Developing an Appropriate Voice for Readers

Years ago, most nonfiction for teens and tweens in North America was written from the point of view of Caucasins. Times have really changed since then. We now live in a multicultural world that demands sensitivity to many points of view. North Americans are beginning to view their society as diverse, pluralistic, and fascinating. Kids and teens want more information about their neighbours who come from or live in a different culture from their own. Publishers usually demand inclusion and tolerance and are wary of cultural appropriation. There is more awareness today than in previous years that writers may not be able to adequately portray a culture different from their own. This means that the writer needs to research this background information very carefully so that his characters will be believable. This is especially the case with characters from different cultures. Cultural differences are usually wider than racial differences, but race and culture also can be inseparable in one person. Be sensitive to truths about your characters and make sure that someone from that culture ,who is intimate with that culture, reads your work to see if it is accurate. As a writer for teens and tweens, it is essential for you to recognize the real, authentic values of the culture that you are trying to portray in your writing. Make sure that you don’t set stringent prohibitions against who can write for whom. As a writer, you should also be acutely aware of the authenticity of your point of view while writing about other cultures. But balance that with not offending anyone or being rude in your writing. Try and invite the reader into your writing. As a writer, I feel my job is not to offend the reader but to expand and stretch my reader. And I do that in the kindest way possible. When you state your message kindly and compassionately, you will draw your readers in and you will make them feel better as a result of reading your book. And that is sure one way of inviting a lot of readers to read your books. ~ Irene