Writing a short story+main character gay

  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Mar 17, 2010 5:12 AM GMT
    The other important detail is that he's in the military. Yes, yes this is my artist agenda pushing views on Don't Ask Don't Tell, but this short story is science fiction that takes place at least in the 22nd century and he's in a military unit that is all nations of earth defending earth's scientific colonies. I figure by that time gays should be able to openly serve...

    ANYWAY,
    The main reason I'm posting is to ask for advice. What cliche's should I avoid if I'm writing with a gay character? Are there any aspects of gay literature or gay romances in writing that are really overdone or lame that you would suggest I avoid?

    The main focus of this story is not his sexuality at all. That's only going to be a small part of it, at least that's the plan.
    The story is mainly about a human attempt to record every allele combination for optimum breeding purposes for human survival (like futuristic eugenics), so it is possible that as the story develops he might become "undesirable" to the cause seeing as he is attracted to men... who knows
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    Mar 17, 2010 8:04 AM GMT
    There was a joke on Will & Grace that had Will and Jack in a gay bookstore, and mentioning that it's "10,000 coming out stories."

    A great majority of gay literature is a coming out story, a pain of staying in the closet story (I'm guilty of that one), or a re-coming out story (discovering some new level of being gay, or discovering a love for drag).

    So my advice would be: try to find what happens after coming out. If it's absolutely vital that your main character be gay (it's a plot point, rather than a minor character detail), then figure out the uniqueness of that situation and highlight it.
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    Mar 17, 2010 10:25 AM GMT
    I would be more careful with putting in too many straight stereotypes, even more than gay ones. In too many stories, the character seems like he is trying so hard not to seem gay that the self-loathing becomes exalted by those who insist in a straight-acting mentality.

    When Brokeback Mountain came out, it was revered for this "not at all gay" attitude. A lot of people said "see, not all Gay people are so gaaaay", but it was sort of lost on them that the message of the film was precisely that this sort of "self-loathing" induced by the over-machoness of the characters is what let one person to die and the other to wither alone.

    So my advice is not to worry so much on whether your character meets existing stereotypes or not, but rather instead that the personality underneath outshines any kind of stereotypes. That could be the difference between what makes a truly great story, instead of just a cheesy scenario.

    (PS, I like T.C. Boyle short stories because he has a way of creating such genuine characters. Maybe you could read more of the type of author's voice you are trying to achieve, to contribute to ideas and development)
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Mar 18, 2010 8:46 AM GMT
    Thanks for your responses guys. I'll take these into consideration.
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    Mar 18, 2010 8:53 AM GMT
    Sounds more like a parallel to the catholic priests. Excluding themselves from the gene pool, yet wanting to control it.

    Also could feed in to any number of Samuel Delany plots.
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    Mar 18, 2010 9:23 AM GMT
    I think a key thing to avoid when writing a character is to avoid making him one aspect of his persona, instead of the entirety of his being.

    Write him as a human being. He is gay, that is a part of who he is.

    When someone writes down your life story, if all they have to say about you, if all they have taken from your story, is that you are gay, you have become a one-dimensional character.

    Write the character as if you were writing the story of your own life and your own struggles; be delicate, but unflinchingly honest.

    "For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity."

    -- George Orwell


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    Mar 18, 2010 10:55 AM GMT
    If the focus is not on his sexuality then portray him as a regular guy. Don't let his being gay take over other aspects in his life. Like he is in military, so show him a good soldier but not necessarily having sex with other soldiers, also he could have a boyfriend at home who he longs to be with. A lot of gay stories end up being more about the main characters sexual orientation rather than any other agenda.
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Mar 18, 2010 8:41 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidSounds more like a parallel to the catholic priests. Excluding themselves from the gene pool, yet wanting to control it.

    Also could feed in to any number of Samuel Delany plots.


    hmmm....plot misunderstanding lol
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Mar 18, 2010 8:59 PM GMT
    MeOhMy saidI think a key thing to avoid when writing a character is to avoid making him one aspect of his persona, instead of the entirety of his being.

    Write him as a human being. He is gay, that is a part of who he is.

    When someone writes down your life story, if all they have to say about you, if all they have taken from your story, is that you are gay, you have become a one-dimensional character.

    Write the character as if you were writing the story of your own life and your own struggles; be delicate, but unflinchingly honest.

    "For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity."

    -- George Orwell





    I second this!
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    Mar 18, 2010 9:06 PM GMT
    Please avoid auto-fiction, it is the craze these days and it is overdone and unoriginal.

    Coming out stories are less and less popular with a more progressive readership. Hell I haven't seen any coming-out stories published in France; we have been talking about butt fucking since Proust.
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Mar 19, 2010 2:59 AM GMT
    Pinny saidPlease avoid auto-fiction, it is the craze these days and it is overdone and unoriginal.


    The only thing the main character will have in common with me is that he's gay.
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    Mar 19, 2010 5:47 AM GMT
    i would advise you not speak directly to his sexuality. make it subtle. if there are moments where he looks fondly at pictures, describe the man in the image briefly and move on. if serving as an openly gay man is no longer an issue in the 2100's, then don't make it one. you could also pepper it lightly into convo:

    "how's christine," john asked, knowing that she wasn't well after the surgery, but still hoping his concern would comfort michael.

    "oh, she's already bossing me around," michael said. "is david still cooking tomorrow?"

    "yeah," john responded. "he wanted to know if you're bringing the wine this time."

    something along those lines. if it's no one's issue anymore, then make it as humdrum as being straight.
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    Mar 19, 2010 6:14 AM GMT
    Write the story. Gay should not be an issue. Think about how sexuality is handled in most straight fiction and handle it that way.

    Overall, I don't like it when character development and back-story get in the way of the real story.

    The suggested is almost always better than the revealed.
  • trl_

    Posts: 994

    Mar 19, 2010 6:32 AM GMT
    Good points! I'm glad I asked.
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Mar 19, 2010 6:56 AM GMT
    AND he should have a friend that is straight and jokes with him and for them to just be friends not having any crazy love story between that I hate stories that do that! I'm not in love with my straight best friend icon_evil.gif
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    Mar 19, 2010 5:48 PM GMT
    How about gay characters who aren't stereotypes and aren't self-loathing. What a concept huh?
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    Mar 20, 2010 7:24 AM GMT
    wrestlervic saidHow about gay characters who aren't stereotypes and aren't self-loathing. What a concept huh?

    That's why it's called fiction.
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    Mar 20, 2010 7:31 AM GMT
    how about mentioning the sexuality and not mentioning it again? the cliche is that his sexuality defines him at all...
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    Apr 08, 2010 5:08 AM GMT
    "Story" by Robert McKee is a valuable reference for constructing stories. Although the book is geared towards the writing of screenplays, many of the concepts can be applied to the writing of plays and novels as well.

    In the end, we all love a good story that is well told.

    Aloha and Be Well!

    Alan
  • DrewT

    Posts: 1327

    Apr 08, 2010 5:14 AM GMT
    Avoid cliche's period! icon_smile.gif As a writer myself the one small piece of advice I can say: eliminate generic details and strive of specific details. And read, read, read! icon_biggrin.gif