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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Bi-sexual MC...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Steerpike, Jan 2, 2011.

    In a work-in-progress, the main character is a bisexual female. That wasn't my original intent, but the story took a turn in that direction as I was writing it.

    I've been told by a published author who critiqued some of it for me that both publishers and readers are likely to be put off by this and that it will hinder the chances of publication. The story has a romantic sub-plot, and the critiquer was concerned that few people will be able to identify with the romantic angle because of the bisexuality. Seems to me that as humans, we can all empathize with the universal feelings of love, attraction, etc. If I read a book with a gay protag, I can empathize with the feelings he has in his romantic relationships even though I am not gay, because I am another person with the same emotional attachments, intellect, etc.

    I'm am curious what the forum members think. This is a pretty good cross-section of readership. Two questions:

    1. Would a bisexual character discourage you from reading the story to begin with; and

    2. If you read the story and the romantic elements involved a bisexual MC, would you have a hard time identifying with or empathizing with the MC in terms of her romantic involvements?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    1. Nope, it's actually interesting. Heterosexual relationships are kind of boring.
    2. Nope.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    No it wouldn't bother me and yes I could identify.

    I have an issue I have been told similar with one of my stories there is a particular scene - made me all the more determined to keep it in. I just moved it further down than the third chapter.

    EDIT: Kind of bizarre relationships with otherworldly things like vampires and aliens are fine but other human beings are taboo.
     
  4. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a straight guy it would definitely NOT interfere with enjoying or empathizing with them. In fact chances are I would be more interested in reading your story if I heard the character was a bisexual female...

    But no seriously. I have no problem identifying or even empathize with such a character. Whether its a gay/bisexual male or a lesbian/bisexual female or if they were just straight. Even if it's dealing with love and romance. The way I see it, Love is love. The feelings are always going to be roughly the same. If its the confusion and bieng unsure and scared of this discovery about themselves, I can also empathize. Even though I realy have never gone through that.

    But then again I have always prided myself in being able to empathise with just about anyone. I can stand in someone elses shoes and take a good look. I might not ever fully understand, but I can definitely get a good idea of what it might be like.

    So no. For me that wouldn't be an issue at all. If anything if you were to do it right I would only find myself loving the story and characters all that much more.
     
  5. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Have you ever seen the show Mad Men? Salvatore Romano, the Art Director at Sterling Cooper (the company that the show revolves around), is secretly gay; and because the show is set in the 1960s, he is particularly careful about keeping this a secret from his colleagues (and his wife). One of the many subplots of the show deals with him keeping this a secret and how others react to this.

    He's a great example of a homosexual character whose sexual orientation not only makes his character more interesting but also more identifiable. Even though I'm straight, I find myself sympathizing with him and rooting for him, even identifying with him.
     
  6. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    The sexuality shouldn't define the character; but as long as it's a natural character then I wouldn't mind a characters sexuality.

    There seems to be a horrible trend of poorly written gay characters in books/films/comics/etc. So I tend to scrutinise one more harshly, and I'm quite certain I'm not in the minority. Readers are going to be demanding to know if there's a good, organic reason for making your character homosexual and as long as it's well written, then i see no problem.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, cats. I appreciate it and I'm glad to see the opinions are generally positive.

    @Aeschylus - I am not familiar with that show. I'll look for it.

    @TokyoVigilante - Just curious - why would I need a good, organic reason to make a character homosexual or bisexual any more than I would need a good, organic reason to maker her heterosexual?

    @Elgaisma - Good point about the otherworldly versus actual humans. Kind of comical isn't it?
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think there has to be a given reason. When I found out my characters were gay (ended up with four of them in my first book), my biggest concern was it was to be treated as normal and that there would not be a long protracted discussion about why they were gay. All we need to know is they are in a relationship with another man and that is who they are.

    In fact except for one coming out scene in my first book and when the Crown Prince abdicates, I have never mentioned the fact they are gay - figured it was obvious when he started eyeing up the guy at the end of his bed lol

    It is like it is OK for Captain Jack Harkness to be omnisexual ie he will go with anything that has a hole no matter what the species but they couldn't call him bisexual.
     
  9. Archnenna
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    Archnenna Active Member

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    I would have no trouble reading about a bi character. What matters to me is that it's written well, that I can understand it and everything. I wouldn't have hard time empathizing or identifying with that kind of a character.
     
  10. steveu1970
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    I have to say it wouldn't deter me at all.

    The important thing is that it keeps me interested.

    I would encourage you to find someone that believes in you. It helps keep me going. There will always be something someone wants you to do differently and some tweaks are necessary but you have to keep it your own.

    As a newbie here I need to know if the MC you refer to is a DJ type music term or some other term related to writing, or this forum?
     
  11. WastelandSurvivor
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    I don't find it discouraging in the slightest, and can certainly empathize with characters exploring their emotions whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or something else I haven't read yet. One of the MC's of my novella is actually homosexual, but you don't know it until the end because I didn't want sexuality to make the character. That said, my story doesn't actually have a romantic angle to it.

    As for publication, there are several small presses out there devoted to publishing and promoting work containing GLBT MC's, so you can always try submitting to them ;)
     
  12. Sarah's Mom
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    Sarah's Mom Member

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    Write me a great character and I don't care who she sleeps with.

    Or do what Patricia Cornwell did and I'll hate everything you write.
     
  13. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I agree with your friend, if you're looking for a marketable product.

    I don't know if you're familiar with the concept of "social lying" but its where people lie to look "good" about politically correct topics. For instance, if you approached people on the street, said you were a reporter, and asked, "Do you think this man [shows random picture] who injected himself with AIDS for the fun of it, and is about to have sex with his gay lover, at his request is insane and needs to be institutionalized, or has the right to proceed if he and his friend deny healthcare," most people will respond that he has the right. If the same thing were happening to their family member or they were just watching the interview on TV they'd exclaim "He's crazy!!" People will even lie to seem stereotypically good on anonymous surveys; it's a classic problem in psych studies. So, you may want to base your choice on the cold hard facts about what most people think are admirable qualities.

    Personally, I don't care what people do sexually, but I know from being married that there's a great difference between sexuality and love. Many people, both male, female, etc do what a prison inmate once described to me as "masturbating into each other" and what he meant was narcissistic sex that's about "making someone", "conquering", "putting on a show", and so one. The other brand is devoted love that isn't about probing holes and will be about helping your mate change their adult diaper, getting fat, maybe never having sex, and still loving the person. I don't kno how a person who "loves eveyone" can really love.

    If the reader is looking for a romantic story to energize their feels, they may not find it with such a character. But, if you're writing a picaresque story then people will LOVE the porno fantasy of the character.

    In the end, it's all about what risks you're willing to take, and if you want to go the porno route of the hot and happy bisexual girl or really probe into the psych reasons why a person would develop said behaviors.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't intend to do either of these. The story isn't explicit, and I'm not treating the bisexuality as abnormal or the person as maladjusted and having to deal with psychological problems. The book isn't a "romance," and the romantic subplot is secondary. I'm approaching it as I'd approach a romantic subplot on the part of a heterosexual character, with out any need to explain "why" the character is attracted to the people she is.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would be uninterested in a story ABOUT a bisexual/gay main character, but not in a story about a main character who happens to be bisexual/gay.

    I.e, if it seemed like the book was making a point of the main character being bisexual/gay, I would put it back on the shelf, thinking, "This is probably not my kind of story".
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @steve - MC is "main character"

    @wastelandsurvivor - true, those small presses are an option. I am reluctant to characterize it as GLBT fiction, though, because it seems to me that emphasized the "label" on the MC. The sexuality of the MC in my story is relevant, as anyone's sexuality is an important part of their lives, but it does not define her.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. The latter is what I'm going for. The MC happens to be bisexual. Nothing in the story, apart from the actual sex of her love interests, is going to be any different than if she was heterosexual.
     
  18. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    That's good, but you have to handle it somehow. If you throw it in there, then she's a token bisexual. If she's "hot" and is like a porno sex fantasy, then you've created a "male sex fantasy" which is trite. Homosexuals are a minority and bisexuals are an even greater minority, so I'm want to put some depth and understanding in the character.

    Also, the surface random sexuality is what puts people off because most people are relationship oriented, not sexually oriented, and so depth of character could offset the problem of an unlikeable character.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Hmmm.

    I don't know Allegro. I get what you're saying, but I'm leaning toward just having the sexuality there on the page as part of the character, but not really "handling" it in any way different than I would "handle" a heterosexual relationship. I'm not planning on exploring the issue of sexuality or anything like that. The character is who she is, and her sexuality is a natural and normal part of her life. That's how I want it to appear.

    And she's not promiscuous. She's a scientist, and she's an intelligent and grounded individual. There are two conflicting love interests in the story - two people she likes for different reasons. But she's not just hitting the sack with them or with random people.
     
  20. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    As you can tell from what I've written I don't exactly think a bisexual is grounded due to the "whatever" quality of the behavior. If I'm correct (I may not be) then the character is a token character with a trendy build.

    Example: When I was a kid, they made GI Joes, the big ones, in white and black models. That was cool, but the black guys had white doll features with brown paint. Just the same, many black characters in comics, novels, and movies were "white people" because they were written by whites who didn't understand the unique psychology of, especially, black Americans.

    Just to make it clear, I have a very strong belief that all people are of equal value, but psychologically I'm a Phenomenologist. That terms means that everyone's mind is a unique snowflake, so to speak. While that is true, the minds in various groups have commonalities in spite of their differences.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree.

    I think we look at the issue from two different perspectives. You appear to believe that a bisexual character has to be abnormal in some way that has to be further explored or explained. My premise is that this is not the case and that such a character can be perfectly normal without having to explore hangups or psychological issues resulting from her sexuality.

    It looks to me like you think a character who is not heterosexual cannot be presented as simply a normal person without becoming a token (as opposed to a real person). It seems like there is a negative value judgment at work; something telling you that a person who is not heterosexual has to be defined by their sexuality in a way that they can't just be portrayed as a normal person whose sexuality is not a big deal.
     
  22. MsLee123
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    If it's a good story, it's a good story. Whether the MC is bisexual or not shouldn't make a difference. Although I'm a straight woman I don't think it would be hard to relate either. The only way I could see it being a tad difficult is if the whole story is centered on her bisexuality and the hardships she faces with trying to be accepted or trying to decide whether she really is or what have you. That would only be kind of hard to relate to because I personally have never been through such a thing, though I could empathize with someone who was having that struggle.
     
  23. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I think you're a little insulted and are now becoming insulting.

    I said what I said and explained it very clearly, so there's no need to draw conclusions about what I think, because I will be happy to tell you.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think you drew the wrong conclusions about what I said if you were insulted by something I said. But you don't have to explain your viewpoint further if you don't wish to. I started this thread to get general feedback, the additional discussion is just an interesting aside.
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, this appears to be the general consensus. The bisexuality isn't a focal point and isn't an issue except insofar as the romantic subplot is concerned. It becomes an issue there, but that's about it.
     
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