How to Get Your Characters Right (Especially When They Aren't Like You)

Diana Pho explains the role of sensitivity readers and how to write a diverse cast of characters without completely screwing it up.

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read
Episode #743

In this interview, I talked with Diana M. Pho, a two-time Hugo nominated editor at Tor.com Publishing.

We talked about:

  • The concept of sensitivity readers and how using them isn't that different from what authors have been doing on their own for years.
  • How using a sensitivity reader can be more of a partnership than just a Band-Aid solution.
  • How to find a sensitivity reader.
  • When it's a good time to bring in a sensitivity reader.
  • How unless you're writing a memoir or an autobiography, you're writing about the "other."
  • How writing about different people is a craft skill you can develop. (She recommends a book called "Writing the Other.")
  • How if you do work with a sensitivity reader, you can find practical ways to raise that person's profile.

You can listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above or by finding the Grammar Girl podcast on any podcasting app, but if you prefer to read it, we also have a complete (rough) transcript.

Photo Credit: Gerry O'Brien.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.

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