As black folks, carry untold stories within us. We are a nation of people with words waiting to be spoken. More of us are sharing our experiences, perspectives, and aspirations each day. Yet, our stories are often pegged as “niche” and unmarketable to the general public. Which is false. Young black characters like Moon Girl, Shuri, and Miles Morales are huge hits, they prove that people WANT diversity. Do not allow the domination of white-authored books on the shelves to discourage you from producing your own works. If you have a story to tell here are some tips to get your story out there.
DON’T Be An “Under” Writer
Wonderful books have fallen short because the author didn’t choose the appropriate writing level for their story. If you’re composing a middle-grade story (designed for ages 10-13), then the story needs to match the reading and comprehension level for that age group. In particular, many young adult books fail because they are written at a comprehension level that is more appropriate for middle schoolers. Finding the line between “under” writing and “over” writing only comes with practice, but it is a critical element in making sure the target audience will enjoy your story. Trust your readers to handle complex language; too often, youth are treated as if they can’t handle complex writing. As a result, many YA books are too simplistic for youth to relate to.
You Don’t Have To Talk About Race
Many of the stories about black lives are dominated by the discussion of race. Don’t get me wrong—that conversation needs to happen often, however, it cannot be the only time we talk about black people. Black individuals are so much more than racially oppressed and we cannot allow discourse about us to always be dominated by tales of our suffering. As a writer, don’t feel pressured to talk about race in your work if you don’t want to. Just know you have more to offer the world than the suffering.
Join A Club For Black Writers
Writers are notoriously solitary. We spend much of our own time buried in the folds of our own minds. Which leads to less of an opportunity for growth in our writing, because we aren’t sharing our work with peers and getting feedback. Search your community for local groups of black writers and if you can’t find one—start one. Review one another’s work, practice writing exercises, and challenge each other in ways no one else will.
Overall, the best way to improve your writing is by writing! Write frequently, write honestly, and take advantage of Stream of Consciousness writing. You just might surprise yourself. Great stories are often the product of meticulous planning, but, sometimes, valuable content comes when we relax and let go.
By Jesse E
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