Should Authors Write Characters Different From Themselves?

Should Authors Write Characters Different From Themselves

Discussions of diversity in literature often boil down to a version of this basic question: Should white authors write characters of color? Should cisgender authors write trans characters? Should abled people write characters with disabilities? Should heterosexuals write QUILTBAG characters? The list goes on.

Though framed as a yes or no question, the answer is complicated and complex. Yet it’s the same one for every permutation that gets asked. In this 3 and a half hour webinar, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will give you the answer.

When: April 21, 3PM – 6:30PM Eastern (Click to see when this happens in your time zone)

Where: Online via Zoom meeting

Price: $50

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Who Is This Class For?

The webinar is appropriate for all writers (fiction, plays, comics, screenplays, and games included) from all backgrounds and any skill level. You need an interest in writing, but you do not need to have published anything yet.

This online seminar is not only for white writers, or cis writers, or men, it is for any writer who wants to take steps toward writing more inclusive, representational fiction.


The webinar will take place in an online video seminar room. There will be four sections that will last around 45 minutes with a break in-between each. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions.


Zoom meetings software is compatible with standard screen readers and has several other accessibility features that make it possible for writers who are Blind or vision impaired to participate in the webinar. 

The webinar will be mostly lecture with some Q&A, and questions can be submitted via the meeting software chat function or via voice. 

We do not have live closed captioning for our webinars at this time. However, if you need a closed captioned video and/or transcript, we will provide that with the Video Only registration option (see below). Any writer who is unable to attend the live class due to this limitation on our part will get the opportunity to do a Q&A with Nisi and Tempest once they are able to access the video.

Video Only Registration

If you cannot attend the class during the live webinar, you can register to get a video recording of the class after the live webinar ends for $40. You won’t be able to participate in the Q&A session, you will get all the resources as well as the lectures. 

We will send the webinar video by April 30th. It will only contain the lectures and answers to questions — no attendee voices or images will appear.

To register for this, choose the Video Only option in the box below.

Financial Aid

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the seminar, we have Pay What You Can Afford enrollment. Under this plan you can pay any amount, but we do request that you pay at least $10. To register, please email with the amount that you can afford (you may also split this into two or more payments). 

If you do not have the financial means to take this webinar and feel that you will benefit from it, we encourage you to apply for a Sentient Squid Scholarship. We have a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who do not have the money at all to writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class. Please don’t hesitate to apply wherever you exist on that spectrum.

To apply, send an email to with the subject WtO April Webinar Applicant, and include in the body:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) essay on why you wish to take the seminar.

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific April 15. We will notify all applicants of their standing on April 23. If you have any questions, please use our contact form to ask.

Technical Requirements

Zoom video conferencing works on computers, tablets, and most smartphones. We suggest you access the live webinar via a computer for the best experience. Before enrolling in class, make sure your computer or mobile device is compatible with Zoom. If you want to test to be sure, load the app on your system and join this test meeting.

A webcam/video camera is not necessary for class because students won’t be on video. To take part in the Q&A a microphone is helpful, though not necessary. You can submit questions via text. Please make sure you have a headset, headphones, or earbuds as this helps ensure good audio quality for everyone.

Required Text

Before the seminar, please purchase:

Refund Policy

If you find that you need to drop the seminar, you may do so via Eventbrite.

If you drop by April 7, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by April 14, you will receive an 50% refund and a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other seminars at a discount.

If you drop after April 14 you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you will receive a video of the class.

Register Below

If the class sells out before you have a chance to register, there is a waiting list.