The Proof is in the Writing

I’ve always found characters to be interesting.  For me, they emerge from the darkness of my mind and tell me who they are.  I write successfully when I don’t argue.

Seriously, arguing with a character will only make you crazy, mad and, maybe, homicidal.

Back to my thought.  A couple of days ago, Seanan McGuire posted about an editor asking a YA writing team to change a homosexual character straight.  So, I’m going to toss my opinions in the ring.

  1. As stated before, I’m from the school that the characters reveal themselves to me.  If it happens to be part of the LGBTQ community, so be it.  The character has to ring true, changing them into ‘straight’ will only make the storytelling difficult and frustrating.
  2. Seanan McGuire makes a specific point about YA fiction with a gay character vs. queer YA writing. Saying “queer YA exists” distracts from the issue at hand: there is very little in the way of YA with queer characters, as opposed to queer YA. And that’s something we should be aware of, and something we should be working to fix. My sexual orientation did not somehow change the stories that I was interested in, or the adventures I was able to have as a human being. It was just one factor, amongst a whole lot of other factors. We need explicitly queer YA the way we need sports books and horse books and The Babysitter’s Club and every other niche story: to tell us that this is okay, that this is an option. But characters in apocalypse YA ride horses, play sports, and babysit for children. So why can’t they date whoever they want, without being changed into something they’re not?”
  3. If an agent were to say to meI’ll sign you, providing you change this particular character or remove them all together.” Frankly, I would politely (publishing is a small world, better to be polite than a bitch) thank them for their offer and find the right agent for me.

In the end, the proof is in the writing.  It shouldn’t matter the sexual orientation of a character, as long as they are true to the story.  We live in a world where options are many.  We all bleed red, we are all part of the human race.  

If we can’t represent the world we live in accurately, through our writing, then something is seriously wrong.

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2 comments

  • Great post! 🙂 A great character and a great story are what draw me into a book. The human and realistic we can make our imaginary worlds the better, which means all walks of society have a right to populate stories. Not just those an agent feels will sell. As a writer and a reader, I value honesty in my characters. For them to be real to me, they must be true to themselves.

  • Thanks! A compelling story will always win.

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