October 20th, 2009

On a Daily Basis

In a way, I'm thankful that I even have this problem, because at least it means I'm paying attention

Okay, so I've got this story. The story is original (as in, this isn't fanfic), has four characters in it--if you include the dead one--and it's less than 2500 words long.

Here's the problem: one of the characters is black. His being a person of colour is certainly not the problem, but what is the problem is that I have no idea how to let the audience know. I mention it near the end of the story, but I've just realized that not only does it a) come out of nowhere at that point, b) possibly sounds like I'm just throwing in his skin colour to be 'sensitive' (gag), but also c) is the only time I mention anyone's skin colour at all, aside from referring to another guy as 'pale'.

The reason for that is because the default in media is white and I've obviously been well indoctronated by it. If someone's name is neutral and their ethnicity isn't mentioned, I assume they're white too (and male), unfortunately. But one of these characters is a character of colour, and I'd really like the audience to know it.

What makes this ironic is that there's no 'reason' for this one charcter to be black, any more than there's a 'reason' for the other characters to be white. I'm not trying to make a statement or show anyone how awesomely inclusive I am; this is just how I imagined the guy from the beginning. But I know (well, I'm fairly certain) that if I don't say anything about his looks specifically, the readers will pretty much assume that he's caucasian.

I'm kind of stymied about this. I'm probably going to end up shoehorning in short-hand descriptions of everyone, but at the moment I can't see natural places to do that without messing up the flow of the narrative. But I also hate the idea of this one character being the only one I describe because that's not fair.

I would just like the readers to have a better sense of who this guy is, and that has to include what he looks like. Argh. Maybe my pants are showing just worrying about it.