5 Simple Rules for Writing YA For People of Color (Part 2) + GIVEAWAY!

Morning again, Muggles!

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s post, which you can read here if you missed it. L.M. Davis has graciously decided to give her time and words to this humble blog site, and share with us all 5 Simple Rules for Writing YA for People of Color. The previous post listed Rule One:

Understand that people of color are not a monolith.

and Rule Two:

Young people of color, like most people, want to be able to see themselves in some (not necessarily all) of the books that they read.

Today, we will cover Rules Three through Five. I hope you all are enjoying the series so far! And be sure to like the posts and leave comments on this post and over at L.M.’s Blog!

Here we go:

3. Understand that people of color are not a monolith.  They read all kinds of books.  Yes, some young people of color love realistic fiction set in places that they recognize and filled with characters that are going through similar things.  On the other hand, there are others who want to escape the recognizable world all together.  They want to read about witches or mermaids or aliens.  Some want to read about future dystopias, angels, and demons.  Some want to read about kid detectives and girl geniuses.  The sky is the limit.  (See number 1 for what this means for you as an author.)

Case in point:  I have a cousin who is an avid reader and entering his teens.  This kid reads a little bit of everything: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Kane Chronicles, Huckleberry Finn, The Dark is Rising.  And he has a dozen friends whose interests are just as diverse.  His tastes are so varied that I can’t wait to talk to him about what he’s reading now.  I started writing my Shifters Novel series because I wanted to write books for him where he could see a character that looked like him in a fantasy book (which is one of his favorite genres).  Don’t believe the hype that says that people of color only read one type of book or relate to one type of story.  People of color read all types of things.

4. Don’t feel compelled to write the book that will save the world. This rule comes less from any impulse that I have as an author and more from the expectations that I have encountered in my authorly travels.  It’s true: people of color face a variety of unique social ills and most of our traditions (if you will allow me to be literary for a moment) have a long history of producing “uplift” fiction that depicts our communities through only the most positive lens, but the times—they are a-changing (have changed a long time ago, if you want to get technical).  If you set out to write the book that you think will address all the social ills and obstacles that young people of color must face and overcome you will probably end up with something that comes across more like a sermon than a work of fiction.

In my series, I am not particularly concerned with “uplifting” a particular community while demonizing another.   Good comes in all shades in Nate and Larissa’s world and so does bad (kind of like the real world).   A close reader will see that on multiple levels, the worse threat that the twins face comes from within their community and not from outside.  Am I trying to convey a moral here, not really.  Any good book is going to have a lot of layers and maybe even some lessons.  However, that’s not necessarily my central focus; I just want to tell the story.

Last but not least:

 5. Understand that people of color are not a monolith.  Get the point?

Of course, my rules are not law (at least not until I take over the world, which judging by today’s efforts, may take just a bit longer).  There are a lot of ways to write a book that will appeal to young people of color.  In the end, as with anything, the most important thing is to write your story and the audience will find you.  

L. M. Davis loves great storytelling. She needs nothing more than a good book and a comfy chair to be happy. She was born in the south, raised in the north, and has a few English degrees under her belt. She still hasn’t gotten her black cat, but she thinks about it every day. Her thoughts go something like this: “I really should get a cat.” For now, she contents herself with spoiling the pets of her friends and family. Posers is the second book in the Shifters Novel series.

Visit her Website, Follow her on Twitter, and check out her Amazon Author Page. Also, Check out the Facebook page for Interlopers, Friend her and review her books on Goodreads, and, again, show her some love on her blog!

I want to extend my immense and sincere thanks to L.M. for agreeing to share her thoughts and insights of her process with us. She wants to thank you too, in the form of some sweet, sweet merchandise. That’s right, we’re doing a giveaway! Check it out below!

Need the perfect stocking stuffer?

Enter the Shifters Nation Holiday Swag Giveaway! (Click Here)*

*Four ways to enter:  Leave a comment; like the post, follow L.M. on Twitter @ShiftersNovels, and Tweet the blog.  Each thing gives you one entry and contest ends 12/16 at midnight, so that the winner will receive prize by Christmas.

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3 thoughts on “5 Simple Rules for Writing YA For People of Color (Part 2) + GIVEAWAY!

  1. Just like a good teacher, recapping the previous lessons. I’m kind of like a mean teacher: what, you didn’t read it, well work on that.

    Thanks again Troy. It’s been a blast!

  2. LOL you assume the best about my intentions, I just want people to revisit the first post. And all thanks to you, I’ve had a great time reading your thoughts and I’m definitely applying your rules to my work, especially the part about how being a member of a particular community not absolving you from meaningful thought about how to portray that community. I think that (well, know, in my case) that I just take my run with blackness and maleness as the standard for writing black males, and that can lead me down a shaky, painful path.

    Great, great post. Thanks again!

  3. Pingback: Don’t Forget About the 5 Simple Rules GIVEAWAY « The semi-mad ramblings of a young black writer

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