1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Please help me not [email protected]#$ my novel up

Discussion in 'Research' started by Lunaria1990, May 18, 2017.

  1. Lunaria1990

    Lunaria1990 New Member

    One of my main characters is gay has been a previous relationship that ended badly. A couple years later another guy falls for my main character and they get together later.

    Here's where I have a problem. I'm straight and a girl. My gay characters are all men. I don't know any gay men. I don't know how to write realistic relationship developing between two Gay characters. I don't want to stereotype or make it cliched can someone give me some tips, please.


    My eternal gratitude to anyone who can give me some good advice or point me to a reliable resource. Have a great day everyone. And thank you for all future responses.

  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I bet you do, and probably don't know it...
    My knowledge is limited [I don't know how it works for everyone] but I've noticed not much of a difference between my friends [gay or straight] when it comes to relationships. They are all equally bad at them. :p
    I've seen just as much giggling and hold handing at the start of a relationship and shouting and door slamming at the end...
    Okay may be a little less giggling and a bit more sullen mopping with the men.
    There was a round of applause in the pub when some of my friends got down on one knee and proposed in the half-time of an England football match.
    What is the setting they live in? Even within a single culture relationship in 1950s will be very different to ones in the 80s or 2010s... Homophobia. Isolation. Stigma. Secrecy. Inclusion. Acceptance. Openness. They will all be there to different degrees depending on the culture.
  3. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    my twin brother is gay, so I have a little bit of knowledge I can dispense; really, it's just like writing a normal relationship. The only difference is that we're dealing with two men, and with that means that they have the same flaws and thought processes of men. There tends to be a trope that one has to be masculine and one feminine, and while yes there are feminine gays and masculine gays and they can often end up with each other, it doesn't have to be that way and it gets overdone somethings.

    But other than that, don't sweat it. Write good characters that feel like human beings and everything should be good.
  4. Foah

    Foah Troubadour

    I quite honestly feel safe saying you don't need to know any gay people in your vicinity to write a believable gay relationship. Because there's no difference in the relationship itself. Two people are fond of each other, and that's that.

    The tricky part is dealing with the stigma and problems of homosexuality and society. Is the society in your book like ours today? Like ours 50 years ago? 500 years ago? Is it western? African, middle-eastern, asian? Homosexuality is completely natural and occurs in most, if not all, sentient species and only humans are smart enough to overthink it to the point where we in the past have crucified people for it. Literally and figuratively. There are still countries and regimes today where being openly gay can grant you the death penalty.

    The relationship itself you'll write just like you write any relationship. You just have to know whether or not your story's society is accepting of it, or if they punish it, or anything in between.
    Lisselle likes this.
  5. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

    So what if you're an ordinary girl? Tolkien never knew any Elves, and yet did a good job writing about Elves. Pratchett never knew any Werewolves and yet did a good job writing about Werewolves.

    Just keep in mind that homosexual men (in this case) are human beings just like everyone else. Their feelings, their emotions, their fears & worries, their burdens and their joys are nó different than anyone else's.

    They are people, and you are a person. Don't fall for the modern social engineering trap that says only gay men can understand or write about gay men, that only black girls can understand or write about black girls. These men love one another, and that's what is at issue in the story; not that they are two men --- that's just non-relevant window dressing.
  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I'll echo others.

    Biggest question: What is the setting? Is it a contemporary novel, a historical novel, a second world fantasy, future/alien/sci-fi?

    The culture present in your world will make a huge difference in how you write these two characters. Ideas of masculinity, femininity, homosexuality, romantic relationships, love, familial relationships, social duty, etc., will play a large role in their interactions.

    So it's hard for me to give you solid advice without knowing the setting.

    That said, here are a few things to consider.

    The biggest stumbling block and potential for "doing it wrong" would be to imagine that gay men are some kind of mythical being, like elves or ogres, impossible for a non-gay-man to understand. Gay men are humans, with human feelings, desires, goals, doubts, and all the rest of what makes a human human. In other words, there's not some kind of special way of being, per se, that sets gay men off from other humans.

    BUT I add that "per se" because one of the mistakes some writers make when creating a gay romance is to write one or both men as women who simply have different body parts. This one is little tricky, because it includes stereotypes of what is woman and what is man, and 1) men and women are a lot alike, and 2) a writer can easily fall into the trap of stereotyping what it means to be a woman or a man. So I wouldn't overthink it too much but just keep in mind that if your setting includes a world in which some roles and stereotypes exist for the sexes, your characters are likely to have learned those also. (A boy raised as a boy is still going to be a "man" when he grows up and may interact with the world, his family, his romantic interest, as a man, whatever that means in your world.)

    So my broad advice is simply to write characters–individuals with their own unique personalities–and not worry overmuch about whether these characters come across as gay or straight. Again, however, your setting will make a large difference in how they think about themselves and their interactions, and these influences from the culture could add another layer to their identities; but that's a layer, or addition, to their individual personalities, not necessarily the only defining characteristic.
  7. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    You've already received solid advice above that applies to all characters.

    Take the time to really understand every character you write (if they're repeating characters in your story). Sketch them out in detail. Let them rant stream-of-consciousness style. Interview them until they feel complete and distinct. This takes time and effort, but eventually they will feel like whole human beings, and that will bleed onto the page.

    Stereotypes don't work in writing because they don't surprise. There is some wisdom in playing to certain reader expectations, but I don't believe characters fall into that category. Main characters should be interesting and surprise readers with their uniqueness.

    Considering your concern that you don't know any gay men, and you're a straight female...

    I've met effeminate straight men.
    I've met masculine straight women.
    I've met effeminate gay men.
    I've met gay men you wouldn't know where gay if they didn't tell you & who would kick the ass of 90% of straight men.
    I know a pair of lipstick lesbians.

    I don't think I've ever hung out with a trans person, but I'm damn sure I could write a trans character because the character I'd create would be far more than a mishmash of gender, orientation, and chosen environment.

    I could go on and on. Point being, human beings don't come organized into neat little boxes. Even though we try to place them into categories, if we take the time to get to know someone, we soon learn how unique and multifaceted a person can be.

    Treat your characters the same way.
    Penpilot, Simpson17866 and Steerpike like this.
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Agree with the above. If you write a gay relationship based on some of idea of what a gay relationship must be like, rather than writing them as people who share all the emotional and other reactions of any human being, you're heading toward writing a cliche. Avoid that temptation.
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  9. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Minstrel

    Basically, focus on what makes your characters different from each other as much as on what makes them similar. People are not stereotypes, only patterns are stereotypes.

    If Kyra Sylvan had been my only female character, then 100% of my female cast being a people-oriented psychic with strong religious convictions would've given the impression that all women in my story's world are obsessed with socializing and religion.

    If Captain June Harper had been my only female character, then 100% of my female cast being a promiscuous, bisexual/biromantic, people-oriented bloodthirsty vigilante serial killing leader of the protagonists would've given the impression that all women in my story's world are hypersexual, domineering, and hyper-emotional

    If Arachne had been my only female character, then 100% of my female cast being a sentient ship would've given the impression that all women in my story's world are some species other than humans

    If Colonel Leeson had been my only female character, then 100% of my female cast working for a mad science facility bent on perfecting a super-soldier program would've created the impression that all women in my story's world care so much about making other people "better" that they're willing to torture you to death to do it

    If TL-13-Beta / "Kathryn" had been my only female character, then 100% of my female cast being a Time Lord who becomes the ship's lead mechanic would've given the impression that all women are a species other than human and that they should all work in manual fields


    Likewise, what made Captain June Harper problematic from an LGBT+ perspective was not that one of my characters was a promiscuous bisexual/biromantic serial killer, the problem was that 100% of my bi cast was a promiscuous serial killer. I didn't fix this by changing/removing the character, I fixed it by making two of my existing heroic male characters a couple, and this made their story a thousand times better in addition to salvaging the Captain's (despite my having originally intended to make one of them AroAce like me before he retroactively turned out to have been bi the whole time).
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    There is a huge and obvious difference between gay and straight relationships:

    The closet.

    When two people meet they have no idea if the other person is gay, and depending on the setting and the characters, it might not be an easy thing to discuss. There are consequences for a person outing themselves, and again for asking if somebody else is gay. Maybe it's awkwardness, or a little friendship-damaging tension, or it can be life-wrecking.

    Then there are the psychological effects of actually being in the closet, which can also be a struggle.

    It's a major difference that requires a lot of context and care to come close to getting right.

    ((edit)) Although of course it's entirely possible to write a relationship that minimizes the impact of the closet, depending on the context.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  11. Lunaria1990

    Lunaria1990 New Member

    If it helps the area the characters are mostly in there's a lot of homophobic people and by that mean 75 percent of the population.
  12. Lunaria1990

    Lunaria1990 New Member

    The reason why I wrote this is because when I went to edit my finished manuscript I realized I use every bad gay romance cliche and trope. So I panicked after having to delete over half my manuscript. Wich was frustrating, to be honest, so I panicked. The help and advice has been really helpful. I just didn't want to make my novel a bad romance trope thank you, everyone. Seriously though what would be some romance tropes for straight or gay characters that are best avoided?
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Minstrel

    Just noticed your post count; welcome to the site!

    The idea that people of compatible gender and orientation can't be "just" friends unless one of them is taken (I'm looking at you, When Harry Met Sally). Does either of your guys have a platonic relationship with a gay-guy friend in which neither one would ever dream of dating the other even if they were both available?
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    "Homophobic" is a buzz word. That doesn't tell us anything.

    Look, here's a true story that I happened to read this morning.

    Have you ever ruined someone's life?

    No cheating, read the darn thing.

    Is this the sort of story that could be told in your setting?

    The point that I'm trying to make is that unless you can really wrap your mind around the way people think or feel about something in your story, you're only making and asking for sweeping generalizations that can't really be answered.
  15. Lunaria1990

    Lunaria1990 New Member

    Ok, I'm going to have to elaborate again. The society that both my lead characters are in looks down on LGBTQ community to the point of you usually can't get any work and you might even get beat up for being anything but completely straight. So they are both in the closset. Then they realize they have feelings for eachother. At some point, they find out the feelings are returned and don't what they want to do because they're both scared of getting the other person in trouble.

    It was more having trouble writing gay characters in that kind of environment that I was having problems with. I don't know how someone who's gay would feel if they had to be in the closet all the time especially after realizing they love someone and that someone loves them two. And then when they do end up in a relationship together they have to hide it because of the way their society treats people who are gay.
  16. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Minstrel

    Have you looked into how people in the closet might find out that other people are too?

    Is "writer" a buzz word because it "doesn't tell us anything" about what the person writes or why?
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  17. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Often I find that finding something similar from your own life and applying it to the fictional situation can help a lot.

    As others have said a gay relationship is basically the same as a straight one. It all depends on the people and the situation.

    Now lets look at your character's situation. If we remove their sexuality from the equation for the moment, how is their situation similar to others?

    To me it's a little like forbidden love like Romeo and Juliet. It's like being an outsider and not belonging, like the cliche introverted, nerdy kid who meets another nerdy, introverted kid, and they bond over shared interest like DnD. It's like someone, who has to shatter their parents' expectation, because they don't want to go into the family business, because they have a path of their own to follow.

    Obviously, these things aren't exactly the same, but they touch on similar emotions, so you can draw from that and apply it to a different situation. Have you ever felt like an outsider? Have you have had a secret you don't want other's to know? If you do, then you have something to work with.
    T.Allen.Smith and FifthView like this.
  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Penpilot brings up a great point.

    There is a feeling of difference or being different that never quite leaves a gay man, a consequence of being born into families full of heterosexual members and living in a world where the percent population who are gay men is rather small compared to the whole population size. If the society also stigmatizes homosexuality, this feeling can be exacerbated.

    BUT I wouldn't say this feeling or experience is 100% a "gay thing." Children with 189 IQs, or who have required a wheel chair all their lives, or who have congenital deafness, or who have grown up a member of a small ethnic minority in a community dominated by large numbers of another ethnic group, or....The list goes on. The feeling of difference is not a "gay thing" but a human thing. It's also not something that requires a lifetime of feeling different; most of us have experienced a kind of isolating difference from time to time as we've moved into new areas of life and have expanded our interaction with the world at large.

    So this personal experience is something we can tap into. The great thing is that our readers will also have had similar experiences.
    T.Allen.Smith likes this.

Share This Page