August 10th, 2014 — August 16th, 2014
The Weekly Round-Up is a collection of questions from our inbox which can be answered in one hundred words or fewer. These posts are intended to keep your dashboard clutter-free while we address a few of the anonymous questions we receive each week. If you don’t want to see these at all (understandable) then blacklist the tag “writeworld weekly roundup”.
1) Bisexual males. Putting this type of character at the top of my list comes from my own bias of being bisexual, but whatever. It’s impossible to find bisexual male characters, especially in speculative fiction. They’re mostly limited to romance novels. I’m not too big a fan of romance novels though, especially m/m romance. Most of it is written by women, but the problem isn’t that it’s written by women. The problem is that it becomes the female fantasy of what they imagine/want m/m romance to be, which ends up being unrealistic and a constant cycle of Super Hunk Male Love Interest and Shy Reluctant Male Love Interest as the main characters.
I just want some bisexual male characters in speculative fiction. And I really don’t want them to be a villain because bisexual characters, no matter their gender, tend to be cunning trickster villains. Please stop with that. Portraying the majority of bisexual characters as deceitful, cunning, tricky, and untrustworthy villains perpetuates stereotypes and misconceptions.
2) Male characters with insecurities relating to something other than a skill. Every time I come across male characters who are able to admit they’re insecure about something, their concerns are always about not being good enough with a sword or not being able to throw a football far enough.
Let your male characters be worried about their hair, their weight, their voice, their body hair, their scars, their ability to talk to people, their intelligence, their future, how others perceive them, their friends, their pets, or whether their friends still like them.
3) First person POV male protagonists who aren’t 90% angst. I’ve read too many Holden Caulfields and too many self-insert male characters who are used as a way for the male author to complain about his youth and some girl.
4) Intelligent male characters who don’t fall into the only two intelligent male characters that seem to exist in fiction:
5) Male characters who are more like the male characters from Freaks and Geeks. Honestly, of all the books I’ve read and of all the shows and movies I’ve seen, books, movies, and shows that take place in the seventies or eighties seem to have the most realistic male characters no matter when those stories were actually written. They’re well rounded, they change, they have flaws, they’re different from one another, and they don’t all look like supermodels. They tend to capture teenage relationships better than more recent YA does.
6) Male characters, particularly in pre-industrial fantasy, who want to get married, and for reasons unrelated to politics or to the pretty princess they saw that one time for five minutes. Most of the male characters (in fantasy) I come across who end up in a marriage are indifferent about it, do it because they want to produce an heir, do it because their parents arranged it, or elope with someone they’ve only known for a couple of months or even a couple of weeks.
Bring in some male characters who look forward to marriage and love, even before they get in a relationship and even when they they’re not crushing on anyone.
7) I feel like, especially in sci-fi, that when that typical new team member is introduced (often in a series), they’re always hated at first by both the reader and the other characters because that happens whenever someone new comes in to take a new position or to replace someone else. I also feel like most of these characters are female, which isn’t fair given that female characters are already under more scrutiny just for being female. Introduce some male characters in this role. Make them infiltrate a familiar place to your readers and characters. Let them take some of the roles that are automatically annoying.
8) Non heterosexual men who are comfortable with their sexuality. I’m so sick of stories where one man is super comfortable and the other is shy and unsure of his sexuality or if he wants to have a sexual experience yet. The comfortable character always coerces the uncomfortable character into sex or the author uses sex as a way to make the uncomfortable character’s problems go away. One minute he’s crying and the next he’s kissing the other guy and suddenly everything is okay.
9) Non heterosexual men who vary in appearance. We’re not all just a bunch of twinks or oiled up hairless hunks. You may say, “I know you don’t all look like that!” but I have met a surprising number of people who don’t know that. Not everyone in the world is up to date with the gay community. There are tons of people who have a hard time imagining a gay/bi/pan man as being anything other than a young, thin, attractive white male with a good fashion sense.
10) Related to the one above, I want to see gay men who don’t fit gay stereotypes and who aren’t used for comic relief. Writers love to introduce a character who is overweight, who is old (40+ years), who is masculine, who is hairy, etc., only to have them come out at the perfect moment for some comedy. It comes off as that person is gay? Haha, so funny!
Gardeners and architects are the two kinds of writers, as described by George R. R. Martin.
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house … They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up … The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed, and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if they’ve planted a fantasy seed or a mystery seed … But as the plant grows up, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have: they find out as it grows.
Basically, architects are planners and gardeners are free writers.
The Snowflake Method is a planning method for writers. I recently tried the Snowflake Method for my own novel and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I would recommend writers trying it at least.
Writers have been hearing about the importance of “showing” for so long that they’ve begun to forget the value of “telling”—of exposition, of summary, of omniscient narration.
If you’ve got something worth showing, then by all means show it. If it’s dramatic action, let us see it happen. If it’s a scintillating exchange of dialogue, then let us hear it, every word.
But don’t be afraid to tell us things, too. Don’t be afraid to tell us, with all your powers of description and even a bit of attitude, about an atmosphere, a landscape, about what’s going on in a character’s mind or in the larger world of your story.