Guest Post by Eric Trant, author of Steps

Today we are hosting author Eric Trant as part of the promotional tour for his book Steps.  Eric is here today to talk about bigotry in writing.  Welcome, Eric!

Bigotry in Writing Part II: How Realistic Are Your Bigots?
By Eric Trant
Ah, the topic of the day: Bigotry, Part II. Let's not debate real-world bigotry, but rather, let's consider bigotry in the realm of fiction, and specifically, how realistically we manufacture our bigots.

First, a pitfall: You must suspend your own bigotry if you want to create realistic bigots. I know, you do not consider yourself a bigot, but believe me, bigotry is a murky pond we dive into, and while you may feel justified writing a scene depicting a white Southern Baptist screaming racial, homophobic slurs amidst a volley of yalls and yee-haws, you need to cull that instinct lest you step in something sticky. While it may be popular to condemn certain groups today, it may not be so popular in the coming years. Be careful with your choices.

Your words, hopefully, will last a long time. Make them timeless.
Now, how do you make your words timeless? By being realistic, of course.
Let's look at an example of timeless, realistic bigotry. One of the most famous is Huck Finn. Bigotry is a subtle but strong undercurrent, and Clemens somehow reined in his own beliefs such that he did not depict all Southerners as over-the-top, whip-slinging, slave-beating plantation owners. Had he done so, he would have alienated a good many readers, and would not have fairly portrayed the situation in the South.

Do not generalize all your bigots into one hateful class.
The key thing to note is this: Not ~all~ white Southerners in Finn are portrayed as racist, nor are they slave-owners. In fact, most of them are pretty normal. In Huck's case, while he is a white Southerner, he is squarely on the wrong side of wealth, so much that he finds himself drifting upstream with a runaway slave for no other reason than he has no reason not to. Furthermore, bigotry is, to him, a somewhat foreign concept.

Bigotry is subtle.
If you are blatant with your bigotry, you will upend your reader's disbelief. While you are writing fiction, Dear Reader still needs to dip at least one foot into your waters. Bigots crawl around in the dark, because these are dark waters. They hide from the light, scurry around the corner, leave traces of their scat, maybe fresh and warm, but their little feet have scooted them into their hole at the clapping of your heels. They are gone before you see them, known only by the gnaws they left.

Bigots are not psychopaths.
You might be tempted to align bigots with psychopaths, such as gunmen in churches, murderous officers, hate-slinging preachers, or Bible thumpers who lock their kids in the attic/closet/bedroom for their sins (which has been over-used to the point of cliché), but I advise you separate psychotic behavior from more mainstream bigotry. If you intentionally want to create psychopaths, have at. It worked for King in Carrie, Andrews in Flowers in the Attic, and the movie Kingsmen (they slaughtered an entire church led by a psychotic preacher).
Even then, I caution you to balance the psychopath to show you are not generalizing the group. For instance, consider Silence of the Lambs. Had Harris made Clarice gay, he might have avoided the backlash from the gay (and especially transgender) community about his psychotic antagonist. Do you see the sticky mud Harris found himself in regarding his own personal biases? Do you see what I mean about being careful?

Bigots are hateful for a reason.
Find that reason. Even if you do not write it, during your character sketches, delve into the reason your bigot hates a particular group. During this sketch, make it clear that ~individuals~ are bigots, rather than the entire group.

Anyway, those are my few thoughts on creating realistic persons of hate in your fiction. For those who have tramped down this rocky road, please share your experience, as it is an important topic for every writer to consider, especially as their work matures and the expectations of quality rise.

About the Book

Steps is a well written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.

Society is falling to a ravaging virus, and the Peacemaker family is stranded in the mountains of Arkansas. Forced to band with a group of deserted soldiers, they battle to survive starvation, apocalyptic cataclysms, and a growing number of dangerously infected wanderers. 

As their dwindling number struggles against ever-increasing odds, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. A large creature is present in the hills, at first seen only as a fleeting shadow.

Now the family not only faces impending death from the unstoppable virus, they must also deal with the mysterious giant, whose footprints signify that he knows where they are.

Paperback: 218 Pages

Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)

Twitter hashtag: # StepsTrant

Steps  is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon

About the Author

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! 

See more of Eric's work at:


  1. Kelli et al, thanks for hosting such a potentially controversial topic. Even for those who disagree with my points, I hope they will be inspired to think.

    - Eric

    1. We are honored to have you here, Eric! Thank you for guest posting for us. And yes, your post was most definitely thought-provoking.


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