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How to write a closeted gay elf

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by AstralCat, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    It's as simple and complicated as it sounds. Prepare for a lot of info.

    I have a somewhat important side-character. He happens to be a male elf who is attracted to men (though the fact that he's an elf is purely coincidental). The society he lives in typically frowns upon homosexuality, thus he isn't about to tell everyone about his feelings. In fact he's not really a touchy-feely kind of guy in the first place. And he probably hasn't even admitted to himself that he's attracted to men. At least not until much later.

    Two other things worth noting... At the start of the story, he's betrothed to a princess due to his bravery on the battlefeild. Though he has a lot of respect for the princess, the only reason he doesn't try to break up with her is because he can't find a good enough reason to turn her down. ...Also, he once fell in love with a fellow soldier, but never admitted it to anyone. That soldier died rescuing him, and never knew his feelings.


    ...Mainly, I fear that when the time comes for him to realize this about himself, it might seem like it came out of nowhere. He comes across as sort of cold, distant and grumpy, so he's not likely to talk about himself much. This makes things difficult.

    I have no plans for him to have a legitimate love interest thus far, but I would not be against it so long as it didn't feel tagged on or anything.
     
  2. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    If he's cold and distant, maybe you could have him get drunk and loosen up a bit, showing his true self. As far as writing the character throughout the story, indifference to women or getting a little tongue-tied around a guy he digs could be alright. Just depends on where you want to take it and why this detail in the character is important to the plot. Great name, by the way ;).
     
  3. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    ;D I like your name too.
     
  4. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    Also, I can see the getting-him-drunk thing working. But at the same time I don't think he'd be the type to drink. He's way too practical. He'd avoid anything that might impair his judgement in any way...... Unless he didn't know it was alcoholic. XD Ohhh myyyy... I think I'll need to do that.
     
  5. Devora

    Devora Sage

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    Pretty good idea for a story.

    I have to ask: Would the reader know at the beginning that the Elf Character is gay?
     
  6. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    No. They wouldn't. The story is being told from the point of view of a character who doesn't know, so the readers will find out when she does. ...Also he and the viewpoint-lady character don't get along at first. They're on the same side, but they tend to toss sarcastic remarks at each other on a regular basis. Only later do they become friends.
     
  7. Devora

    Devora Sage

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    How does he reveal his sexuality later on?
     
  8. LadyofKaos

    LadyofKaos Scribe

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    Another way to drop hints to his sexuality is through his gestures, likes, and dislikes. Or perhaps in the way he turns a phrase. He could be extremely meticulous in his appearance - worse than a metro sexual - hair, clothes, accessories, etc. There are numerous ways to elude to his sexuality without having to say it straight out.
     
    Devora likes this.
  9. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    I haven't completely decided that yet. I'm not sure if it'll even happen before, durring or after he breaks up with the Princess, since the Princess herself has her own reasons not to marry him by then. They end up very happily agreeing to just be friends.

    I can see him fussing over his hair, since he does have long silky black hair. And he wouldn't even be teased for it that much since it's not unusual for male elves to have long beautiful hair. ....Then again it would be more of an elf thing than a gay thing for him.

    As for the rest.... Can't see him fussing over clothes. Unless he's complaining that he has to go somewhere without armor. He's very practical. Probably hates going anywhere where he's expected to dress nice.... though that might be because he's expected to dance with ladies. And said ladies are probably swooning over him because he's a brooding war hero.
     
  10. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Personally I'd avoid the stereotypical feminine body language thing. Burly men can be gay too. If this is a significant character you have a lot of time to work this in. Personally the way I'd go about it is have him question his own actions or have other question them.

    If there are scenes from his point of view, it's not complicated to just have him check out another man, not in a lustful way--although that's an option--but just an admiration of the other man's features and then have him question why he did that. Do this two or three times and the reader will realize what's going on even if the character doesn't.

    Or if this character doesn't get scenes from their point of view, do the same but have another character notice and ask themselves why the elf is watching the hansom king instead of the gorgeous queen. Again, do this two or three times and the reader will pick up on it.
     
  11. Alexandra

    Alexandra Troubadour

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    Why is this character gay? Does his sexual preference become an issue at some point in the story, beyond the marriage to a woman? As a plot device what does the character's homosexuality do or contribute?
     
  12. Devora

    Devora Sage

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    In my opinion, Not every single detail of a story has to be a plot device/plot relevent. They can just be a character trait just to be a character trait.

    On the other hand, the detail of the Elf being Gay is most likely going to be an important focus for AstralCat's story. I say this is an interesting idea, and i would like to read it once it is finished, if that is okay. :)
     
    LadyofKaos and Firekeeper like this.
  13. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    Some readers might be turned away if it comes across as stereotypical. Also, since he's an elf such stereotypes may not apply at all. Legolas always seemed effeminate, but I think that's how all elves were. The character certainly never struck me as gay

    I'd say he's sullen and introverted, which can come not only from his denial of his feelings and his betrothal to a princess, but also because he's afraid he may accidentally out himself if he's too open and friendly around others.
     
  14. Alexandra

    Alexandra Troubadour

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    The character's sexual orientation is not something frivolous such as his favourite colour, or the length of his hair, particularly when there may be an important marriage involved. The reason why I asked my original questions is what makes the elf's orientation important to the story may offer clues as to how to introduce said information–short of the obvious ways, of course.
     
    Devora likes this.
  15. LadyofKaos

    LadyofKaos Scribe

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    I purposely did not mention 'effeminate' or even 'emotional' to avoid the stereotypical. Gays come in all spectrums from extremely feminine to more butch than Chris Norris.

    I would think the first thing to consider is if this character is comfortable with who he is.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Sexuality is not a frivolous aspect of a character, true, but unless you find yourself asking what part of the plot a character's heterosexuality contributes to, it seems odd to demand it of a character's homosexuality, in my view. Why should there have to be a plot-based reason for one but not the other?
     
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  17. Alexandra

    Alexandra Troubadour

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    The author of the story has made it an issue; the character's sexuality is a potential source of ongoing conflict and conflict drives fiction.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes, clearly. I making a broader point, which is directed to the idea that the presence of a gay character has to be justified in some way in terms of plot development. I do not agree that it does.
     
  19. Alexandra

    Alexandra Troubadour

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    Oh, OK. I was not making a generalization about all gay characters in works of fiction, just the one example being discussed here.
     
  20. AstralCat

    AstralCat Scribe

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    The answer is no. He's not. He sees any effeminate characteristics, and any urge he may have to check out how handsome that guy over there looks in armor, as a tragic flaw in himself

    .....As for other things mentioned here...

    I do have a reason for him being gay. It contributes to an overall theme in the story. Many of the characters are keeping deep dark secrets about themselves. Things that they think will ruin everything if they come to light. But however painful the truth may be, the only way to keep walking in the light is to have the truth revealed. They each have their secrets revealed in turn. Often this causes a lot of initial pain, but it also causes them to start down the right path.

    Originally, I he wasn't going to be gay. In fact I tried to pair him off with a woman more than once. But it never felt natural, and I wondered why. I paused, and said to myself "Oh! He's gay! It all makes sense now!" and that's how things have been ever since.
     
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