One Writer’s Journey

November 2, 2016

Character Diversity: Don’t Create a Character Checklist

Ithe_hammer_of_thor‘m almost finished with Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of Thor, the second book in the Magnus Chase series.  This book was just what I needed.  I’m really appreciating Riordan’s relentlessly cheeky sense of humor.  That said, I had reservations early in the book.

The two main characters in the book are Magnus Chase, formerly homeless hero, and Sam, a Muslim Valkyrie.  For some reason, that character didn’t bother me.  Like Magnus Chase, she is the child of a Norse god but unlike Chase Sam does not consider her father a god.  He may be really powerful, but as far as Sam is concerned there is only one God.

Both of these characters are from book #1 in the series but when Riordan introduced a new character, I felt like he might have a checklist going.  Person of Color, preferably Muslim — Check/Sam.  LGBQT or Gender Fluid character — Check/Alex.  Like Magnus, Alex is also a demigod but Alex is also transgender and gender fluid.  I briefly felt like Riordan was just trying too hard to hit all the diversity high points.

But I was so appreciating the humor that I kept going and I have to say that I’m glad I did.   Why?  Because I feel like I came to a hasty judgement.

In part, this is because I really like the character. Like my brother-in-law, Alex is a potter.  Alex is also more than a little cheeky with personality to spare.  Riordan didn’t just slap the label transgender on a character.  This is truly a part of who Alex is and that is reflected in choice of art form, tattoo/symbol and more.  It also explains the total melt down the character has upon becoming a resident of Valhalla.

When you create a “diverse” character, you have to make them completely 3 dimensional and believable.  You have to make whatever trait it is that makes them diverse truly a part of them.  In short, you have to make them a strong character just like you would with any other character in your story.

I’m guessing that Riordan didn’t need me to tell him that.



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