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Are readers/audiences open to sudden bisexuality?

  1. If Korra did it, so can I

    45.0%
  2. No, keep it simple and consistent - straight or gay

    5.0%
  3. Depends on context and execution

    50.0%
  1. AmeliePoptart
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    AmeliePoptart New Member

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    Straight Characters Naturally Becoming Bisexual (against the author's plans)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AmeliePoptart, May 22, 2015.

    Hi guys -- long time browser, first time registering/posting.

    I have seen a few threads that touch on what I want to talk about, but they don't exactly hit the nail on the head.

    I am currently writing my second novel in a 5-part series, and just planning to myself exactly how things are going to unfold (I know the main plot points, and had a general idea of what couple situations would be like), and I am starting to worry that my characters are naturally going in a direction I do not want them to go.

    First case: My male protagonist and his best friend seem to be the only couple that makes sense. Each have a respective female love interest, but I always knew that neither of them would end up "getting the girl". In a weird twist, these two seem to be the only emotionally functioning duo -- but having said that, I know that the "alpha" one would never initiate anything, nor would he consciously act on any bisexual tendencies; and my protagonist would be waiting for his friend to initiate anything before feeling comfortable. It's a weird issue of.... logically they would be too unwilling to act on anything, but they are so drawn together and have a great connection.

    Second case: The male protagonist's girlfriend has some serious angry/sexual tension with another heterosexual girl. This other girl (who is the protagonist of a side series) has a WHOLE other storyline going on: she gets engaged to her long-term high school boyfriend, only to end up breaking off the engagement in the last book and finally going off to establish herself as an independent person who isn't defined by the people in her life.

    For the MP's girlfriend, she is a conservative Christian. For the other girl, I know that at this point in her life, the only person she has eyes for is her boyfriend, she is extremely loyal and would never cheat on him, or have sex with someone she does not have a deep level of emotional intimacy.

    Overall, I just feel like these 3 characters (not so much the other girl, she seems to be pretty focused on her boyfriend) are naturally drawn to the wrong people I had in mind for them. Should I just let these relationships unfold, regardless of the end point I had in mind, of can I get away with having is as an ambiguous subtext?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does your plot demand? And how much of your book space do you want to spend on this?

    Are you planning on actually showing the characters as bisexual (like, depicting two relationships for each character, one same-sex, one opposite-sex) or just giving up on the opposite-sex relationships and showing only the same-sex ones? Either way, with this many characters, you're going to be spending quite a bit of time on relationship stuff. If you take the first option and depict two romances per character, your book is either going to be very, very long or you're going to be spending a hell of a lot of it on relationship stuff. Is that what you want to write?
     
  3. AmeliePoptart
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    AmeliePoptart New Member

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    I wouldn't say that the romance is a main focus - but relationships as a whole are important to the story (for context, this is a speculative fiction series, and I want to show how people can rely on each other for support, or grow apart, or clash in general when faced with serious challenges). So, that is to say, relationships are there and affect character development and plot progression, but there is a bigger issue being focused on.

    (think, if Avengers Age of Ultron, a film which tried to explore the concept of a superhero team's internal conflicts, had elements of psychological realism)
     
  4. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I'd say go with them being bisexual. You can do a lot of exploring and creating intricate relationships, and if you say relationships are important to the story, than I think that's evident enough.

    Being a bisexual myself (I'm not going to speak for all of us), it can be hard to mentally tie myself to a relationship. There are days where I wake up and am only interested in men, and some days where I'm interested in women. I consider them phases, because most of the time I'm equally attracted to men and women. So yeah, there's a lot you can do with a bisexual character, relationship-wise.
     
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  5. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    I'm also bisexual, and I sometimes switch between being interested in men and women based solely on seeing someone of the relevant sex that I find attractive, and sometimes even seemingly randomly. I do tend to think bisexuals are under-represented in media, so I would always say to make a character bisexual if you think it works for that character.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
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  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Speaking generally, in my experience it's better to go where the story takes you, rather than force it down a route you'd planned. I did that once - eg. I forced the story down the route I'd planned - and ended up with something that didn't connect together at all with the first half and second half looking like they're different books :bigfrown: It's not worth that sorta rewrite when you could've just done it right and gone where your gut/characters/story naturally told you to go in the first place.

    Trust your gut. It's usually right.
     
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  7. AmeliePoptart
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    AmeliePoptart New Member

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    Okay -- thanks guys. I definitely see the main male protagonist as coming to terms with bisexuality more readily (or, gender isn't an issue for him, more he becomes attracted to people who make him feel comfortable/stable/wanted/cared for whatever). The only issue for that would be his stubborn friend, who I really don't see being able to consciously accept bisexual tendencies.

    I do also fear that by developing this, I could be at risk of "fan-servicing" (ala Supernatural with Dean and Castiel). What are the views on this? Is alluding to a bisexual relationship, and either having no pay-off or a resistant partner, at risk of pissing off readers? I have to stay true to the characters, but also have to give satisfactory results to readers.

    Regarding the two female characters... I think it's best to just leave it as is, with an angry, ambiguous tension between them (similar to Buffy and Faith). Subtext.
     
  8. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I've never been a fan of the term fan service. Fifty years ago, it would have been considered fan service to have a black character and a white character kiss. The term needs to be thrown out, because it treats the aforementioned character/trait as if it's not worthy of existence unless it has a huge impact on the story. Bisexuals, gays, blacks, and other various minorities all exist in the world naturally, and those traits may never have an impact in their life. I've never felt the urge to come out as a bisexual, it's had little to no impact on my life, I simply am. If a character can be straight without ever having to enter a relationship, than a character can be gay without ever having to be used as a plot device. Writing for readers can be a bad idea (as weird as it sounds), because all of us are going to have our own opinions and biases which will make everyone one of us interpret your story in a different way. It's best to just write for yourself, do what you feel is best, and live with the 'consequences'. If you're writing a story about a gay guy, than the opinion of a homophobe shouldn't have any impact on what you're doing. Hopefully that helps.
     
  9. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    For stuff like that I tend to take the view that the people it would piss off probably aren't people who I would bothered if they didn't read my story.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't been in this exact situation, but are you asking cos you aren't straight so you can't be sure how it works for us?

    I'm not even sure if straight people exist and whether or not we all have some bisexual tendencies, it'd just require meeting the "right" person.

    Either way, I'd suggest you go where your characters take you if your initial plot plans now feel like they don't work.

    As for fan service or whatever, my suggestion is to not worry too much what others think. Don't feel compelled to include or leave out stuff just because of someone elses's demands.

    And since I'm a straight chick, I sure wouldn't have a problem with two guys getting it on :p. Two girls; that's of course fine too. :)

    It's also possible some of your characters don't hook up at all. Romance isn't a necessary element, unless it's a romance novel.
     
  11. AmeliePoptart
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    AmeliePoptart New Member

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    Umm, no. I am straight, and in a long-term relationship. I just wanted to get a broader opinion from unbiased but knowledgeable people. And if the majority are accepting of bisexuality, then I can only assume publishers will be too.
     
  12. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    I think most of them have such a huge preference for the opposite sex that it's still more useful to think of them as straight than bi, but the fact that many heterosexuals respond better to attractive members of their own gender than average-looking ones makes me suspect that this is true on some level.

    It's the difference between a 95% preference and a pure, 100 to 0 divide.
     
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  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, I must've been sleepy when I read your OP cos I thought you also asked about plausibility. My bad.

    Anyway, I think it will be well-received if it's well written. I don't think queer themes would nowadays be met with overwhelming negativity. Sure, there will always be people who complain like some did e.g. about Dumbledore or the TV show, Black Sails. You should also trust your writer's instinct, "ok, this feels like the right thing, I'll go for this". I'm not a fan of pandering to the masses, so I encourage doing your own thing (sure, some genres have rules and formulae I guess, but I doubt apart from the Christian genre, bisexuality would be a problem).
     
  14. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I think as long as it reads as a natural step in the character's growth, and not something that came out of nowhere, it would be well received.
    Also, two people can have an emotionally intimate relationship without a sexual component.
     
  15. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    Exactly. See the definition of "Bromance" or what TVTropes calls a "Romantic Two Girl Friendship".
     
  16. AmeliePoptart
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    AmeliePoptart New Member

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    They're definitely a bromance - or, have a close brotherly bond, and that is intentional. I just see them developing a closer bond in future (after they're affected by external drama), and that's what's concerning me. I've mentally planned how they're going to be with their respective girlfriends by the series conclusion, and I'm happy with that ending. But, yeah, as I said - they're naturally coming together in a way I did not anticipate, but it's so natural.
     
  17. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    They can have a romantic relationship that doesn't involve sex ( one or both could be biromantic heterosexual even ) or just have the sexual elements develop really slowly or imply that the sexual stuff takes place outside of this context.

    Also, if your characters are naturally coming together, readers will see that, too. You could leave it subtextual but I don't see a lot of bisexuals in media. ( and it always seems to be 'I've always liked women but I just had sex with a dude I must be gay' and no one has ever heard of the word bisexual )
     
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  18. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    It would also help if you laid the groundwork early on. A few offhand comments or observations which, at the time, don't seem all that significant but give the reader an "aha" moment later on.
     
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  19. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never understood the "against the author's plans" stuff, you write the book, you control everything in it. If it goes somewhere its by your design.

    On a more important note, I wouldn't assume the general public/publishers share the same opinion as the folks here. This crowd can be a bit too "PC" at times.

    If i related to a MC and they started showing bisexual tendencies, would it put me off? probably. I cant relate so i think i'd lose some of that connection.
     
  20. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I hardly think we're PC considering we're telling OP to disregard the opinions of the general public. Being PC would be telling her to take into account the feelings of others as to not offend anyone. If a main character killed somebody to advance the plot, would that also put you off? :p
     
  21. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Honestly, LGBT stuff is still too controversial for support of it to fall neatly under the banner of "political correctness", at least as far as the US is concerned. Waving the gay (or bi) pride flag in the presence of many conservatives here is not "politically correct" at all. It's one of the most politically incorrect things you could possibly do in that environment.
     
  22. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe we have different ideas of PC, what i meant was that this forum doesn't in my opinion and experience reflect the general public. The tolerance (perhaps a better word) is higher here than it is in the public eye. Most people i know would say sure a book with a bi main character, or something of that ilk is ok, but they probably wouldn't buy it.

    I think that opinion is generally echoed through most of the general public, hence why i can only think a handful of successful films and tv programs that have bi or whatever characters in them. If the public are less accepting, then sure the publisher would want to steer clear too? public buying the books after all.
     
  23. Woof
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    Woof Contributing Member

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    Seems like you've got most of this sorted but I thought it worth echoing that you don't necessarily need to write sexuality in. With enough emotional intimacy, people will see what they want to see. Look at young Jane and Helen at Lowood Institution in Jane Eyre: That is love, but the type of love is defined by who you are as much as what is written. I read it as a friendship, but others I know have read it as a first crush and wilfully found themselves reflected in the literature they adore.

    It would be interesting, perhaps, to think about whether it's possible to write the characters without gender assignations first and then decide them (and therefore what sexuality they are) afterwards. It might flag up a few interesting things? Of course it might also be a bit of a nightmare writing without gendered pronouns, but interesting nonetheless!
     
  24. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If publishers aren't accepting of bisexual characters, then not enough authors are writing bisexual characters. We should get started on that.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't my experience at all. I can only think of a handful of people who would shy away from a book b/c it had a bisexual character in it. Probably roughly the same number of people who would shy away from books because they're fantasy, or "too long", or a romance, or whatever other weird preferences/prejudices people have.

    Different social milieus, obviously. Anecdotal experiences on both our parts, maybe just cancel each other out?
     

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