like to see, but it'll take a group of dedicated writers to make it great.

    I'm really excited about this, and I hope it's a benefit to us all, as a friendly community based on sharing and honesty, and to us all as individual writers, who work hard and shed a lot of sweat and tears as we lovingly craft our stories.

    I'd also like to hear from anyone interested in helping manage the group, because I think we need at least a couple individuals to keep it running smoothly and to represent not only the readers of fiction that features diversity, but to help with any future mediation if there arises a problem between members. Of course, I don't anticipate any problems, but past experience taught me to at least be prepared.

    Thank you for all your support, MS members!

    Gemeinsam werden wir entweder einen Weg finden, oder wir machen ein--Together, we will either find a way, or we will make one.
     
    Ireth and Tom like this.
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,094
    1,468
    313
    I'm down for this. Don't think I could moderate, but I'll definitely participate. ^^
     
  3. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,706
    1,134
    163
    Sure, I'm in! This sounds like it's going to be a really cool group to participate in.
     
  4. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    1,159
    176
    63
    Like I said in t'other thread, I'm in. I'll pm you sometime tomorrow with my email address. I'm all for diversity, but still need to educate myself. There's a lot I don't get yet, ever evolving terminology being one of them I suppose.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  5. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,706
    1,134
    163
    Oh my god, I know. I identify as genderfluid, but recently I've been seeing more people calling it genderflux instead, and I'm kind of worried that the terminology is changing on me! :eek:
     
  6. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    1,159
    176
    63
    Stick to your guns. That's what I say. Then again I really don't listen to other people's labels for my life :)
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    I'm hopelessly confused by some of the words people are using, and maybe I'm too embarrassed to just up and ask to make sure I'm on the right page? I'm glad to have an opportunity to discuss things here, so at least when next I engage a person in the real world in the kind of conversation I had last night, I will be speaking more the same language as her.

    Yeah, and please be sure to get me an email address you specifically want to use for this group (because group emails may display your real name or something when you want to remain more anonymous). I've traded with a lot of folks on this site, and I may very well have AN email address for you, but whether it's the one you want used or not...well that's up to you. :)

    I'm planning to send out a welcome email to each individual address, just to make sure we're not ending up in spam folders for each other, and then I'll begin an email conversation with the group, sort of asking where we'd like to begin a conversation and what subjects members would like to see covered, and it looks like word definitions might be a great place!

    I'd like to keep each conversation separate in emails with REPLY ALLS, because it can get confusing when people are all talking about something on an original email titled, "Hello!"

    I expect there will be some amount of private discussion between members, but I'm hoping we can all talk as much as possible and realistic, because you never know what will benefit someone other than you.

    Also, I want to reiterate that this is a group open to writers who want to share, but also MS members who are either members of a diverse group, or those who just want to read more about it. So, we'll be responsible for policing ourselves, and any breach in trust or privacy needs to be indicated to the managers ASAP, because i above all, want to keep this a safe group. Our identities in the real world may be private, or our work too personal to want to discuss publicly. But I want to allow people to share it here if they wish, whether they ever plan to publish or not.

    Also, I'd like to say that I mentioned having three readers read every work. I guess I said that because Scribophile has a great system for making sure folks get at least a few crits. My secondary goal would be to ensure a writer is always in control of their own work. For example:

    Caged Maiden: (to group) "I have a story about a gay POC airship captain's crew, and I'd like to know whether the portrayals in my first chapter raise any potential red flags before I continue writing on the path I began. I'm looking for feedback regarding the positive portrayals of race and sexuality in this chapter. The POV MC is a POC young woman mechanic, who is on her first trip away from her parents, and her platonic relationships with the members of this crew. About 3600 words."

    Member Helpful: (in private email to Caged Maiden) "I'd like to read it. I'm writing a similar story, and would be happy to give you feedback."

    CreepyLurker: (in private email to Caged Maiden) "I've always liked Steampunk, I'll read it. But I'm not sure I'd like to read the POV of a woman, unless she's a lesbian. Because that's really hot."

    Caged Maiden: (to Member Helpful) "Thank you so much! I would really appreciate any feedback you can give on the subjects I mentioned, or anything else you see. It's a rough draft, so I'm only doing big concept work right now, but I want to make sure my characters feel authentic and don't raise any concerns right off the bat. Can't wait to read yours if you share in the future!"

    Caged Maiden: (to CreepyLurker) "Thanks so much for your offer, but I got a lot of responses to this post, and I've already got three members looking it over."

    See how much easier that is if the writer is in control of who gets to give them opinions? I mean, there are just some opinions we can tell up front that we don't want. I want to make sure everyone feels comfortable with how their work is shared, and in who sees it and gives feedback. Open discussions are by their very nature less personal, but that's public, so it'll be easier for moderating.

    Maybe someone IS writing erotica and wants to market their story as such to the group, but it should be the writer's decision whether they want to send it to any given person, because let's be honest, most folks on this site are honest and we've known each other for years, but you never know. I want writers in control. Period.

    I hope everyone gets from this group what they need, whether they're writing erotica, or high fantasy, or urban fantasy that deals specifically with real-world issues. None of us deserves to feel patronized or uncomfortable about sharing.
     
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,610
    1,881
    163
    OMG Caged Maiden that made me laugh. CreepyLurker! lol. Hilarious.
     
  9. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,610
    1,881
    163
    PS, thanks for doing this CM!
     
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,094
    1,468
    313
    One thing I'm hoping to see in this discussion is focus on disabled characters as well as LGBTQ+ and POC. More than one of my characters are physically disabled in some way: a couple are deaf, some are blind or partly so, one loses a hand partway through his story, and another has a clubfoot. (Also, if fanfics [like the self-insert mentioned here] are up for discussion too, some advice on portraying autism effectively would be excellent as well. It's hard to know if I'm painting my own disorder in a good light, partly because I have to look through it myself to see my work objectively.)
     
    Tom, TheCatholicCrow and Noma Galway like this.
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    Absolutely add that to the list, Ireth. I'm not excluding anyone or any subject. I think it all matters, and since the goal is for us to read with sympathetic eyes to all people who might feel marginalized, it totally fits. Thanks for adding that!
     
  12. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,335
    2,352
    313
    I'm interested too.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  13. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,706
    1,134
    163
    I think it would be interesting to have some discussions on how our identities influence our writing--I know a few of us are queer, neuroatypical, etc. Does that effect how we write? What we write? Seeing the answers to those questions would be cool.
     
    Ireth and Noma Galway like this.
  14. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    1,072
    242
    63
    I'd be happy to join the party as long as it doesn't devolve into political arguments and the clashing of personal beliefs.
     
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    @ Miskatonic, I hope you read my goal for this group. If you feel that's the kind of group you want to join, then please feel free to send me a PM. This is a crit group for those people who are concerned with writing positive portrayals of diverse characters (race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.). No one will be required to share their own work, or read anything that makes them uncomfortable, or share their work with anyone they don't want to share with. Our goal is understanding all aspects of writing diverse characters. I cannot ensure that no one will be offended by a comment, but I guarantee that my goal, and the goal of my other moderator, is to make sure that conversations stay on track and friendly, even when there are opposing viewpoints. Membership in the group is voluntary, but it also must be earned, by maintaining civility and professionalism.

    I will not tolerate even the smallest amount of intentional hate. But I'm not going to kick someone out for misspeaking or accidentally using a word that might be considered offensive. We're here to better ourselves and our writing, to understand with more sympathy that we do now.

    Also, each conversation will be separate in emails, so we may have a conversation going about how food-descriptions for skin color are derogatory, and another conversation in another email about how bullying in school needs to be dealt with better. If you don't want to read about bullying in school because it doesn't affect you and doesn't have any bearing on your writing, you don't have to read that email or engage in the conversation. It's all voluntary.

    When a writer has a piece to share, same thing. If a writer says, "I have a short story 7k words, written in third person and use "they" as the adverb for the MC who is neither male nor female, and it's written in present tense..." You don't have to volunteer to read it, whether you hate present tense, or don't like the adverb usage, or don't feel you could add valuable feedback, or whatever. It's all voluntary. I do however, expect that we should shoot for having three readers offer to read and crit any given piece, just so the writer can get an idea of how different people respond to their portrayal of the diversity they're writing.

    So anyways, hope that clarifies some stuff.
     
    Tom likes this.
  16. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    HA! I wrote adverb instead of pronoun! Oh why can't I edit it after an hour?
     
  17. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    1,596
    1,010
    163
    I was feeling pretty hesitant about this, seeing how most of the conversations about diversity on this forum have ended up being far more frustrating than productive. But it sounds like you have a clear vision for the group, and a focus on positivity and open-mindedess, which makes it much more appealing. I'd be interested, if you'll have me.

    I'm wondering about the length of shared pieces, though? To be honest, 7k is about the upper end of what I'd be able to read and crit without taking forever on it.
     
  18. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,607
    1,497
    163
    @ Nimue, that's why the whole thing is voluntary. If someone posts a chapter that's 4k words, maybe we'll all want to read it if the subject appeals to us. it's up to each potential reader to email the writer and say they'd be happy to give feedback. Now, if two people really feel like they write in each other's style, and they want to trade 100k word manuscripts GREAT! but there is no limit on what we can trade, we're basically going to have to petition for critters in a way. I tried to make some examples earlier in this thread. Also, if a writer posts a 15k word first four chapters and gets no one to bite, she may have to decide to break that up and find the part that's most important to her, so someone will read it. No one ever has to read anything they don't want to. It's all voluntary. however, my hope is that as we get to know each other, we don't only get feedback on our own work, we get to see how other people are exploring diversity, which will help open up conversations. It's all well and good to say, "Let's all show diversity in a positive way, " but as we've seen in my last few comments, I'm personally struggling to grasp some of the concepts, and until I gain a better understanding, I run the risk of inadvertently being negative.

    I don't know what to anticipate, as far as how much sharing there will be, but I expect we'll have a few open conversations floating out there in email, and small segments of people's work will find their way into those conversations, because that's sort of how we do this on this forum, too.

    Glad to have you on board!
     
Loading...

Share This Page