Non-Traditional Characters

This is one of my “write outside your comfort zone” posts. Non-traditional characters is my own term when I refer to non-white characters. This is not about any social issues or working with my own personal tangent of motives. No. This topic comes from an open need for many different races in the world who do not have access to mainstream or highly available books within their races / cultures.

I saw a post on twitter of an article of how only a small number of books have the lead character to be people of color, Asian, Hispanic, or fill-in-the-blank. Even less books are written by the same groups. I’ve noticed that a lot of agencies are requesting books of the minorities and of the LGBTQ communities.

I’ll go a step further and include characters with disabilities: whether they are physically hindered, emotionally, or mentally. I, myself, am dyslexic. And as a writer, it’s a pain to deal with and I’m sure you, the reader, have noticed several grammar errors that I’ve failed to find.

When writing of different cultures, races, LGBTQ, or disabilities that you are not familiar with, you need to do a LOT of research. You need to actually get to know the culture/people. Cook the food, listen to the music, go to parades, volunteer at camps for special needs, watch you tube videos, find newspapers/articles, interview people, and so forth.

A couple of weeks ago I posted some links to Tedtalks videos. I highly encourage you to watch the last one listed “The Danger of a Single Story”. Chimamanda Adichie is from Africa and she spoke of how her culture has been misrepresented. The best part of the video was when she spoke of her roommate in college who wanted to listen to music from Adichie’s home culture and that the roommate was disappointed when Adichie pulled out a Mariah Carey cd.

I’m not saying you need to stop what you are doing and change everything you write just to include a larger diversified group, but I am saying that you need to consider it. This is a chance for you to grow as a writer and as an individual. Learn and expand your understanding. We are all human. Don’t limit yourself and each other. Your characters are not going to fit inside a neatly wrapped box. We all have different traits that make us unique individuals, so should your characters.

A couple of examples that were successful:

Stephanie Myers with the Twilight Saga brought out the Quileute Nation on the La Push reservation. Jacob Black was one of the main characters was Native American. And then Jacob’s father, Billy, was wheelchair bound. Billy Black was a strong sub character who played several important roles throughout the series. His disabilities did not limit his character, nor should they.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Percy Jackson is the main character who has dyslexia, but with a plot twist it’s because he can read/translate Greek. Riordan said that he wrote the character because his own son was dyslexic and wanted a character that could relate to his son.

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge #17

This is another weekend I want you to have fun.

This is what you need:

  • 5 – Adjectives
  • 6 – Plural Nouns
  • 1 – Verb Ending in “ing”
  • 1 – “Person in Room”
  • 1 – Place
  • 1 – Celebrity
  • 2 – Nouns

Post in the comment section your words in order as it appears on the mad libs



What is Your Level of Readability?

write2A few times I’ve heard and read about writers needing to be cautious of their stories “voice” sounding age / education level appropriate of the characters involved. Such as if the story is middle school age children, than the characters should not sound as if they have doctorate degrees in science.

But I’ll take this one step further – your writing in general needs to be readable. You need to keep in mind the age group that you are writing, but need to remember that not all adults have higher levels of education.

For example: if you write a romance novel centering around the medical industry and you try to relate by using medical codes and large terms – you are limiting your audience. Sure, it may sound authentic, but it will discourage more readers who generally will not know or understand the terminology.

I believe I once read that newspapers and the press will write their articles in sixth grade level readability (I can’t find the source now) – which is the level of language most people converse in.  Having a lower level of readability allows the story to expand over a wider audience. However, if you are writing that medical romance – writing it with the same level of grade as Dr. Seuss book would be a little off-putting to adults.

What do I mean by grade levels? The reliable sources for testing writing readability (Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, SMOG Index, and Coleman-Liau Index) typically goes by the American school grade level. Though, each will tests and search for different words and structure of their own scales, leaving the same material to fall under several different grade levels.

My suggestion to you is try writing your stories a grade or two below what your targeted audience is. Example: If it is for middle school age – typically fifth to eight grades than write third to sixth grade level. Just because kids are in the age range does not mean they have retain every single word from their vocabulary tests. Same way with the young adult group – aim for the middle school age range of writing, and so forth with other targeted ages.

Free web links to test your readability:

L. R. Mauck


Writer’s Research

I’ve come to realize that writers are perfectionist because it is demanded of them, physically or metaphorically. So, to write an accurate book that won’t leave the readers questioning your story you need to do research. Researching can fall under many, if not all, genres.

For example, you may need know more about a specific location, historical information, even a trade. Even in fantasy’s, you may need to research different mythical creatures, legends, and warfare.

Where to find your research:

  • Google / internet
    • Search engine – ask very particular questions and click on more than one site.
    • Wikipedia – though, I suggest to click on the source websites near the bottom
    • Check out other blogs. They can offer plenty of insight
    • Youtube
      • view events
      • search for local people to get a feel for their accents and terminology
    • If it is a location – check out that locations webpages
  • Books
    • Go to libraries or book stores – sometimes you don’t know what to search for until you see it
    • Amazon
  • Talking / interviews
    • If it is trade – call up or visit someone in the field
    • Ask others for their opinions or what they would do in a certain situations
  • Travel
    • If the location is near you or a similar event, go and experience it for yourself.
      • If it’s a historical novel – check out Renaissance Fair
  • Personal
    • Sometimes in order to get an accurate detail of knowledge, you need first-hand experience.
      • This can be mentally reliving a close ones death – writing down what you though, felt, and experienced. Or remembering the first time you kiss your significant other.
      • To get a feel of a historical fiction, I sat down at my antique writer’s desk, lit some candles and then used actual parchment, ink, and a quill to write what it felt like to be writing that situation.

I wish you luck in your writing. Keep learning, keep writing.

L. R. Mauck


Weekend Challenge #16

Picture writing prompt: goblet



Use this goblet as an idea for a plot key in a story.


  • Fantasy – this is the goblet that anything poured within it whether wine or water, will allow the drinker a window into their future
  • Romance – this goblet was at an antique store that a woman really wanted it for her museum but the male owner couldn’t part with it because it had been in his family for centuries.
  • Historical – this is the goblet that one of King Author’s knights left behind at the round table.
  • Murder/Mystery – this is the goblet that held the poison that killed the unsuspecting victim.

Have fun with it and get creative.

L. R. Mauck


Closing Story Plot Holes

This post is a no-brainer in that the author understands that it is important to close plot holes in the story. However, sometimes we forget about the small tangents of different subplots that we weave that lie under the main focus of the plot. A single story can be written in the matter of days or years. We can’t always remember the subplots that are written. Those subplots need to be closed as well. That is unless it is a series and those subplots lead to a larger picture and tie together – then those subplots must be closed at the last book.

Ways to remember subplots:

  • Outlines – detail your plot and subplots so that they can all build to the climax and completion of the story. If your story takes a different route from your outline, make a new outline that still includes the subplots you’ve already wrote.
  • I understand outlines don’t always work – so make posts-it notes to remember.
  • When you are writing, think through as to why the tangent is important – does it feed to the main plot? If not, don’t include it. Remember, your story should keep pushing towards the climax of the plot.
  • Plot worksheets and books are available to help focus your story.
  • In your revision – highlight &/or bold when you see a tangent that you don’t remember covering in your plot closure.
  • Simple things that have been mentioned previously in stories that cause the reader to use their common sense or logic and be like “why didn’t the main character just do this?” Example: Gandolf used the eagles several times to get around Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. Why didn’t he just use the eagles to take the ring to be destroyed in the volcano? Or in the first book of Harry Potter when there’s no place more secure than Hogwarts, but yet three eleven year olds were able to get through an obstacle course with their limited knowledge (1st year level of learning), skill, and power for Harry to get the stone and face Voldemort/Quirrell. I don’t mean to discredit either of the brilliant authors, but don’t leave your readers questioning the plot. Give a reason as to why it must happen the way it’s written.

Don’t leave the reader wondering about what happen to so and so or where something is because it wasn’t addressed in your book. I do understand that as individuals in the real world, we can’t know everything that happens to everyone on a daily bases, but if it was important to your character’s journey, then the character needs that closure as well as the reader.

L. R. Mauck

My Ramblings

Update on my novel – I have a few queries  send out currently. I need to submit more and will try to this week. However, I’m still editing while going through the book again. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to declare it prefect, but that’s just me. I always find flaws in my work regardless of it being a craft, painting, or my writing.

On a positive note: a 13 year old girl I know, told me she loved the book so far. She started reading it back in December when she was 12 and loved it then, but her family moved and she lost the file. She asked for a new copy. I waited until I finished another revision on it before emailing it to her a week and a half ago. She told me twice since then that she really loves it and as of yesterday, she’s nearly finished already. She is the youngest of the five people who have read it and liked it. That’s a nice confidence boost.

The story idea I wrote about on Wednesday last week, I’m still piecing that together. I have the character’s name, some background information, plot idea and two big twists to the story thought out, but for some reason a lovely writers block has formed preventing me from actually starting the book. I’ll get there. Just like with any of my writer blocks, I’ve got to think it through more and force myself to write through it. I know that once I get started officially (rather than just jotting down notes), it’ll go smoothly.

I hope everyone else has made progress on your writings this past weekend. Remember to keep writing. That is the only way you will better your craft and explore and push your boundaries.

L. R. Mauck