1. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    On non-plot related characteristics.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by hszmv, Nov 27, 2009.

    The main character in a action/sci-fi story I'm working on is a bisexual male. Now, to me at least, it seems you cannot have a bisexual character without him/her being romantically linked to a member of the same sex OR cheating on a member of the opposite sex (I'm looking at that girl from Dodgeball for my latter observation). Both of those charactristics are not where I want to take this character.

    His romantic relationships are not a big factor in the story (no character's relationships are, mostly because I suck at writing romance) and as of yet, I have yet to create a character I would like to pair with him and is kinda a prude when compared to other characters. He just looks at boys as much as he looks at girls.

    My question is, does his sexuality need to be mentioned at all? Or should I drop subtle hints, but never out-right confirm that he is? I'll be damned if I ever write a "strong [insert minority here] character". I always write my characters as "just happening to be [insert minority here]" and this character will be bi in my mind, whether or not I say so in the story.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If he is your token bisexual, then you will probably offend. If his sexual orientation is irrelevant, leave it out.

    No one would probably have known or noticed that Dumbledore was gay if Jo Rowling hadn't mentioned it in an interview.
     
  3. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    I don't do "token" characters. When I make a character, I try to do a "pick a random person off the street" feel to my charactization, rather than a "okay, I need a minority". I don't want to use it as an excuse to make angst or off-color comedy. He just is. And I wouldn't pull a Rowling and reveal it if it wasn't in the story.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ok. But if a characteristic has no relevance to the story, why define it at all? Why constrain your character, especially if there is any chance you will use him or her in another story?

    I would particularly emphasize this if it is not a trait easily identified by a casual observer. You might pass a stranger in the street and notice his curly red hair with a balding area on top, but unless you are someone who feels the need to exercise his "gaydar", you won't notice his sexual orientation unless he is taking part in an activity that draws attention to it.
     
  5. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Just remember that you’re writing fiction and not a biography. If it is irrelevant to the plot then cut it. If it is relevant to the plot, then there should be no question as to how to reveal it.

    The first bisexual character I can think of is Biagio in The Grand Design by John Marco. It is only mentioned briefly, and it is related to the plot in relation to the excesses that the character is indulging in with his drug habit, and otherwise it would never have been mentioned. Also, one of the main themes of The Grand Design is morality and sin, though in what light is completely left to the reader.
     
  6. WanderingStar
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    WanderingStar Member

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    I think it would be interesting if you showed, vs told, that he was bi-sexual.

    For some men it would make them uncomfortable to be in certain situations, if they are straight- such as being around another male while he is changing, going to a club where men are dancing etc..

    So if you were able to write into the story a scene in which your character didn't show any hesitation at all in being in a situation in which most straight men would feel uncomfortable, as well as showing him have an interest in the ladies- it would give the reader the idea of his sexual preference.

    It could be related to the story- people do like to feel as if they know a character. Even sci-fi has sexual undertones at times, so it is possible you could work it in while continuing the development of the plot.
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It really depends on how you bring up these sorts of things. I see nothing wrong with using a diverse cast, culturally or in sexual orientation etc. I make my characters obviously Jewish all the time, and rarely do Jewish characters just exist in books. They have to be dealing with issues within Jewish culture or antisemitism. In my novel that I am working on at the moment, she is obviously Jewish. Aspects like the holidays, Sabbath and Kashrut all come up at different points, but being Jewish has nothing to do with the story. It just occurs naturally.

    As for including characters of a variety of sexual orientation, if you can insert it in a natural way, without it looking like a "token" character and it isn't part of the story, I say do it. I once read a book with a lesbian, and she did not feel like a token character. She just talked about her partner a few times and it happened to be a woman. Remember than the aspect that makes them a minority is not their whole identity, and they are all individuals, so I don't see how it constrains them. These people are involved in events in which these aspects are visible, but are not part of the conflicts in their lives. Why shouldn't they be in fiction visibly when that aspect is not a part of the conflict?
     
  8. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    For a main character, I think you have to ask yourself "why is this important?". If you're story has little or nothing to do with that character's sexuality, as you said, you might just want to leave it out. If it's important to you, go for it, but most readers are going to be expecting a heterosexual main character. That means they're going to wonder why your main character is bisexual when it doesn't seem to affect the story at all. They probably shouldn't (I mean, why couldn't Frodo have been bisexual in Lord of the Rings? Would it have mattered?), but they will. That's why you might be better off just going with what people are going to expect.
     
  9. hszmv
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    I get that they will try to look for a reason why he's bi when it doesn't affect the story one iota. In many ways, that's the reason why he is bi. His sexuality has no direct effect on why he is the hero. If I overtly state (in the book, mind you. Not going to pull a Rowling) that he is, and people ask me why this character is bisexual, I want my answer to be "Why not?"
     
  10. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    I agree with Cogito. If his relationships are irrelevant to the story why go there? You can mention it in passing, maybe he checks someone out and then explains that he doesn't have a preference between men and women (or what that preference tends to be if he does) and leave it there. It's just another facet of the character that is only as relevant as you make it.
     
  11. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    To make the character believable you need to know thwm, if this means one of your characters being Bi, why does it matter. I wold mention it in passing, or get the character drunk, nad have him ramble on about some past relationships or something like that, or what Star said, put him in a situation that most straight guys would be uncomfortable in but have him cheaking out gals as well. There are many ways you could do it, just do it well or it might take the ttention from the main plot of the story.

    Fantasy Girl xx
     
  12. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's irrelevant, then it's irrelevant. If forcing it in, it seems like making it special just for the sake of being special. What I call fluff.

    I only think it would be relevant in a romantic conflict.
     
  13. sidtvicious
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    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it doesn't play an important role and the story, just don't right out say it. I mean I can't see any major problems arising in dropping subtle hints with behavior or certain things he notices in people, though. Sexuality will be part of the character, and if you think of him as bi, chances are it will come out in some way or another. Yet, for the sake of the story, i'd avoid anything too specific.
     
  14. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    Sound advice. There's no problem with dropping hints to his sexuality, just don't make it the focus of the story.

    One more thing I would like to add: drop the hints early! Like I said before, people are going to assume a heterosexual character, so if he suddenly starts acting bi halfway through the story, they're going to feel jarred. Make sure they have reason to suspect he's bisexual quickly after he's introduced, otherwise you risk throwing your readers for a trip.
     
  15. NyeLew
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    NyeLew Member

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    My own personal feeling on this is that it quite simply doesn't matter. There are characters in my current novel who are lesbians. It's only mentioned once, and then only because the main character has a totally different idea as to what they're up to in his head.

    If it's nothing to do with the plot you should just not stick it in. If it serves no purpose at all then it's extraneous and you're just using it to fill space. Use it on something useful.
     
  16. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    In the movie, Miss Congenieallty, the one of the characters is gay. I watched the movie at least ten times, and did not realize this until my mother pointed it out. I sugguest you watch the movie for review. It's actually quite interesting, because to get one of the guys pack the backstage, the guy calls him "Muffin". This is when you realize, "Oh my goodness, he IS gay... I was right!"

    So, yes, you can defenetly do it this way. I would be interested in reading it, in fact, becuase I agree, they ALWAYS seem to have to be romantically involved...

    Good luck!
     

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