Writing Non-Heterosexual Characters

I’ve never really set out to write a character specifically to be diverse or to fill a certain status quo or whatever. I exclusively write characters who “come” to me in one way or another, I really hate forcing characters who I can’t picture clearly in my head onto paper. They never come off as real that way.

Anyway, 99% of my characters end up being heterosexual. Not for any specific reason, because I definitely don’t consciously choose their preference, that’s just who the characters are. I might be the writer, but anyone who writes knows that characters tend to have minds of their own. They choose for themselves. But, every so often, I think about characters who aren’t heterosexual, and writing them always ends up being a curious process. 

Let me back up a bit.

In high school sexuality didn’t matter to me. It still doesn’t, but back then I had the habit of seeing things as male or female because that’s just how things are divided. It’s like that in most cases. Hence, when I started writing back then, I tended to write my characters as heterosexual without really realizing it. And in some instances, it ended up being that the reason some of my characters weren’t working the way I wanted was because I was forcing them into an identity that they weren’t. But now I see things differently and am able to let my characters be who they actually are.

An example of this would be Arianne from Desolace. I originally wrote her as a straight female, in a relationship with a male. However, while this worked for some parts of the story, it was not satisfying several plot points that I planned. Of course, I never realized that this was the problem, and me being unable to resolve these plot issues was part of the reason I put the project on hold. 

But now, having looked at it from a different perspective, I’ve realized that the problems in these plot points have arisen because Arianna’s motives weren’t in line with her true character. So once I figured that out, her real character came to light, and since then a lot of these plot points have made so much more sense. 
I don’t think that writing non-heterosexual characters is much different from those who are. The essence of creating a character remains the same across the board, and the desires of characters are almost always different from person to person in the first place. It’s just a different kind of difference. 

~Erynn

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3 thoughts on “Writing Non-Heterosexual Characters

  1. Interesting points; I’d never thought of that before. Any creative writing I’ve ever done has always had a heterosexual protagonist, mainly because I’m a heterosexual and that’s what my brain turns to.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with exploring different types of character, but I think sexuality only really matters if there’s a love story. I wouldn’t particularly care if the character I was reading about was gay or straight, unless their sexuality specifically mattered within the plot. Nice post! 🙂
    https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

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    • Hey, thanks. I agree that it doesn’t really matter much unless the character is involved in some sort of romance. I do think that character identity as a whole, though, is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sexuality at all. As a writer, the more details you know about your character, the more lifelike they will appear on the page. All the little details that the author knows don’t necessarily make it into the story, they just serve to give the writer a better idea of who it is that they’re actually writing.

      In my case, with Arianne and Desolace, all of this kind of comes into play. There isn’t really a romance in Desolace. There was a romantic relationship between Arianne and another key character at some point in the timeline, but that took place before the story I’m writing took place. Arianne’s sexuality/ identification does matter for the aftermath of all that, though, because her identification changed from that point to the story’s “present” and the other character is not aware of this. It’s a strange way for sexuality to be involved in the plot, and it’s not something I’ve ever tried to do before, but I thought it was a pretty neat way for something generally subtle and in the background to change the flow of events.

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