Diversity FAQs for the Confused

What is diversity?

In short, diversity means a variety of different people. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Different genders (we see so many female MCs)
  • Different races (that means white, too. A story with an all-black cast isn’t diverse)
  • Different ethnicities
  • Different nationalities (Yep, white people from different countries)
  • Disabled characters
  • Different personalities (Who wants all of their characters acting the same?)
  • Different social classes
  • LGBTQ and straight characters
  • Different religions and atheism/agnosticism
  • Disabled characters
  • Different ages
  • Characters with mental health problems
  • Characters without mental health problems and disabilities.

There are many different types of diversity. I’m sure you can add to the list.

Does a story need ALL the diversity to be "diverse"?

Nope! No one expects you to cram in all different types of diversity and still have a good story. Sometimes you might not have room for some types of diversity in your story (say if it’s set in a same-sex school) or you just aren’t comfortable representing a certain type of diversity yet. Fair enough! I haven’t crammed in every single type of diversity in my story and I never will.

This isn’t some checklist. More like a guideline.

Do I need diversity in my story?

The short answer is no. You don’t need diversity in your story.

The long answer is: it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you want an inclusive story that makes everyone feel represented, you’re gonna need diversity to do that.

So if I don't need diversity, why do people complain?

People complain when a story doesn’t have what they want to see. In today’s day and age, people are keen to see diversity and they don’t believe that changing a character’s age, gender, sexuality or race should change the story massively. That’s fair enough. It doesn’t have to affect the quality of your story if you don’t focus too hard on it.

After all, stereotypes aren’t true of every single member of a group. If you think that a certain type of diversity wouldn’t work with your plot, 9 times out of 10 you’re thinking of stereotypes.

If you think it won’t suit the setting, that makes complete sense and no one should force you to add that diversity to your story. However, there are many other types of diversity that probably would fit the setting better. Also, if you’re choosing settings just so you can avoid some types of diversity, there might be an underlying issue here.

It’s their free speech to complain about your story and ask for diversity, and it’s your freedom to turn them down.

Should I add diversity into my story?

As much as many people would love to, no one on the forums can control whether you put diversity in your story or not. No one can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do with your stories as long as you’re sticking to the guidelines. I’m not gonna tell you anything! I’m not your mother. It’s up to you if you decide whether you put diversity in your story.

Why do people ask for diversity?

You may have noticed that the majority of MCs in popular stories are white, able-bodied, cisgender women. There is nothing wrong with this kind of MC, but some people want to see other MCs as well as the ones we currently have. This is especially true of Episode Featured Stories. They should be setting the standards!

Does Episode have to add in diversity?

Of course not! We aren’t in charge of Episode. It would be a good business move in an app that markets itself on the ability to customise and choose your story, though. Diversity sells. Any company not taking advantage of that is silly.

There’s a reason why many POC turn to community stories: Episode featured stories have sucked at diversity until recently. Some community stories can offer really good diversity and it seems absolutely effortless. I love that kind of diversity and so do many people.

We are Episode’s customers, consumers and creators. If we, as a whole, aren’t happy, they’re going to lose money. So, it would be crazy for them to not listen to the large group of people saying they want different peoples represented in stories.

Does the diversity need to make a point?

No. You don’t need to add in diverse characters to make some kind of political point. In fact, the best diverse characters are the ones where they aren’t defined by the fact that they are in a minority group. You can add diversity in simply because the people you’re representing exist and you want to create an authentic story.

If a story has a trans character, it doesn’t need to be making a point about trans rights. They can just be trans and that’s more than fine. The same with a black character, a gay character, a disabled character and the list goes on.

Of course, their position in a minority group will affect them from time to time, but if that’s all they are, then you’ve got a bad character on your hands.

Remember that white isn’t a default state. It’s not like you add features onto a white character to make them diverse. So, if having your character be white doesn’t need to make a point to be there, why does it have to be that way for any other group? That makes it seem like minority people aren’t people.

Will people be angry with me?

Yes. It doesn’t matter if you add diversity or not, people will be angry with you. Here are a few reasons why:

  • They don’t like that all of your characters are basically the same
  • They don’t like that you have made your characters diverse
  • They think you haven’t added enough diversity
  • They have a problem with the fact that your characters feel like box ticks
  • They think you’ve added too much diversity
  • They don’t know why they’re angry. They just are

These are all reasons that crop up, along with many others. You can see how ridiculous some of them are (like the final one), but they do exist and these are things we have to cope with as authors. Diversity isn’t going to please everyone.

So why should I add diversity?

Why would you want all of your characters to look the same, be from the same social class, like the same people, be into the same stuff, and basically act like clones of each other with different hair and noses? How boring! Who doesn’t want to see a little variety in their stories? It’s realistic.

Again, white isn’t a default state. Characters shouldn’t have a race, gender or sexuality before you invent them. If you immediately think “white” when you come up with a new character, maybe you’re stuck in a rut. There is nothing wrong with white characters, but why are your characters all the same? Diversity is realistic and natural. Why not represent the truth?

You could also appeal to a whole new group of people. Diversity sells. People want to see new protagonists. Capitalise on that if you’re smart!

How can I do it right?

Ask questions! I’ll always be happy to answer them if you DM me. It might take some time, though. It doesn’t have to be as rigid as you think. Just treat them the same way as you would any other character and that should help.

Does diversity have anything to do with story quality?

Directly-speaking, it doesn’t. Adding diversity into your story doesn’t make it a good story. Not adding diversity into your story doesn’t make it a bad story. The Lord of the Rings are fantastic books even though there’s little diversity (there are barely even any women in it).

However, there is correlation (not causation): getting characters from diverse backgrounds right takes good characterisation skills. Good characterisation skills are one of the most important qualities for a good story.

So, while diversity doesn’t make your story good, only a good writer can do diversity well.


If anyone is interested in learning more about writing about minorities and creative diverse casts, check out my blog post!


Remember that white characters are part of diversity if they aren’t the only type of character in a story. In an all-black cast, white people would be the diversity. Like Black Panther! On its own, Black Panther wasn’t particularly diverse. Most of the characters were straight, black and young. However, if you look at the whole MCU, it added a lot of great diversity.

If you think of any other questions you want me to answer, please list them below!

I seriously hope this doesn’t devolve into an argument!

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:clap:t4:

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There’s also a thread where you can ask questions on to help:

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Very well put. :clap:

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I’m glad it makes sense. Hopefully people will understand

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:joy: I’m laughing, but it’s true

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I agree :joy: you really can’t please everyone.

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There are way too many people like this on the forums. I can’t handle it :joy:

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author puts diversity

Picky reader: I hate your story sksksksk it’s got too much diversity and it sucks and I’m mad at you just cuz

author removes diversity

Same picky reader: I still hate your story so much cuz it’s got no diversity and it’s terrible

author puts a perfect balance

Same picky reader: I don’t know what, but something’s off about that! I still hate your story!

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I would have told the picky reader to go somewhere else if he/she doesn’t like it. it’s not like my story is the only story in the world. :woman_shrugging:

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It’s always those few people that do that. :roll_eyes: So annoying

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I would like to have some more disabled characters in stories I’m thinking about one right now but I need to find some more information!

Episode isn’t great for that. They don’t really help us represent physical disabilities at the moment: no wheelchairs or crutches or prosthetics.

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yeah it’s really hard to do it I think the most you can do is give a character a wheelchair overlay or put the character in bed. they should do something about this to make it easier :sweat:

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And you need the overlay in separate parts if you don’t want it to look stupid – since there needs to be an arm in front of the character!

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And there aren’t enough sitting animations to make it work well

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awesome. this helped me alot with my stories.

I’m glad it helped! I might add some more questions soon, but at the moment, I’m thinking of adding a how to guide to my blog :wink:

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Bump!

Hi, so I was thinking, what else can I include to make my stories even more diverse?