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This panel was a surprise. I expected to talk about writing folks who aren't the king, not the famous warrior, and stuff like that.
With Bard & Sigurd, (two wandering nobodies), and Petros, Parvana and Ana (three slaves), it seemed like I'd have something to say.
Instead, we talked about un-represented minorities: women, people of color, LGBTQ, and such.
The big takeaways were to do your research. Read Out, Ebony, or whatever magazine addresses the subgroup you're writing about.
The other take-away was to get plenty of sensitivity readers. These are friends who are a member of the group you're including and will tell you if you've just pissed them off with a stupid remark or stereotype.
Obviously, putting a Steppin Fetchit character into a book is asking for trouble.
A black author at another convention I attended mentioned a scene where the black woman "dampened her hair to straighten it out". If you're a Scandinavian blonde, that might work. For folks with curly or kinky hair, wetting the hair makes it explode.
That's the kind of stupid trick that will turn off the sub-group you're trying to put into your story.
Avoid the stereotypical roles of cowardly villain for a gay guy, or the servant/slave for a black. Even in the pre-civil war era, there were plenty of wealthy, free, black men - even in the South.
Putting a non-white-male character into your story only works if it's really a non-white-male. Just making the Conan look-alike female doesn't change your story, or address the fact that she's actually not Conan. If she swings a double-handed broadsword with one hand, she's just a white male with a funny name.
Same thing with a black, oriental, gay, etc character. They have different issues with society than a straight, white male.
Obviously, that's more important if you're writing in a current time and US society than if your story takes place in the 9th or 29th century. Things have changed since the 9th and could change again by the 29th.