1. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    More Diversity In Relationship Dynamics?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Oscar Leigh, Jan 23, 2016.

    So, I have a good number of different ideas, and most of them have an m/m couple somewhere. Something I've become worried about is the fact all of them have a clear assertive/submissive dynamic. There are no versatiles. Should this be something I fix? Or am I worry too much about making characters diverse? I do like diverse characters but how does that matter in the end? Is it better to preserve a good concept if it works?
     
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  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Have you written any of these ideas into stories yet? If not, I'd advise you to begin actually writing them down. Start with the characters as you see them now, but don't be surprised if they evolve. Give them things to say, things to do, situations to cope with, and I think you'll find your black/white assertive/submissive dynamic might not be quite as simple as you think.
     
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  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'm not saying it's entirely black and white in the interactions. There are plenty of layers, and the way the dynamic of assertive/submissive is decided is different. And I have started to write a lot of this stuff down to at least a small degree or another.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    When I think of the couples I know, there usually isn't a clear submissive/assertive dynamic. There is in some of them, but certainly not all.

    If this feels right to you then I'd go with it, but not make it straightforward. Have some role reversals - maybe Dave is assertive in his relationship, but at work he's sucking up to the boss. Maybe Fred is submissive at home, until Dave touches a nerve, and then he can shut Dave up with a well-aimed barb.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's definitely a market for D/s m/m romance, and it's a pretty good marketing strategy to pick one "style" of relationship to present to readers and become known for that style. So, from a book-selling perspective, I don't see a problem.

    I don't think you're presenting a balanced, realistic world-view, but I'm not sure that's really required in order to sell books.

    So I'd say you need to look at your goals, and take it from there.

    ETA: Possibly you're not talking about going all the way to D/s status for your characters, in which case... still not an issue for sales, I wouldn't say. Possibly a bit more difficult to create realistic conflict between your characters, though? I'm not sure.

    And possibly you're not writing romance... the "m/m" terminology may have thrown me off. If it's not romance, but the gay relationship is a significant part of the book, you may be writing LGBT literature, and I think you might run into more issues from actual gay readers who feel like you're perpetuating stereotypes? I'm not sure about that part.
     
  6. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    I don't think he means in sexual terms, I think he means one partner who outwardly appears to be 'wearing the trousers' (so making decisions about jobs and money) while the other is more supportive and follows along.

    I don't see a problem at all with having this (apparent) relationship dynamic in books. It's a bit shallow but if you aren't focusing on the relationship as a story point then it's fine to use as a base. Sure, you want to make it a bit deeper, showing that (as tends to happen) this dynamic is more of an appearance than reality and the 'dominant' partner will almost always talk to the other about all the big decisions. His personality might make him be pushy or even manipulative, but in loving relationships one person will make the final decision only after they got their partners consent. All relationships have some give and some take, but in truth far from 'opposites attract' mostly people are attracted to people with similar personalities to themselves which means that both sides understand pretty well when they are allowed to be in charge and when the let their partner take the lead. For me and my fiance all her friends think she wears the trousers, all my friends think I do. The truth is that we make big decisions together and are happy to support each other working on whatever else we want to do.

    Don't worry at all about perpetuating stereotypes. Seriously. Just don't. That's an unending rabbit hole.

    Put together characters that feel real to you. If they feel like real people then just forget about stereotypes and all this representative nonsense. Your job as a writer is to write your story. If you have a nice, well rounded character who happens to be a flamboyant gay guy then that's fine. It he's a well developed character with more to him than just a feather boa, then yeah, not a problem. The important part is making good characters, not making characters that play up to whatever progressive nonsense is popular today. No, not all gay guys are flamboyant and have weird kinks and sleep with any guy they see. But you aren't writing a book about all gay guys. You are writing about one or two gay guys who can be many things. If you wrote about a gay male serial killer that doesn't imply that all gay men are serial killers or that this character is somehow damaging a community or perpetuating anything in particular. Playing these silly identity politics games is nonsense. What matters is who a character is and the content of their character. What doesn't matter is what 'disadvantages' groups they are in.

    And I know that's not what this is really about but this is one of those things that really pisses me off in the modern day. I had someone once tell me 'I loved what you wrote but why isn't this character black?'. Not 'I felt maybe he'd be a more interesting character if he came at his job with a different cultural view point'. Just 'Why isn't he black?'. As if he was supposed to be black and I was doing the world a disservice by writing about a white guy.

    Don't worry about it at all.
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I totally disagree that we don't have any responsibility to be aware of stereotypes and how they may be perpetuated by our work, but I'm not interested in debating it with the background of "Just don't", "representative nonsense", "progressive nonsense" and "silly identity politics games".

    Not much point, right?
     
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  8. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    I said exactly the opposite of that.

    I said writers should not create characters who are stereotypes instead creating complex, deep, well fleshed out people. A character who is complex, deep and well fleshed out cannot be a stereotype, and assuming you have reached that level of writing you shouldn't worry about anyone saying you are representing anyone poorly.

    If you think 'a character with both positives and negatives, with well formed opinions and views and a unique voice' can be taken as a bad representation of anyone then I don't know what to say to you.

    We should avoid using stereotypes because they are bad writing, not because a cultural marxist tells us we're sexist for doing so. We aren't obliged to represent anyone in any particular way, we aren't obliged to fit anyone else's ideas of the world. We are just obliged to tell our stories well. And if you want to tell me why anyone should change their vision just because someone else believes we need more characters with characteristic X, the only answer I can give you is this: Why aren't the people complaining the ones writing those stories? Why is it the duty of us to change our stories than of them to create their own?
     
  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    To be clear to everyone, I mean that the sex dynamic is a clear top/bottom and there is usually some reflection of that in their interaction in some way. I'm not talking about BDSM or any bossing around.
    Here an example: Etho is a very charismatic, independent personality while Ikarun is shy, quieter and more nervous. However, Etho supports him and is not at all inconsiderate to his opinion, they are still equals.
     
  10. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Well, that's not really an assertive/submissive dynamic, assuming they're pretty balanced power-wise and Ikarun has somewhat of a life outside of Etho. When I hear assertive/submissive, I think of something like Twilight. One person being more outgoing doesn't really make them more assertive in a relationship, anyway.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Until you've written a few of these stories, I don't see any need to try to change the dynamic.

    It may be that there's something in this dynamic that you need to write, and that when you write it a few times from a few different angles, you'll naturally find other ideas bubbling up. It may not, but it may be that that dynamic works just fine for your stories forever. Or it may be that you get tired of it. But I see no need to look ahead to that point
     
  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    What I meant is that there's two distinct roles that repeat in the couples, not that's there's something kinky or aggressive about their interaction. As I said, it's more of a top/bottom thing that I'm talking about. "The guy/girl in the relationship" , for lack of a better phrase. It's not much more than a nuance but it feels too repetitive. I suppose though, there is one couple I have that is not really like this. The sexual aspect goes one way, but I think the personality element kind of goes the other. I'm not entirely sure how to judge it but maybe they'd be an exception. So maybe it's fine?
     
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you have a distinct genre you're writing in?

    But, really, I agree with @ChickenFreak - it makes sense to write a few of these before worrying too much about ALL of them.
     
  14. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I realised I haven't responded to what you said here. First off, there's nothing d/s about it, to say again. Secondly, two of the things are romance as a genre and for the rest romance is just a theme/plot point. Thirdly, "actual gay readers"; are you implying I'm not? And you assumed that why? Just because it's majority to be straight? Seems kind of hypocritical for someone worried about the LGBT community. And fourth, the depiction of negative stereotypes is somewhat of a worry when in numerous characters which begins to create a sense of promotion, but this is not a stereotype and not negative.

    A general comment to the discussion. I've just realised I missed one couple that is very much not this. They probably both top and bottom, little own having a personality dynamic like that.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I meant "actual gay readers" as in "not m/m romance readers", most of whom are female and more-or-less straight.
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Anyone know how to do a poll? There was a poll option when I started the thread but I don't know how to do it now, I'm new. Help.
     
  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Indeed. The yaoi girldom is real. I have been exposed to this. It's like with straight guys watching lesbian porn.
     
  18. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Ooh, I actually should have responded to this earlier. Yes, that's kind of what goes on actually. For example: Simon is significantly more aggressive, but sometimes it is necessary for Lawrence to direct and calm him in the emotion states he sometimes gets. Lawrence is more soft-spoken, but doesn't have Simon's insecurities. Overall, the dynamics are clear, but I don't mean one is the boss and the other is like a 50's housewife.
     
  19. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Okay, the more I read from you,the more I wonder, why are you even concerned? Honestly, in 85% of all books/relationships, one partner will be more outgoing or assertive. It's been done a million times, but it can still be new and interesting. Your writing is almost entirely what you make of it.
     
  20. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    That's where I'm leaning. I think I overestimated the problem, both in missing a few exceptions, and in the necessity to change. But I'd like to do a poll on a question I have first. I repeat: I can't seem to find how to poll this thread. Could somebody tell me?
     
  21. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I'm fairly certain one cannot go back to set up the survey. It'd have to be done before launching.
     
  22. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh, that explains things. Damn.
     
  23. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Okay, I'll ask this manually. To each of you, how many couples do you know that you feel have a clear top/bottom dynamic evident in their personalities? A) none. B) a minority. C) about half. D) a majority.
     
  24. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Okay, I will reiterate: one person being more outgoing or masculine, or one person being shy or nervous does not give them a top bottom dynamic.
     
  25. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I mean top/bottom in no kinky or bossy way, I repeat. I just mean one has a more obvious form of power while the other doesn't have their aggression/confidence. And I don't mean exactly that comparison you're using there. To go back to Simon and Lawrence, one of my favourite couples, Lawrence is not shy or nervous. He's just more calm, reserved and gentle. As I mentioned, Simon is actually the one with insecurities, despite his masculine charisma and superior strength.
     

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