Member Reviews

Every time we write a story or report a situation, we assume that we know who our characters are. Yet there are few things more jarring than identifying with a character in a novel or creative non-fiction and encountering impossible details and settings., we assume that we know who our characters are. Yet there are few things more jarring than identifying with a character in a novel or creative non-fiction and encountering impossible details and settings.

If you're writing, you need this book. Work through it step by step to align your story, backdrop, language, and other parts of the setting to what should be true for the character. You'll thank Temblador for his good counsel!

Was this review helpful?

I can’t stress enough how EVERY writer should read this. Alex Temblador breaks down incredibly complex topics and explains them to the reader in a way that is surprisingly accessible and not as dry as I expect my nonfiction to be. Quite the opposite this was a very engaging and educational read.

If you are a writer who needs guidance while navigating the complex path of authentic representation, Alex Temblador’s Writing an Identity Not Your Own will offer you some of the most valuable words of wisdom you’ll get in your writing career. I for one know for a fact that I’ll be revisiting this book multiple times in my journey as a writer and will be recommending it to everyone in my writing group because as I said at the beginning of my review, EVERY writer should read this!

Was this review helpful?

My thanks to NetGalley and St.Martin's Press for an advance copy of this guide to to writing which helps creative writers learn how to approach characters from different backgrounds and experiences and portray them on paper as well as other characters should be treated.
I've worked in publishing over half of my life now. Retail, editing, researching and working on magazines, and as a writer of articles and short stories. I can easily state, without shocking many that the publishing industry has not changed much since the days of Benjamin Franklin setting type. The same people edit, all sharing the same backgrounds, and schooling, with the same ideas about authors, and who should be given the push, and who should be happy to get a small fee. Many of the authors given the push, the magic rub seem much like the editors, or even the companies that now own most publishers. There are smaller publishers, but compared to the big four, the competition is unfair. This goes for the books that are published. Editors love to have hot button books, but the hot buttons are usually written by people whose research is a few conversations with someone they met in school. To write about the many people in the world those not sharing the same color, race, creed, religion, schools, even sports, takes more than most writers are capable of. Which is why many writers stick with who they know. And the readers are made the poorer for this. Alex Temblador has written about the lack of diversity in publishing and has seen the problem of writers writing about what they don't know, and find easy to stereotype. Temblador's book Writing an Identity Not Your Own: A Guide for Creative Writers is both a cultural study of publishing and its problems with people they aren't the same as them, and how writers owe it to their art and others to try and write about the people of the world, with respect and honor.

The book opens with almost an essay dealing with many of the controversies in publishing, especially the issue of the book American Dirt. The writer claimed to be a 1/4 Puerto Rican and wrote a book about the immigrant experience with a bit of a thriller aspect and much in the way of stereotyping, and even possibly plagiarism. The book was of course a huge bestseller, a television book club choice, which is good as the author was given quite a lot for a debut book. Temblador discusses publishers and the problem they have had with both representation, and understanding the fact that writing badly about a race, especially in a bestseller keeps the myths alive of what most people about people who could be called others. Not just in color, sex, but also people who live life with may challenges, that many do not. Temblador gives examples of good and bad writing, along with assignments that ask writers to leave their comfort zone and think and feel. And do research. Do one's best for the work, and let the work reflect that.

Alex Temblador is a heck of a writer with a very good way of writing, and telling her story. There is a lot of personal moments in here, which really bang home the fact that words have actions. Representation matters. People might not want to be Batman, but they want to be someone, and if books lack this, lack any proof that one exists, how does that make one feel. Temblador examples are presented not to judge, or blame, but show that things have changed. What was once acceptable, might not be anymore. The writing assignments are interesting and really make one go, hmm I never thought of that, or I never thought of writing that. A very powerful and important book.

One of the more interesting writing books I have read, for while most books about writing are to help writers, this is more to help readers, by giving writers skills to encompass a broader world of people and experiences. A book that many should read and one that I am sure that a few vocal people will complain about.

Was this review helpful?

Very helpful! I enjoyed the exercises included in this book. I look forward to applying some of the information from this book. I think the tips included for writing a character that’s not like myself are also helpful in self-analyzing. The tips included will help anyone, non-writers included, to recognize prejudice and bias we may not realize we hold. It encourages us to interact with diversity and openness in mind.

Was this review helpful?

I found this a great writing resource! This is definitely a hard part of writing and this book had lots of good information. Definitely one to add to your books for learning the craft of writing.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to the publisher for this eARC.

“Writing an Identity Not Your Own: A Guide for Creative Writers” by Alex Temblador is a seminal work that addresses the intricate and often contentious task of creating characters with identities different from the author’s own. Temblador, an award-winning author, delves into the complexities of diversity in publishing with a clear-eyed perspective that is both instructive and enlightening.

The book begins with a foundational discussion on the concept of ‘identity’ and its significance within the literary world. Temblador’s approach is methodical as she unpacks the layers of unconscious bias and the barriers they present to authentic representation. Her guidance is practical, offering writers the tools to navigate the pre-writing and editing phases with a focus on intersectionality and the nuances of various marginalized identities.

What sets this guide apart is its genre-specific advice, providing a tailored approach to writing identities across different literary forms. The inclusion of writing strategies, exercises, and literary excerpts makes the book an interactive experience, encouraging writers to engage deeply with the material.

Temblador’s work is a testament to the importance of getting representation right. It’s not just about avoiding stereotypes and tropes; it’s about enriching the literary landscape with genuine and diverse voices. This book is a must-read for any writer committed to crafting characters with care and respect, ensuring that the stories they tell are both compelling and conscientious.

“Writing an Identity Not Your Own” is a compass for navigating the moral and creative imperatives of contemporary writing. It’s a book that doesn’t just sit on your shelf; it becomes a companion, providing invaluable insights as you breathe life into the characters that populate the pages of your work. With Temblador’s book in hand, writers will find themselves better equipped to write with authenticity and sensitivity, making it an indispensable resource in any writer’s library.

Was this review helpful?

I really wanted this book as I am working on a novel. I think the idea of who can tell what stories is fascinating. I enjoy the prompts.

Was this review helpful?

As an aspiring author I LOVED this book. I’m currently trying to write a book of my own and constantly get stuck on the little details. Especially details surrounding the characters of my story. I found this to be a very helpful guide to help aid me in my writing journey. Absolute must read for any writers out there.

Was this review helpful?

Writing an Identity Not Your Own: A Guide for Creative Writers by Alex Temblador is a well researched and thought out guidebook for writers. This book comes from the author’s own experience and careful research, including workshops the author has given on this topic. This book is a fantastic resource for writers that may not know much about how to explore an identity different from their own. I like the way it is laid out and how well it explores these issues. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.

Was this review helpful?

A nice little primer filled with solid advice for anyone who needs it. Though sadly enough, it never occurs to people who struggle to write characters from marginalized groups that these characters are, at the most fundamental level, people.

Was this review helpful?

I am not a writer, though I went to school for creative writing, I enjoy editing and critiquing far more than writing stories. I really enjoyed reading this book and plan to integrate some of the book lists and additional articles into my dual-credit literature course I teach. This is a concept my class discusses a lot. This guide was very eye opening and informative. I really enjoyed the tropes and stereotypes it opened my eyes to some of the cliche sayings that I use and how those can be harmful. This book isn’t just for writers I think it is beneficial to readers as well. We, as readers, have to help keep writers honest, in a kind way, about their writing of other identities. Pick this one up when I comes out!

Was this review helpful?

Thoughtful and interesting insights on writing a supporting character whose identity is different from your own and how to do that with respect.

Was this review helpful?

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The content is very good and vitally important. It covers a wide range of stereotypes/tropes/pitfalls to avoid harming marginalized communities. It also goes way beyond those lists to discuss methods for doing your research as a writer, not just in the current climate for how things stand at the moment but how to navigate these issues as they naturally evolve. As a writer I feel much better equipped to approach writing identities not my own in a respectful, nuanced, untokenized way. Many fantastic resources are listed throughout the book.

While the author discusses genres like historical fiction and fantasy, much of the advice/focus seems to be on contemporary fiction. She acknowledges that her information and opinions may not be complete or universal and does a good job of standing by that throughout the book, and sometimes I disagreed with her assertions (especially regarding her list of ""tired"" romance tropes, which doesn't seem to belong in this book anyway since it doesn't connect to the topic of writing marginalized identities).

Even for an advanced reader copy, I was surprised at how unfinished the book is. It desperately needs a proofreader, there were missing/placeholder page numbers and links, and the digital formatting was atrocious (e.g. tables spanning multiple pages and overlapping other content, making it impossible to read). Hopefully these issues are addressed before publication.

Was this review helpful?

I really like this book. There's a lot going on and personally I do believe the formatting makes it difficult to utilize well. I think the writer attempted to conquer a monumental task and does a decent job trying to address all the various topics and facets of identity. It is a huge undertaking and Temblador does so well and with acknowledgements for all the variety of opinions from people within those groups. This is well done.

As I said though I do think the way it's formatted makes the text a little unwieldy and difficult to really work through well. This is a masterclass set in a book which is very overwhelming.

Was this review helpful?

I found this book extremely useful as I'm trying to write my first novel which includes people of races other than white. Just ordinary people that  typically live in my hometown of Dartmouth Nova Scotia. I want to do it respectfully. 
Three comprehensive sections cover “Before you Write” “As You Write” and “Editing Identities Other than Your Own.” 
The book is a great combination of detail and precision in an approachable tone  and covers topics thoroughly, aided by subheaded tables of contents that help you zero in on what you want. I was most interested in historically marginalized identities and there's a long chapter on every aspect: physical appearance stereotyping,  skin tone, hair, race ethnicity, and body types, etc. which I found really helpful. Sex and gender identity is also covered.
 It's up to all of us to understand bias and harmful representations and ensure our work is free of it. 
When this book comes out in August I will have to buy myself a copy. Put it on your shelf next to Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses. 

Many thanks to @stmartinsessentials, @netgalley and the author for this advance e copy in exchange for an honest review

Was this review helpful?

I typically don’t read much nonfiction, but when I saw Writing an Identity Not Your Own as an ARC in NetGalley, I was intrigued. Anyone who personally knows me is aware I believe representation is important, and should be represented authentically. I had high hopes, and this book delivered.

Writing an Identity Not Your Own is an AMAZING resource for every person– while this focuses on authors/writers, I think anyone can read this and learn something new.

Something about nonfiction that has always bothered me was how dry the genre can be (at least to me), but this book reads like a story and isn’t dry at all– I was happily surprised. The book is broken into sections and the information is given in small chunks, which makes it very manageable to read.

Alex Temblador (the author) touches on so many important topics, and does it well. She makes you aware of stereotypes, tropes, gives you examples, exercises, suggestions, and so much more.

I want to stress that EVERY writer should read this– we all have biases and stereotypes in our heads that society has fed us, and this does a good job of helping you realize that.

Writing an Identity Not Your Own by Alex Temblador comes out on August 13th!

And thank you to NetGalley for the eARC of the book!

Was this review helpful?

I'm really not a writer, but I am very interested in the craft. I found this book fascinating and so well done. It was like taking a college course on writing from other perspectives, and I can see that it'll be extremely helpful to new and experienced writers as they bring more diversity into their characters and stories.

Wow! Loved it!

Was this review helpful?

By far, this is the single most important book that EVERY writer should purchase. Not only does Alex do a deep dive into all the aspects of writing characters that you do not identify with, she also gives an inside look as to what is happening in the publishing world. I found myself hanging on to every word as she described (with wit and intelligence) the ins and outs of inherent biases that we all carry.

I also loved that she owns we are all flawed but that we must, as writers, do the research and seek answers because it is our responsibility to do so. I will admit that I am now questioning my own work in progress and wondering how the hell I'm going to ensure the communities I am writing about are a correct representation of them - I'll likely be adding even more sensitivity readers to my list!

Also, I've already pre-ordered this book for all of my writer friends - it's that good and that important!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

What an incredibly important book! I'm so grateful to Temblador for writing this. As an author, it's important to me to include people different than myself in my books, to try to fully represent the world around us, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because I want my friends who are all unique individuals and many of whom are very different than me, to see themselves in my books and others' books as well. I also like that this book discusses issues of misrepresentation, appropriation, and stereotypes (per the back cover copy). I never try to write a main character who is an identity other than my own, but in. my real life, I am surrounded by all sorts of people, all colors, all genders and sexual orientations--I think it's so important to reflect reality in my books, but I want to do so in a respectful way that doesn't merely reflect stereotypes. While this is a constant practice, learning every day, I feel as though this book is an excellent guide book, a great start.

Was this review helpful?

Writing an Identity Not Your Own is a much needed, eye opening resource. As a writer I learned so much from this book. Things I had not previously considered in my own writing. I highly recommend this book to writers of every type. Adherence to the advice and tools found in this book will save writers from heartache and possible legal woes in the future. This is definitely a book I will be adding to my library.

Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this book.

Was this review helpful?