by Ethan Cohen
These are some follies of myself and other writers who have tried incorrectly to write justly and politically liberally.
1. Gender neutral writing.
At first glance it would appear that writing characters without genders would be a safeguard against inequality, misogyny, and heteronormativity– if there are no divisions, how can one be higher than another? But in reality this is more like ‘passing the buck’– it may not move anything backward (assuming that the readers do not apply their imagined genders), but it does not move anything forward. It is more creative and smart to consider what it would mean if certain characters were certain genders, to truly digest this, and to write accordingly.
2. Writing minority protagonists.
The concept of ‘write what you know’ still generally holds here. If you are a white author, giving ‘stage time’ to a non-white protagonist means nothing unless their circumstances are as well-drawn as though they had been written by a member of the other race. Otherwise, the other race continues to operate under the assumptions of white authors.
Making social issues the main plot of the book may be easy, but it makes the reader highly aware of the singular goal of the story. The reader will be more acutely affected by a relatively unrelated story with an underlying line of social issues, working with and against characters constantly.
**"Credentials" for this blog are based upon the author's recent experiene with the writing and production of the play God Forbid, performed in late July 2014 as part of the "New Artists Festival: A Family Affair" at the 13th St. Repertory Theatre in the Village.
Black Lotus by Lita Lepie
"Possibly one of the most artful colloquial narratives of the past decade."
- E. Cohen
"My only criticism is that it wasn’t long enough..."
"...film noir in a book..."
"Awareness of race, gender and sexual orientation shades [Black Lotus] with great depth..."