Naturally, I seized him with sharkly alacrity and walked around the office asking if he belonged to anyone.
Each person I asked called him by name, and then stared at me with a rather perplexed look.
I paid it no mind, perplexity follows me around like a hungry remora. I held the beast, and petted the fur. It was actually very soothing.
Finally, one of the minions took pity on me.
"Sharkforbrains, you're stroking that spider's butt," she said, and then dove into the supply closet and locked the door behind her.
What the everloving octopuzzle is this??
This is CLEARLY an octopus.
I am a shark. I know an octopus when I see it. Or when it approaches me with homicide on its mind.
This is not an octopus.
This is the spider from Harry Potter.
|Aragog. Not Octogog.|
The people here at New Leaf instantly knew Aragog because they're all Harry Potter fans, and they've seen the Harry Potter movies multiple times.
I've never seen a Harry Potter movie (oh wait, yes I have, but I don't remember much of it) and I when I see eight legs I think octopus not arachnid.
What does this mean for you? As a writer, you bring a certain amount of knowledge to your work. You know things and thus can't see that the spider you know is Aragog could be seen as an octopus by someone else.
The problem is when you invest all your characters with the same knowledge, cultural experience, and expectations that you have, you don't have diverse characters. Diversity is much more than skin color and religion or sexual preference. You don't create diversity by giving someone a different color or religion or sexual preference. You create diverse characters by showing the different ways they see and experience the world.
One of the games I like to play when I walk around New York City is wondering what person from another time would recognize or understand if they were walking with me. Someone from 1940 would certainly recognize a car. What about someone from 1740? Would they recognize what a bicycle is for? How to operate it? How about something simple like a whisk? A plastic spatula?
Freshen your eyes. What wouldn't you know if you'd never seen Harry Potter? For one thing, you'd know an octopus when you see it.
(contest results tomorrow. I was watching the Oscars, not reading the entries. Well...I was reading the entries, then realized I couldn't do both at the same time!)