"Never forget that you are the protagonist of your own story

and the antagonist of someone else’s!

And a possible love interest in some other peoples!"

If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

Everything you do is research. Washing the dishes, going to a party, watching Adventure Time--research. 

Make as many mistakes as you can. Your characters will thank you.

Break every rule of writing.
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Featured work.

Yuffie's Writing How-To's

Social data: 2.1M reads. 13.9K votes. 3.7K comments.

Description: A story isn't just a bunch of words slapped onto a page. It's a living, breathing manifestation of your imagination. This guide explores aspects most guides don't touch on such as memorable protagonists, world building, character psychology, and bac...

#1 in Non-Fiction #10 in Random

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And don't be racist or hateful about the "ethnic" features, if you do choose to describe them. I hope that goes without saying. :) Treat everyone respectfully. So actually, try to stay away from descriptions of facial features such as the size/shape of their nose, lips, eyes, etc. Instead, talk about things like facial piercings, shaved heads, etc. That's when things might be interpreted as racist. For example, in my story VENGEANCE, the protagonist is from a country where everyone is dark-skinned and has black hair. A new recruit to the army is from a different country and different race, and he's pale-skinned with blond hair and thin eyes. Since those are the features most strikingly different from her race, she distinguishes him by his hair color. Another character is the same race as the protagonist, but he wears his hair long and in a ponytail, so that's his defining trait when the protagonist is trying to find him in a crowd. OH so that's a good way to put it. If there's a big crowd of people and that character is lost among them, what trait of theirs sticks out the most and will help someone find them from far away? A piece of clothing like a neon-pink shirt? Maybe a hat with feathers on it. A different hair color or hairstyle. Maybe they're really tall or really short. Maybe they're skinnier than average or fatter. More muscular or just skin and bones. Or maybe it's the way they walk with a limp. Or they have a wheelchair or other assisstive device. A service dog. It likely won't be the shape of their nose or eyes. If you can find a trait that says novels about their personality, that's a plus!


I'm assuming your protagonist is American and wouldn't know these other races exist, let alone what they're called. So you wouldn't name them as Chinese, Laotian, etc. You would describe their physical appearance, probably with some of the more striking features such as skin color, height, clothes, hairstyles, jewelry or adornments, body shape/fatness/muscularity etc. But put a lot of emphasis on what those characters are DOING and how they're acting. Their culture, values, personality, etc. Pretend you're seeing a Chinese person for the first time. How would you describe them? In order to avoid racist descriptions, make sure the character is doing something, so the protagonist can focus more on their actions rather than their appearance. Another thing to keep in mind: only describe their "ethnic" features (skin color, eye shape, lip size, face shape, hair texture) once--the first time the protagonist sees them. After that, all physical description should be focused on personality: Did they get in a fight and have a black eye? Maybe they found a hat they really liked in an American store and now they wear it all the time. Or they're trying to fix a hovercraft and get covered in grease. Maybe they're painting a portrait and got some paint on their cheek.


Also, I'm not white, but I still write white characters. And Black, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, half white/half Mexican, and Indian characters. Don't forget all my made-up races in my high fantasy novels. You going to tell me to stop and stick to writing characters of my own race, social class, age, family situation, and health? You going to tell me not to write my white, blind protagonist? Or my bi-sexual protagonist with a nefarious crook for a brother? How about my protagonist from the desert who's a goddess? The islander protagonist who grew up as a concubine? The ex-gangster going to Yale University? The 21 y/o struggling to raise his 5 y/o son? The rich Indian who got kidnapped by the 21 y/o struggling to raise his 5 y/o son? If writers should only write "what they know" then what the hell is all fiction ever?


That is absolutely incorrect. Good writers DO NOT write just what they know. Good writers write what they want to know. You will never grow as a writer if you stay in your little bubble of experiences. Your characters grow by getting shoved into new and uncomfortable/difficult situations, and so do writers. Did JK Rowling have to experience walking through Hogsmede and drinking butterbear in order to write it? Did she have to fight the Dark Lord in order to write it? Did Christopher Paolini have to fly on the back of a dragon in order to write Eragon? Did John Green have to have cancer in order to write characters with cancer? Did Alexandre Dumas have to be a musketeer in order to write The Three Musketeers? Did Suzanne Collins have to fight to the death in order to write The Hunger Games? Did Stan Lee have to gain spider powers in order to write Spiderman? Writers do not have to write what they know. Never believe anyone who tells you that, because it's WRONG. It's easier to write what you know, but you only grow as a writer if you're exploring and researching areas you know little to nothing about. Be open-minded to learning something new. Yeah, minorities want to be treated like everyone else. So why don't we get to be the protagonist like "everyone else"? If we got equal treatment, we'd get to the be the protagonist just as much as the healthy, cis-gendered, whites. Instead, most authors pretend the minorities don't exist at all. Can you truly say that's equal treatment? If background and sexuality don't mean much, then you could just as easily have a POC/disabled/LGBTQ character. If that's no different than a straight, healthy, white character, why do you only keep writing white characters?


Yup! Everything I talk about in this guide has exceptions. You just need proper justification behind your choice and you can do whatever the heck you want in fiction writing. There's actually a version of the Bechdel test for diversity as well, if you were interested. (ie. have a POC character who has a conversation with another POC about something other than a white person)