Gay and straight

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Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 18, 2003, 4:34:12 PM1/18/03
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A quick question...

What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

Rochelle

David Bilek

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Jan 18, 2003, 6:48:10 PM1/18/03
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Trend? IMO this stopped being an issue in SF quite some time ago.

Now, *explicit* gay sex scenes would probably still put off some of
your audience (I'd hesitate to guess how much), but apart from that
it's all lost in the background noise when weighed against other
factors.

(Do I need to add that explicit sex scenes of any nature, including
straight, would also put off some of your audience?)

-David

Dorothy J Heydt

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Jan 18, 2003, 7:51:01 PM1/18/03
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In article <krpj2vghs5p7746n9...@4ax.com>,

David Bilek <dbi...@attbi.com> wrote:
>Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>>A quick question...
>>
>>What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>>character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>>and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>>SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.
>>
>
>Now, *explicit* gay sex scenes would probably still put off some of
>your audience (I'd hesitate to guess how much), but apart from that
>it's all lost in the background noise when weighed against other
>factors.
>
>(Do I need to add that explicit sex scenes of any nature, including
>straight, would also put off some of your audience?)

Me, e.g.

There are some good books by Melissa Scott containing assorted
flavors of relationships, well worth reading, but there are
places where I say "Oh, another sex scene approaches" and skip
over a dozen pages.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
djh...@kithrup.com
http://www.kithrup.com/~djheydt

Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 18, 2003, 8:59:22 PM1/18/03
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Why should a "trend" matter?

Some people are straight. Some people are gay. Some people are bi.
Some people aren't interested. Some people don't care. Some people are
much, much more complicated than that.

If your main character is one of these types of people and it's relevant
to the story, so be it. If your main character is one of these types of
people and it's not relevant to the story, putting it in might be
interesting characterisation; on the other hand, it might be annoying
and irrelevant.

I'm inclined to suspect that picking a sexual orientation for a
character because said sexual orientation is chic at the moment is more
likely to produce annoying and irrelevant results than having a
character happen to be a particular orientation and have it come up in
passing.


--
Heather Anne Nicoll - Darkhawk - http://aelfhame.net/~darkhawk/
They are one person, they are two alone
They are three together, they are for each other.
- "Helplessly Hoping", Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 18, 2003, 9:08:51 PM1/18/03
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It depends on why the character is gay. If they are gay for the sole
reason of the authors desire to portray 'gay-positive' values, then my
reaction is somewhat negative. If the character is gay, and needs to be
gay for some story purpose, then I don't mind it a bit.

--
Brian f.
FSOBN.


Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 18, 2003, 9:18:14 PM1/18/03
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Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> It depends on why the character is gay. If they are gay for the sole
> reason of the authors desire to portray 'gay-positive' values, then my
> reaction is somewhat negative. If the character is gay, and needs to be
> gay for some story purpose, then I don't mind it a bit.

Do you also prefer for there to be a story reason for straight
characters to be straight?

Marilee J. Layman

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Jan 18, 2003, 10:30:58 PM1/18/03
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On Sat, 18 Jan 2003 23:48:10 GMT, David Bilek <dbi...@attbi.com>
wrote:

I was just thinking this before I got to that parenthetical remark.

--
Marilee J. Layman
Bali Sterling Beads at Wholesale
http://www.basicbali.com

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 18, 2003, 9:33:27 PM1/18/03
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> I'm inclined to suspect that picking a sexual orientation for a
> character because said sexual orientation is chic at the moment is more
> likely to produce annoying and irrelevant results than having a
> character happen to be a particular orientation and have it come up in
> passing.

Heh. I'm not picking a sexual orientation for a character. I have a bisexual
main character. I've been writing this particular series of books for some
time. I was just wondering if it's going to be more difficult to sell the
book because my main character is eventually revealed as bisexual. It
doesn't come up in passing. It's quite central to the plot, eventually.

R.

Elf M. Sternberg

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Jan 18, 2003, 10:33:51 PM1/18/03
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Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> writes:

If it's as much of a trend as Heinlein's casting a Filipino as
the hero of _Starship Troopers_, then it has a long and well-respect
life ahead of it. Honor Harrington's race is simply not relevant to her
character.

Elf

--
Elf M. Sternberg, Immanentizing the Eschaton since 1988
"Those are my principles. If you don't like them, well...
I have others." -- Groucho Marx
http://www.drizzle.com/~elf/ (under construction)

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 18, 2003, 11:17:22 PM1/18/03
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Darkhawk (H. Nicoll) wrote:
> Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
>>It depends on why the character is gay. If they are gay for the sole
>>reason of the authors desire to portray 'gay-positive' values, then my
>>reaction is somewhat negative. If the character is gay, and needs to be
>>gay for some story purpose, then I don't mind it a bit.
>
>
> Do you also prefer for there to be a story reason for straight
> characters to be straight?
>
>

I'm not going to play that game.

If the person's sexuality doesn't play into the story, there is no
reason for it to be in there. We commonly assume that characters are
straight (or many do) but that is a matter of our basic prejudices.
(Take prejudices to be inclinations, expectations, reading into, etc.
rather then an always negative judgement)

Many writers write straight characters, because they think they're
needed. The love interest. Sometimes these contribute to character
development, sometimes they are just there because every story of type a
has a love interest. Sometimes, I find these elements to be distracting.

If the writer is using the love interest to serve a character
development purpose, then I have no problem with the love interest being
anything at all. If it is a matter of introducing a gay character in a
hope to be 'edgy', to force a political commentary, or any other
ideological means then I have a negative reaction.

Why is this, you might ask. The answer is not that I am prejudiced
against gay people. It's because it lacks subtletly, and that offends
my elitest ass.

Alright, maybe I am going to play that game.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.

Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 18, 2003, 11:35:24 PM1/18/03
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Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> If the writer is using the love interest to serve a character
> development purpose, then I have no problem with the love interest being
> anything at all. If it is a matter of introducing a gay character in a
> hope to be 'edgy', to force a political commentary, or any other
> ideological means then I have a negative reaction.

And if the writer is writing about the people in the story, and those
people happen to be straight, gay, bi, or other, what then?

Fallacy of the excluded middle -- characters are entirely capable of
being people with their own traits without those traits being in the
slightest bit relevant to the story. Stories often being about people
as they are, I think it entirely reasonable for characters in stories to
look and behave like people for no other justification than people are
like that.

The thing I'm writing at the moment actually does have a story purpose
to the main character being blond; how many blond characters in most
stories are blond for a story reason? Does that mean that no characters
should ever be portrayed as blond, or that hair colour should never be
mentioned?

Dorothy J Heydt

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Jan 18, 2003, 11:32:59 PM1/18/03
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In article <m37kd14...@drizzle.com>,

Elf M. Sternberg <e...@drizzle.com> wrote:
>Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> writes:
>
>> What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>> character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>> and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>> SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.
>
> If it's as much of a trend as Heinlein's casting a Filipino as
>the hero of _Starship Troopers_, then it has a long and well-respect
>life ahead of it. Honor Harrington's race is simply not relevant to her
>character.

Has Weber ever said anything about Harrington's race? I quit
reading about her several books back, but she looked fairly
European on the covers I have seen. With the exception of the
one that made her look like Michael Jackson about two-thirds of
the way through his surgical metamorphosis.

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:02:17 AM1/19/03
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Darkhawk (H. Nicoll) wrote:
> Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
>>If the writer is using the love interest to serve a character
>>development purpose, then I have no problem with the love interest being
>>anything at all. If it is a matter of introducing a gay character in a
>>hope to be 'edgy', to force a political commentary, or any other
>>ideological means then I have a negative reaction.
>
>
> And if the writer is writing about the people in the story, and those
> people happen to be straight, gay, bi, or other, what then?
>

Does revealing their oreintation serve the story requirements?
Does it influence the plot in a significant way?

I prefer a tighter portrayal of character, if it doesn't matter that a
character is gay, straight, or whatever in the story, then it doesn't
have to be directly referenced. If it reveals something about the
character that is important to the plot or the story, then it is
meaningful to point out.

If for example, the character is living in a society where gay people
are routinely burned, and experiences that fear in a very real way, then
I want to know about the fear, I want to see how that influences the
characters interactions. Does it make them shade their feelings or
thoughts from their friends? Does it make them naturally rebellious
against the society? Does it make them take risks within the society?
Otherwise, it reads false to me.

> Fallacy of the excluded middle -- characters are entirely capable of
> being people with their own traits without those traits being in the
> slightest bit relevant to the story. Stories often being about people
> as they are, I think it entirely reasonable for characters in stories to
> look and behave like people for no other justification than people are
> like that.
>

I, perhaps, keep my characters at a different level of seperation then
you do.

> The thing I'm writing at the moment actually does have a story purpose
> to the main character being blond; how many blond characters in most
> stories are blond for a story reason? Does that mean that no characters
> should ever be portrayed as blond, or that hair colour should never be
> mentioned?
>

It depends. I've read books where the mentioning of an individual as
blond has had political connotations. Or the mentioning of a non-white
character as been sub-human, inferior, even evil. That type of thing
bothers me as much as anything else.

You're also communicating with someone, who likes to play with color
schemes, so the fact that someone is mentioned with blond hair, may be
indication that a stupid writer trick is being employed.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.


David Bilek

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:06:45 AM1/19/03
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lila...@subdimension.com (Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)) wrote:
>Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>> If the writer is using the love interest to serve a character
>> development purpose, then I have no problem with the love interest being
>> anything at all. If it is a matter of introducing a gay character in a
>> hope to be 'edgy', to force a political commentary, or any other
>> ideological means then I have a negative reaction.
>
>And if the writer is writing about the people in the story, and those
>people happen to be straight, gay, bi, or other, what then?
>
>Fallacy of the excluded middle -- characters are entirely capable of
>being people with their own traits without those traits being in the
>slightest bit relevant to the story. Stories often being about people
>as they are, I think it entirely reasonable for characters in stories to
>look and behave like people for no other justification than people are
>like that.
>
>The thing I'm writing at the moment actually does have a story purpose
>to the main character being blond; how many blond characters in most
>stories are blond for a story reason? Does that mean that no characters
>should ever be portrayed as blond, or that hair colour should never be
>mentioned?

Hair color and sexual orientation are not, in mainstream American
culture and society, equivalent. This may be good or it may be bad,
but it's true.

-David

David Bilek

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:12:35 AM1/19/03
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Marilee J. Layman <mjla...@erols.com> wrote:
>David Bilek <dbi...@attbi.com> wrote:
>>Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>>>A quick question...
>>>
>>>What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>>>character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>>>and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>>>SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.
>>>
>>
>>Trend? IMO this stopped being an issue in SF quite some time ago.
>>
>>Now, *explicit* gay sex scenes would probably still put off some of
>>your audience (I'd hesitate to guess how much), but apart from that
>>it's all lost in the background noise when weighed against other
>>factors.
>
>>(Do I need to add that explicit sex scenes of any nature, including
>>straight, would also put off some of your audience?)
>
>I was just thinking this before I got to that parenthetical remark.

Yes... almost left it out but decided it was important enough that I
should include it.

That said, I do think the number of people who would be put off by
explicit gay sex scenes is significantly higher than for heterosexual
scences, but I have no idea if it's "low but significantly higher" or
"very much higher".

Still, I doubt it's worth worrying too much about unless you have a
specific target audience in mind. There are all kinds of scenes that
will put off certain readers. Cue Dorothy (Heydt) and Bujold for
instance.

If you have a reason to include such a scene, include it. If you
don't... don't. And "it amuses me" might be enough of a reason.

-David

Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:20:13 AM1/19/03
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Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
> Has Weber ever said anything about Harrington's race? I quit
> reading about her several books back, but she looked fairly
> European on the covers I have seen. With the exception of the
> one that made her look like Michael Jackson about two-thirds of
> the way through his surgical metamorphosis.

IIRC, mixed-race, partially Asian.

Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:02:18 AM1/19/03
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Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> Darkhawk (H. Nicoll) wrote:

> > And if the writer is writing about the people in the story, and those
> > people happen to be straight, gay, bi, or other, what then?
>
> Does revealing their oreintation serve the story requirements?
> Does it influence the plot in a significant way?

Who a character is is bound to influence the plot in a significant way;
orientation may well be a major component of who a character is. (In
some people, fictional or otherwise, it isn't.)

> I prefer a tighter portrayal of character, if it doesn't matter that a
> character is gay, straight, or whatever in the story, then it doesn't
> have to be directly referenced. If it reveals something about the
> character that is important to the plot or the story, then it is
> meaningful to point out.

On the other hand, too tight a portrayal of things in a story can lead
to a sense that only the things that are portrayed in the story are
actually tangible; there's nothing off the edges of the page that gives
mimesis. A character who, for example, has a lost love thought of
fondly, in which thought there is nothing part of the story or even
particularly relevant to the plot, nonetheless in speaking of that lost
love can provide a sense of breadth to the world. And, yes, one can
build characterisation and world in the same way, but that's not
directly my point.

But it could also be like being blond; just a thing that happens to be
true about some people, which comes up occasionally in conversation or
in referring to them, and is otherwise utterly irrelevant.

> > The thing I'm writing at the moment actually does have a story purpose
> > to the main character being blond; how many blond characters in most
> > stories are blond for a story reason? Does that mean that no characters
> > should ever be portrayed as blond, or that hair colour should never be
> > mentioned?
>
> It depends. I've read books where the mentioning of an individual as
> blond has had political connotations. Or the mentioning of a non-white
> character as been sub-human, inferior, even evil. That type of thing
> bothers me as much as anything else.

Out-of-story impositions of symbolism have no bearing on whether or not
a character can be blond for an inside-the-story purpose, nor whether or
not you consider it legitimate to mention a character as being blond
simply because it is true.

> You're also communicating with someone, who likes to play with color
> schemes, so the fact that someone is mentioned with blond hair, may be
> indication that a stupid writer trick is being employed.

I do not understand this paragraph; it is insufficiently specified to
function as communication with me.

Darkhawk (H. Nicoll)

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:02:19 AM1/19/03
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It is equally true that people have hair colour and people have sexual
orientation, and they do so without having a story purpose or through a
desire to be political.

It is therefore entirely possible to write stories containing such
people without desiring to be political or having a fundamental story
purpose in doing so. Demanding that everything have a double meaning
strikes me as being repugnant, not only because it limits the sorts of
stories that can be told, but because it ossifies discourse such that
some things can never be treated as being normal.

Dan Goodman

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:07:21 AM1/19/03
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Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote in
news:BA4F4093.3127%rma...@sympatico.ca:

Nitpick: a trend is visible only _over time_.

Right now, there are a fair number of homosexual, bisexual, and
orientations-not-possible-in-our-time-and-place protagonists in science
fiction and fantasy. That's considering only those intended for general sf
readers; there are lesbian presses which publish sf and fantasy. (Probably
gay male ones also.)

They seem to do okay in the marketplace. Lois McMaster Bujold's _Ethan of
Athos_ apparently sold as well as her other novels. Nicola Griffith's first
novel sold well enough that she was able to get her second published.
(However, I gather she's now concentrating on mysteries.) Melissa Scott
seems to be selling reasonably well.

A chart showing the trend from about 1950 would probably show near-zero
percentage of non-heterosexual protagonists -- most of those belonging to
species which reproduce by other methods -- at the beginning. So the trend
is upward.

Now -- for what follows, take what you can use and leave the rest:

Whether it's advisable for _you_ to write stories and novels with non-
hetero characters is a whole other set of questions.

I would find it very difficult to write from the viewpoint of a righthanded
character. If lefthandedness and ambidexterity couldn't be mentioned in
sf/fantasy, I would have to not mention them. If it was necessary for all
protagonists to be explicitly righthanded, I don't know if I could manage
it.


Dan Goodman

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:11:37 AM1/19/03
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djh...@kithrup.com (Dorothy J Heydt) wrote in
news:H8y1y...@kithrup.com:

> In article <m37kd14...@drizzle.com>,
> Elf M. Sternberg <e...@drizzle.com> wrote:
>>Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> writes:
>>
>>> What do you think is the current trends viability of a
>>> non-heterosexual lead character? Is it still best to keep that sort
>>> of thing in the background, and keep main characters straight? I
>>> know there are lots of gay heroes in SF/F, but I wondered if anyone
>>> had a sense of where the trend is currently.
>>
>> If it's as much of a trend as Heinlein's casting a Filipino as
>>the hero of _Starship Troopers_, then it has a long and well-respect
>>life ahead of it. Honor Harrington's race is simply not relevant to
>>her character.
>
> Has Weber ever said anything about Harrington's race? I quit
> reading about her several books back, but she looked fairly
> European on the covers I have seen.

That doesn't mean anything, to put it mildly.

Brian M. Scott

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:08:23 AM1/19/03
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On Sun, 19 Jan 2003 04:32:59 GMT, djh...@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
Heydt) wrote:

>In article <m37kd14...@drizzle.com>,
>Elf M. Sternberg <e...@drizzle.com> wrote:
>>Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> writes:

>>> What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>>> character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>>> and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>>> SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

>> If it's as much of a trend as Heinlein's casting a Filipino as
>>the hero of _Starship Troopers_, then it has a long and well-respect
>>life ahead of it. Honor Harrington's race is simply not relevant to her
>>character.

>Has Weber ever said anything about Harrington's race?

Mostly indirectly: dark brown hair, pale skin, slightly
almond-shaped eyes, the last inherited from her mother. Her
genetic modifications are more important, so they get more play.
The House of Winton, on the other hand, are black (and also
genetically modified).

[...]

Brian

Brian M. Scott

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:12:30 AM1/19/03
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On Sun, 19 Jan 2003 00:02:17 -0500, "Brian D. Fernald"
<bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:

[...]

>I prefer a tighter portrayal of character, if it doesn't matter that a
>character is gay, straight, or whatever in the story, then it doesn't
>have to be directly referenced. If it reveals something about the
>character that is important to the plot or the story, then it is
>meaningful to point out.

This is too strict a dichotomy for me, at least for novels. I
read fiction as much to spend time with the characters as for any
other reason, so as a rule I want them fleshed out more than the
minimum that's important to the story.

[...]

Brian

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:39:25 AM1/19/03
to

It's more of an ideal. In reality it doesn't always work, but it's
useful as a guiding principal.

I managed to paint myself into a bit tighter of a corner then I had
intended, so take it with a grain of salt.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.


Brooks Moses

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Jan 19, 2003, 3:55:57 AM1/19/03
to
"Brian D. Fernald" wrote:

What about cases where the author finds that a certain character is most
accurately portrayed as being gay (in much the same way that they might
have brown hair), although the plot and story would be very little
different if they were straight (in much the same way that having blonde
hair wouldn't change most stories, but might make it difficult for the
author because it's not an honest portrayal of the character in their
head)? Are you including those in cases of "needs to be gay for some
story purpose"? I'd include them in there, because I have a fairly wide
definition for "story purpose" that's far more than just "furthers the
plot", but your phrasing implies that you might well not, so I ask....

With that inclusion clearly in place, I think I'd agree with you -- the
boundary, for me, is when a character's characterization is forced into
something that's unnatural for them in order to suit the author's
political motives (or whims, or desires to fit the current trends, or
whatever). This mainly being objectionable because it creates flat
characters or contradictory ones, and has little to do with whether the
characteristic in question is gender or sexual orientation or blue skin.

Admittedly, making an ordinary human society have blue skin is much less
likely to produce contradictory and flat characters as writing an
imagined-gay character as straight would, in most cases, I think.

- Brooks

Brooks Moses

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Jan 19, 2003, 4:11:05 AM1/19/03
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Rochelle Mazar wrote:
> Heh. I'm not picking a sexual orientation for a character. I have a bisexual
> main character. I've been writing this particular series of books for some
> time. I was just wondering if it's going to be more difficult to sell the
> book because my main character is eventually revealed as bisexual. It
> doesn't come up in passing. It's quite central to the plot, eventually.

I don't think that would cause a problem (and, even if it would, it's
probably still better to write the story and deal with the fallout
rather than eviscerating the story to get it out).

What might cause a problem is if it's suddenly revealed at just the
point when it becomes central to the plot, without being implied or
alluded to earlier. Not because of bisexuality being a special case,
but because that anything that happens like that tends to come off as
contrived. I've no idea if this happens in your story or not, but the
phrasing indicates it might.

Just because I'm in a mood to phrase things pithily: "If you're going to
solve a major plot crisis by pulling a rabbit out of a hat, make sure
you've already shown the rabbit being placed in the hat." :)

- Brooks

Boudewijn Rempt

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Jan 19, 2003, 6:03:02 AM1/19/03
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Brooks Moses wrote:

> Just because I'm in a mood to phrase things pithily: "If you're going to
> solve a major plot crisis by pulling a rabbit out of a hat, make sure
> you've already shown the rabbit being placed in the hat." :)

I think it would be enough foreshadowing to show the hat-owner buy carrots.
No need to see the actual rabbit...

--
Boudewijn Rempt | http://www.valdyas.org

Richard Kennaway

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Jan 19, 2003, 7:20:58 AM1/19/03
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Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> I prefer a tighter portrayal of character, if it doesn't matter that a
> character is gay, straight, or whatever in the story, then it doesn't
> have to be directly referenced.

It cannot not be. Leaving aside SFnal variations on the concepts,
orientation is an *unavoidable* component of who a character is, if they
have any intimate relationships at all. And to have no such
relationships would itself be a major component of a significant
character.

Such a character's lover/partner/whatever will be either the same sex,
or the opposite sex. There is no way for the writer not to make that
choice. To require there there be a definite story reason for one
choice but not for the other is itself an intrusion of the writer's
politics.

-- Richard Kennaway

Richard Kennaway

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Jan 19, 2003, 7:21:11 AM1/19/03
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Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> Heh. I'm not picking a sexual orientation for a character. I have a bisexual
> main character.

Er...you just did.

-- Richard Kennaway

silvasurfa

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Jan 19, 2003, 7:47:58 AM1/19/03
to

"Richard Kennaway" <ar...@dircon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1fp18ho.m6rpmucxxmc9N%ar...@dircon.co.uk...

Wouldn't that be more like picking a sexual dis-orientation?


mary_...@cix.compulink.co.uk

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Jan 19, 2003, 7:48:09 AM1/19/03
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In article <BA4F86B7.3184%rma...@sympatico.ca>, rma...@sympatico.ca
(Rochelle Mazar) wrote:

I don't seem to have had any sales problems through having a bisexual
protagonist. Most of the time it's background detail, but in two of the
novels Valentine's bisexuality is central to the plot.

And Ash being straight is central to a couple of plot-threads, as well as
being background 'texture'.

But I suspect sales are irrelevant in this case. If you've got a bisexual
character, you can either write the story that goes with him/her or you
can lie, and I think lying about any one of your characters is crippling.

Mary

Richard Kennaway

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Jan 19, 2003, 8:52:17 AM1/19/03
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silvasurfa <eric...@bigpond.blah.com> wrote:
> "Richard Kennaway" <ar...@dircon.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:1fp18ho.m6rpmucxxmc9N%ar...@dircon.co.uk...
> > Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> > > Heh. I'm not picking a sexual orientation for a character. I have a
> > > bisexual main character.

> > Er...you just did.

> Wouldn't that be more like picking a sexual dis-orientation?

No. If a character is inclined towards sex with both men and women,
well, that's what that character is inclined to.

As they say on soc.bi, "*You're* confused; *I'm* bisexual."

-- Richard Kennaway

James Nicoll

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Jan 19, 2003, 11:44:45 AM1/19/03
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In article <BA4F4093.3127%rma...@sympatico.ca>,

Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>A quick question...
>
>What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

As far as I can tell, the big trends are horrific interpersonal
relationships (1) and stunningly bad parenting (2). Gay vs straight seems
to be a side-issue except in MilSF, where the sword-wielding lesbians
are usually there to titilate the carnography wankers who are not getting
any and who aren't going to in the near future.

1: Eg: She helped get him locked up and tortured for 17 years. He
accidentally caused her to suffer serious, scarring burns over most of
her body.

or

She had his hand chopped off. He kidnapped her, threatened to
drown her unless she married him and then confessed his undying love
for her.


2: Eg: Dad prefers Dead Son to Living Son and so makes a deal with
Total Evil to bring the maggoty son back to life, because deals with Total
Evil so often work out well.

or

Dad spends all of his time belittling his son for not living up
to his expectations.

or

Daughter is seduced by fencing master and declared dead to her
family as a result.

or

Daughter is to married off to evil son-of-emperor despite her
protestations and attempts to escape. Wedding goes poorly. Groom is
dead, bride had her strangling hand chopped off and dad worries about
salvaging his family's political position.


Actually, terrible parenting is a tradition in SF, I think.
--
"Repress the urge to sprout wings or self-ignite!...This man's an
Episcopalian!...They have definite views."

Pibgorn Oct 31/02

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 19, 2003, 10:48:05 AM1/19/03
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On 1/19/03 8:21 AM, in article 1fp18ho.m6rpmucxxmc9N%ar...@dircon.co.uk,
"Richard Kennaway" <ar...@dircon.co.uk> wrote:

Not really. I did that 14 months ago. I'm just sayin', I didn't post that
comment in order to see if being gay was 'trendy' right now. The story is
written, the character is set, and baring running around turning his love
interest into a girl, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I just
wanted to know if the publishing trend was more for or more against such
things.

This does remind me not to post to newsgroups while drunk. Sorry about all
that.

:)

Rochelle

steve miller

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:11:54 PM1/19/03
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On 19 Jan 2003 11:44:45 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
wrote:

> Actually, terrible parenting is a tradition in SF, I think.

I think Heinlein tried to give his fictional kids good parents, for
the most part.

Well, that's one to start with...

Steve


Heather Jones

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:40:15 PM1/19/03
to
Rochelle Mazar wrote:
>
> A quick question...
>
> What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
> character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
> and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
> SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

My personal opinion is that the sexuality of a lead character
ought to be determined by the requirements of the story, not by
the entrails of the market.

Heather

--
*****
Heather Rose Jones
hrj...@socrates.berkeley.edu
*****

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:02:02 PM1/19/03
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On 1/19/03 5:11 AM, in article 3E2A6BA9...@cits1.stanford.edu, "Brooks

Moses" <bmoses...@cits1.stanford.edu> wrote:
> What might cause a problem is if it's suddenly revealed at just the
> point when it becomes central to the plot, without being implied or
> alluded to earlier. Not because of bisexuality being a special case,
> but because that anything that happens like that tends to come off as
> contrived. I've no idea if this happens in your story or not, but the
> phrasing indicates it might.

I understand what you're saying there, I agree with you that if I were
making it the answer to everything suddenly that would be a problem. And I
certainly wouldn't want something like that to be the rabbit out of the hat
in any context, I definitely agree with you. It's not so much a plot *point*
as part of a plot *development*, if you know what I mean.

I said 'eventually' because I'm editing the book 1 manuscript and it's not
in there, really. The eventual love interest is there, and his sexuality is
defined pretty clearly for the reader and a couple of characters, but the
hero has no idea and is not really thinking about such things.

The sexuality question becomes significant to my main character at the end
book 2, and at that point it is a bit of a surprise. When it comes down to
it he's not sure if he admires or hates this fellow, and he gets himself
into a situation and just doesn't want to resist the smooch. So I'm not
really having him be, er, 'out' or anything prior to that, and there's lots
of fallout around it, but the whole thing is still sitting underneath the
main plot at that point. No one else is going to find out about this little
covert relationship at first. For a while it's a strange double life, as
something he can't talk about with anyone but is very important to him.

I say 'eventually' it becomes an important plot point because in the third
book that relationship itself becomes one of the tools his enemies use to
get at him. In a rather spectacular and public way. And then everyone finds
out, of course.

It's more of a rabbit out of the hat for the other characters, more than it
is for the reader.

Thanks for the prodding on this.

Rochelle

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:20:34 PM1/19/03
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On 1/19/03 2:07 AM, in article Xns930817B4174...@209.98.13.60,
"Dan Goodman" <dsg...@visi.com> wrote:
[snip]

> They seem to do okay in the marketplace.

Yay! I'm glad to hear this, that's my general feeling but I wasn't sure if I
was being too hopeful or not.



> Whether it's advisable for _you_ to write stories and novels with non-
> hetero characters is a whole other set of questions.
>
> I would find it very difficult to write from the viewpoint of a righthanded
> character. If lefthandedness and ambidexterity couldn't be mentioned in
> sf/fantasy, I would have to not mention them. If it was necessary for all
> protagonists to be explicitly righthanded, I don't know if I could manage
> it.

Well, this is interesting. The point you seem to making here is that a
heterosexual woman shouldn't be writing about gay people. 'Write what you
know,' and so forth. The 'appropriation of voice' argument. If heterosexual
women didn't write about gay people, there would be rather less fiction
involving gay people in the world, sad to say. Being gay is not like being
an alien, or being a dining room table, or being, say, from Kenya. It's not
exactly something with a defined set of right and wrong. Gay people do
actually come from the same communities as everyone else, and have the same
prejudices. Therefore, I would argue, gay characters can be faithfully
constructed by even heteronormative authors, using the tools of their own
experiences.

For the record, I am not a heterosexual woman. :)

Rochelle

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 19, 2003, 12:52:09 PM1/19/03
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On 1/19/03 1:12 AM, in article 0qck2vgm8rmqodesg...@4ax.com,
"David Bilek" <dbi...@attbi.com> wrote:
> If you have a reason to include such a scene [explicit gay sex], include it.

> If you don't... don't. And "it amuses me" might be enough of a reason.

Heeee, I laughed out loud at that. I don't actually have any intention of
including explicit sex scenes. I mean, I *could* I suppose, but I doubt I
actually will. I'm nervous enough trying to sell a book for a 'mainstream'
audience with a gay romance in it let alone with smut in it. (I can just
post the smut on my website. HAHAHAHAA!!) Though didn't Jean M. Auel get
away with a lot of smut. *snerks* But no, seriously, I have straight
romances going on in this series as well, they're just not quite as central
as the gay romance is.

No, honestly, I'm heartened by what you've said. I've been ensconced in a
very gay-positive writing environment since well before I began this
manuscript (slash fanfiction, anyone?) and I'm unclear where the rest of the
world stands on these things.

Thanks very much.

R.

Helen

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Jan 19, 2003, 1:11:51 PM1/19/03
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In article <1fp08w3.1ru3ycvmm2pe9N%lila...@subdimension.com>, Darkhawk
(H. Nicoll) <lila...@subdimension.com> writes

>
>The thing I'm writing at the moment actually does have a story purpose
>to the main character being blond; how many blond characters in most
>stories are blond for a story reason? Does that mean that no characters
>should ever be portrayed as blond, or that hair colour should never be
>mentioned?
>
I hope not. My protag is blond. He just is. He's been blond since he
walked into my imagination over 30 years ago. As a visual
reader/writer, I'm going to see my characters with a hair colour. Mark
is blond, Huw has very dark brown hair, Elen's is chestnut. That's how
I see them; that's how I'm going to describe them. There isn't a story
reason for Mark to be blond, but it does mean that he stands out
obviously as a foreigner when he gets transferred to another world by
magic, so it does get mentioned quite frequently. Hopefully it adds a
layer of detail that enhances rather than detracts.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk

Dan Goodman

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Jan 19, 2003, 2:40:08 PM1/19/03
to
Rochelle Mazar <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote in
news:BA5056A2.3208%rma...@sympatico.ca:

> On 1/19/03 2:07 AM, in article
> Xns930817B4174...@209.98.13.60, "Dan Goodman"
> <dsg...@visi.com> wrote: [snip]
>> They seem to do okay in the marketplace.
>
> Yay! I'm glad to hear this, that's my general feeling but I wasn't
> sure if I was being too hopeful or not.
>
>> Whether it's advisable for _you_ to write stories and novels with
>> non- hetero characters is a whole other set of questions.
>>
>> I would find it very difficult to write from the viewpoint of a
>> righthanded character. If lefthandedness and ambidexterity couldn't
>> be mentioned in sf/fantasy, I would have to not mention them. If it
>> was necessary for all protagonists to be explicitly righthanded, I
>> don't know if I could manage it.
>
> Well, this is interesting. The point you seem to making here is that a
> heterosexual woman shouldn't be writing about gay people.

You've made two misinterpretations here, one of which is interesting.

The interesting one: confusing "I would find it very difficult" with "for
the good of society, someone like me should not do it".

The uninteresting one is confusing "I would find it" with "All humans like
me would find it...."


'Write what
> you know,' and so forth. The 'appropriation of voice' argument.

Actually, we're agreed that this is batcrap.

> If
> heterosexual women didn't write about gay people, there would be
> rather less fiction involving gay people in the world, sad to say.
> Being gay is not like being an alien, or being a dining room table, or
> being, say, from Kenya. It's not exactly something with a defined set
> of right and wrong. Gay people do actually come from the same
> communities as everyone else, and have the same prejudices.

Then why isn't my brother exactly like me?

More seriously: It probably pays to keep in mind that social categories
differ. What's considered homosexual behavior in one society may not be in
another.

> Therefore,
> I would argue, gay characters can be faithfully constructed by even
> heteronormative authors, using the tools of their own experiences.

As Orson Scott Card says -- using Michael Bishop's _Unicorn Mountain as a
good example -- in his book on writing sf.

But, speaking more generally: the list of military sf writers whose work I
find convincing mostly overlaps with the list of military sf writers
who've been in combat.



> For the record, I am not a heterosexual woman. :)

Are you either heterosexual or female?

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 19, 2003, 4:54:12 PM1/19/03
to
Richard Kennaway wrote:
> Brian D. Fernald <bfer...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
>>I prefer a tighter portrayal of character, if it doesn't matter that a
>>character is gay, straight, or whatever in the story, then it doesn't
>>have to be directly referenced.
>
>
> It cannot not be. Leaving aside SFnal variations on the concepts,
> orientation is an *unavoidable* component of who a character is, if they
> have any intimate relationships at all. And to have no such
> relationships would itself be a major component of a significant
> character.
>

I don't see where this is an objection on my comment above.


> Such a character's lover/partner/whatever will be either the same sex,
> or the opposite sex. There is no way for the writer not to make that
> choice. To require there there be a definite story reason for one
> choice but not for the other is itself an intrusion of the writer's
> politics.
>

Actually, no.

The writer can very easily make the choice to not include any comment
whatsoever on the sexuality of the character when it is not directly
relevant to the progress of the story, this does not indicate an
assumption of a political view or a negation of a political view, it
just means that the sexuality does not play a part in the story.

Beyond that my objection to certain portrayals of characters that rely
upon secuality is an aesthetic one, not a political one.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.


Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 19, 2003, 4:57:37 PM1/19/03
to
James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <BA4F4093.3127%rma...@sympatico.ca>,

> Gay vs straight seems
> to be a side-issue except in MilSF, where the sword-wielding lesbians
> are usually there to titilate the carnography wankers who are not getting
> any and who aren't going to in the near future.
>

This trend in milSF is one of the reasons that I don't particulary read
much milSF. It is as offensive as the noble hero who instantly causes
all women to fall instantly in love with him because they have no other
thoughts in their head but to worship each noble hero that rides into town.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.


Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 19, 2003, 5:55:29 PM1/19/03
to
Brooks Moses wrote:
> "Brian D. Fernald" wrote:
>
>>Rochelle Mazar wrote:
>>
>>>What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>>>character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>>>and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>>>SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.
>>
>>It depends on why the character is gay. If they are gay for the sole
>>reason of the authors desire to portray 'gay-positive' values, then my
>>reaction is somewhat negative. If the character is gay, and needs to be
>>gay for some story purpose, then I don't mind it a bit.
>
>
> What about cases where the author finds that a certain character is most
> accurately portrayed as being gay (in much the same way that they might
> have brown hair), although the plot and story would be very little
> different if they were straight (in much the same way that having blonde
> hair wouldn't change most stories, but might make it difficult for the
> author because it's not an honest portrayal of the character in their
> head)? Are you including those in cases of "needs to be gay for some
> story purpose"? I'd include them in there, because I have a fairly wide
> definition for "story purpose" that's far more than just "furthers the
> plot", but your phrasing implies that you might well not, so I ask....
>

My phrasing was a bit off, because of the late hour.

Take the movie Velvet Goldmine. Ewen MacGregor's character is gay for a
story purpose. It wouldn't be the same story if he wasn't gay.

Christian Bale's character, if not gay at least gay curious, also has to
have that element or the essential story changes.

Another example would be Poppy Z. Brite's _Drawing Blood_, where a
sexual encounter improves the story, because it resolves a subtext item
that is introduced in the beginning of the book.

> With that inclusion clearly in place, I think I'd agree with you -- the
> boundary, for me, is when a character's characterization is forced into
> something that's unnatural for them in order to suit the author's
> political motives (or whims, or desires to fit the current trends, or
> whatever). This mainly being objectionable because it creates flat
> characters or contradictory ones, and has little to do with whether the
> characteristic in question is gender or sexual orientation or blue skin.
>

This is the type of thing that I was reacting against. The 'coolness'
factor of having a gay character to show how enlightened the author is.
This offends my aesthetic sensilbilities.

> Admittedly, making an ordinary human society have blue skin is much less
> likely to produce contradictory and flat characters as writing an
> imagined-gay character as straight would, in most cases, I think.
>

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.

Elizabeth Shack

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Jan 19, 2003, 6:15:14 PM1/19/03
to
On Sun, 19 Jan 2003 13:20:34 -0400, Rochelle Mazar
<rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>On 1/19/03 2:07 AM, in article Xns930817B4174...@209.98.13.60,
>"Dan Goodman" <dsg...@visi.com> wrote:

>> Whether it's advisable for _you_ to write stories and novels with non-
>> hetero characters is a whole other set of questions.
>>
>> I would find it very difficult to write from the viewpoint of a righthanded
>> character. If lefthandedness and ambidexterity couldn't be mentioned in
>> sf/fantasy, I would have to not mention them. If it was necessary for all
>> protagonists to be explicitly righthanded, I don't know if I could manage
>> it.
>
>Well, this is interesting. The point you seem to making here is that a
>heterosexual woman shouldn't be writing about gay people.

I thought he meant *he* couldn't do it, not that you can't.

I can't imagine being so strongly right-handed [1] that I couldn't
write from a left-handed POV. Dan, what difference does it make,
other than checking which hand the character does stuff with?

[1] I am right-handed, but I do lots of stuff with my left hand, and I
do my figure skating spins and jumps the left-handed way.

--
Elizabeth Shack eas...@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~eashack/life.html
Busy. Got coffee?

Elizabeth Shack

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Jan 19, 2003, 6:15:20 PM1/19/03
to
On 19 Jan 2003 11:44:45 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
wrote:

> Daughter is to married off to evil son-of-emperor despite her


>protestations and attempts to escape. Wedding goes poorly. Groom is
>dead, bride had her strangling hand chopped off and dad worries about
>salvaging his family's political position.

What's this one?

Charlie Allery

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Jan 19, 2003, 6:26:49 PM1/19/03
to

Rochelle Mazar wrote in message ...


Sounds reasonable enough to me. Sounds like it's an integral part of both
character and plot.

Charlie


Charlie Allery

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Jan 19, 2003, 6:29:54 PM1/19/03
to

Elizabeth Shack wrote in message <3e2b1071...@news.earthlink.net>...


I think I could possibly write a left-handed character, although
right-handed myself. But my brother is left-handed and I've spent many years
observing the difficulties he encounters and copes with without complaint.

Charlie


Dan Goodman

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Jan 19, 2003, 7:57:01 PM1/19/03
to
eas...@nospam.earthlink.net (Elizabeth Shack) wrote in
news:3e2b1071...@news.earthlink.net:

> On Sun, 19 Jan 2003 13:20:34 -0400, Rochelle Mazar
> <rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:
>
>>On 1/19/03 2:07 AM, in article
>>Xns930817B4174...@209.98.13.60, "Dan Goodman"
>><dsg...@visi.com> wrote:
>
>>> Whether it's advisable for _you_ to write stories and novels with
>>> non- hetero characters is a whole other set of questions.
>>>
>>> I would find it very difficult to write from the viewpoint of a
>>> righthanded character. If lefthandedness and ambidexterity couldn't
>>> be mentioned in sf/fantasy, I would have to not mention them. If it
>>> was necessary for all protagonists to be explicitly righthanded, I
>>> don't know if I could manage it.
>>
>>Well, this is interesting. The point you seem to making here is that a
>>heterosexual woman shouldn't be writing about gay people.
>
> I thought he meant *he* couldn't do it, not that you can't.
>
> I can't imagine being so strongly right-handed [1] that I couldn't
> write from a left-handed POV. Dan, what difference does it make,
> other than checking which hand the character does stuff with?

It _feels_ wrong.


> [1] I am right-handed, but I do lots of stuff with my left hand, and I
> do my figure skating spins and jumps the left-handed way.
>

There are a number of things I do with my right hand. Some because
they're easier to do with the right hand. Some out of habit -- I found
out years ago that it was hard for me to use a lefthanded can opener.

Lucinda Welenc

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Jan 19, 2003, 8:13:47 PM1/19/03
to
steve miller wrote:
>
> On 19 Jan 2003 11:44:45 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
> wrote:
>
> > Actually, terrible parenting is a tradition in SF, I think.
>
> I think Heinlein tried to give his fictional kids good parents, for
> the most part.

Did he? Read the portrayal of the mothers in any of his juvenile books
(exception: The Rolling Stones). They are portrayed for the most part
as suffocating nitwits.

--
Alanna
**********
Saying of the day:
Words are the voice of the heart.

Brandon Ray

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Jan 19, 2003, 9:44:56 PM1/19/03
to

Lucinda Welenc wrote:

> steve miller wrote:
> >
> > On 19 Jan 2003 11:44:45 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Actually, terrible parenting is a tradition in SF, I think.
> >
> > I think Heinlein tried to give his fictional kids good parents, for
> > the most part.
>
> Did he? Read the portrayal of the mothers in any of his juvenile books
> (exception: The Rolling Stones). They are portrayed for the most part
> as suffocating nitwits.

Well, they weren't always suffocating nitwits. Podkayne's mother, for
instance, seemed to be largely absent from her children's lives. For that
matter, the mother in "Rolling Stones" was rather distant, as well.

I don't get much feel one way or another for Kip's mother in "Have
Spacesuit -- Will Travel". We knew she existed, and seemed to be
sympathetic. But Kip's relationship with his father seemed to be much
more important.

--
In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics! -- Homer Simpson


James Nicoll

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Jan 19, 2003, 9:43:29 PM1/19/03
to
In article <3e2b0ff8...@news.earthlink.net>,

Elizabeth Shack <eas...@nospam.earthlink.net> wrote:
>On 19 Jan 2003 11:44:45 -0500, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
>wrote:
>
>> Daughter is to married off to evil son-of-emperor despite her
>>protestations and attempts to escape. Wedding goes poorly. Groom is
>>dead, bride had her strangling hand chopped off and dad worries about
>>salvaging his family's political position.
>
>What's this one?
>
Reverse spoiler warning


Hilari Bell's _A Matter of Profit_ [Harper Collins, 2001).
Bit of a mystery, bit of another mystery. Nothing earth-shattering
but it gets from point A to point B well enough and if it telegraphs
the solution to the large scale mystery (why did most of the planets
in the T'Chin Confederacy not resist invasion? (1)) I suspect it does
so in a way YA readers may miss the first time through.

James Nicoll


1: Because

SPOILER

T'Chin very very roughly = China and the T'chin so outnumber
any potential invaders that they can be assured of assimilating them
in a few of the invaders generations. Since the T'chin live a very
long time, they can wait.

Anna Mazzoldi

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Jan 20, 2003, 6:58:17 AM1/20/03
to

"Elizabeth Shack" <eas...@nospam.earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:3e2b1071...@news.earthlink.net...

> [1] I am right-handed, but I do lots of stuff with my left hand,
and I
> do my figure skating spins and jumps the left-handed way.

Sounds like me. I'm weakly right-handed -- meaning, almost
ambidextrous: I _can_ do everything with my left hand except
writing and drawing (and even there I can do it if I need to, only
it's quite awkward); but there are things I normally do with my
right hand (like stirring pots or fencing) or with my left (like
drinking or picking up small items), and things I regularly do
with either hand depending on situation (like using keys or
catching objects). But I'm definitely left-legged, as demonstrated
by kicking footballs, high-jump and hurdle racing, and serious
difficulties getting on horses (they move away if I try to get on
from the side that comes natural to _me_, and if I try from the
correct side I have lots of trouble finding the strength to lift
myself up).

My current protagonist is naturally right-handed, but close to
ambidextrous by training (fighting with two weapons, though the
left-hand knife is used mostly for parrying); which comes in quite
handy for those occasions where she's possessed by the ghost of
this left-handed warrior... ;-)

Ciao,
Anna


Helen

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Jan 20, 2003, 10:33:57 AM1/20/03
to
In article <b0f6qr$2c6$1...@slb6.atl.mindspring.net>, Brian D. Fernald
<bfer...@mindspring.com> writes

>
>The writer can very easily make the choice to not include any comment
>whatsoever on the sexuality of the character when it is not directly
>relevant to the progress of the story, this does not indicate an
>assumption of a political view or a negation of a political view, it
>just means that the sexuality does not play a part in the story.
>
I can see that this might be possible (perhaps in a short story), yet in
practice I would find it very difficult (especially in a novel). You
would have to have a situation where the protag has no current love/sex
life, never refers to any past love/sex life and all relationships with
other characters are totally platonic. Not only that, if you were
writing from the protag's POV, you would have to avoid even the most
fleeting thought about the attractiveness or non-attractiveness of other
characters for fear of giving the game away. In terms of developing a
fully rounded character, that sounds hard to do.

>Beyond that my objection to certain portrayals of characters that rely
>upon secuality is an aesthetic one, not a political one.
>

Assuming the characters in the story are human, then it's rather
difficult to portray them as asexual and still make them convincing.

steve miller

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Jan 20, 2003, 11:43:27 AM1/20/03
to
On Sat, 18 Jan 2003 17:34:12 -0400, Rochelle Mazar
<rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

>A quick question...


>
>What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
>character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
>and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
>SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

Write the story. If an editor needs soemthign just a little different,
they'll let you know. Otherwise you'll waste your time worrying
instead of writing.

Steve


The Tomorrow Log: order now at fine stores everywhere
Buy Scout's Progress, a Prism Award Winner, from Ace
See Lee & Miller's "Sweet Waters" in 3SF #1

Lucinda Welenc

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Jan 20, 2003, 12:08:00 PM1/20/03
to
Anna Mazzoldi wrote:
>
> "Elizabeth Shack" <eas...@nospam.earthlink.net> wrote in message
> news:3e2b1071...@news.earthlink.net...
>
> > [1] I am right-handed, but I do lots of stuff with my left hand,
> and I
> > do my figure skating spins and jumps the left-handed way.
>
> Sounds like me. I'm weakly right-handed -- meaning, almost
> ambidextrous:

OOh, good description! I'm the same way, and never had a way to
describe it.

However, it's *weird* when a left-handed character decides to take over
the body for a while and complains that this universe is set up for
right-handers.

--
Alanna
**********
Saying of the day:

Over the years, I've developed my sense of deja vu so acutely that now
I can remember things that *have* happened before ...

Richard Kennaway

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Jan 20, 2003, 6:29:58 PM1/20/03
to
Heather Jones <hrj...@socrates.berkeley.edu> wrote:
> My personal opinion is that the sexuality of a lead character
> ought to be determined by the requirements of the story, not by
> the entrails of the market.

What do you do if it's not determined by anything? I thinking more
generally than just sexuality, any attribute of a character. Do the
writers here find that all the details of their characters are there, in
their minds, automatically? Or is it a matter of arbitrarily choosing,
for example, what a character is going to look like, given that one does
want to describe them to the reader? People discuss plot-noodling a
lot, but I've never seen talk of character-noodling (which Googling
Usenet largely bears out).

-- Richard Kennaway

mary_...@cix.compulink.co.uk

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Jan 20, 2003, 6:44:24 PM1/20/03
to
In article <OVm$wiAlbB...@baradel.demon.co.uk>,
ken...@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this (Helen) wrote:

[...]

> Assuming the characters in the story are human, then it's rather
> difficult to portray them as asexual and still make them convincing.

Sidebar:

Unless we're back with the Legal Male/Legal Female/Legal neuter situation,
in which case there'll be an interesting tension between legal and
emotional asexuality. That could make a decent story.

Mary

Tim S

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Jan 20, 2003, 6:54:12 PM1/20/03
to

My characters generally grow out of the actions that they perform, but
sometimes turn out to belong to character types that I have been thinking
about. If I don't know what a given character would do, I sometimes analyse
their character explicitly and work out what they would do from that.

Tim

Deirdre Saoirse Moen

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Jan 20, 2003, 6:05:52 PM1/20/03
to
In article <BA4F4093.3127%rma...@sympatico.ca>, Rochelle Mazar
<rma...@sympatico.ca> wrote:

> A quick question...
>
> What do you think is the current trends viability of a non-heterosexual lead
> character? Is it still best to keep that sort of thing in the background,
> and keep main characters straight? I know there are lots of gay heroes in
> SF/F, but I wondered if anyone had a sense of where the trend is currently.

Depends.

For example, my mentor (who writes mystery) was just told that having a
gay character as a villain was *not* possible for a mystery novel from
that house. So he's having to rewrite the book with a straight villain.

To me, this is a problem: if a gay character can't be a villain, there's
an aspect of human they're not allowed to be. True, they shouldn't *only*
be villains.

I happen to have a person-whose-preferences-are-gay character in my story.
I prefer not to identify him as gay or bi, but he's definitely not
straight.

--
_Deirdre http://deirdre.net
A: No.
Q: Should I include quotations after my reply?

Mary Messall

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Jan 20, 2003, 8:34:39 PM1/20/03
to
Richard Kennaway wrote:
> What do you do if it's not determined by anything? I thinking more
> generally than just sexuality, any attribute of a character. Do the
> writers here find that all the details of their characters are there, in
> their minds, automatically? Or is it a matter of arbitrarily choosing,
> for example, what a character is going to look like, given that one does
> want to describe them to the reader? People discuss plot-noodling a
> lot, but I've never seen talk of character-noodling (which Googling
> Usenet largely bears out).

In my case, I find that my characters take shape as I rebel against
cliches. That is, if I have a hero, he initially exists in my mind as a
sort of generalized Harrison Ford. But as I tell myself the story, part
of my mind goes "This is boring. I've already seen all of Harrison
Ford's movies. If he were a real person, he wouldn't be like that
anyway. Like, he could have a kid, and couldn't afford to risk his life
that way." And then my hero has a kid. In fact, I realize, he's a
widower. And now there's a story about his wife, and what it was like
for him to lose her.

I start to write something with three women, two from earth, who meet
on this obscure planet. My inner heckler says "How come in science
fiction written by Americans, 'Earth' always means 'The US'? And
'American' always means 'white'?" And thus one of my characters is
suddenly Irish, and one of them Latina. I decided I was sick of tall
people, so my male lead in that story was short. After that I started
picturing him looking like my short friend Jon, who is Jewish, so that
character became Jewish as well...

That's how I noodle.

-Mary

Brian D. Fernald

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Jan 20, 2003, 8:49:41 PM1/20/03
to

Most of my characters are observations about real people. So a lot of
the external properties flow directly from whatever bit I've jotted down
about someone I've encountered.

Internal properties are inferred, based upon what I think they think,
and what I need them to think.

--
Brian F.
FSOBN.


John F. Eldredge

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Jan 20, 2003, 9:26:45 PM1/20/03
to
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Hash: SHA1

Do you find real-life people without much sex drive unconvincing as
humans? They don't make up a very large percentage of the total
population, but they do exist.

Melissa Scott managed the _tour de force_ of writing a novel, _The
Kindly Ones_, in first person POV without ever revealing the gender
of the protagonist, even though the book includes a (not particularly
graphic) sex scene.

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--
John F. Eldredge -- jo...@jfeldredge.com
PGP key available from http://pgp.mit.edu
"Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better
than not to think at all." -- Hypatia of Alexendria

Rochelle Mazar

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Jan 20, 2003, 8:26:05 PM1/20/03
to
"Deirdre Saoirse Moen" wrote:
> For example, my mentor (who writes mystery) was just told that having a
> gay character as a villain was *not* possible for a mystery novel from
> that house. So he's having to rewrite the book with a straight villain.

Oy. This is exactly what I was wondering about. And I'm afraid of this. I
kind of wrote myself into a hole, I think, though it works out alright in
the end. I have a sort of decoy villain in the first book of my series who
is the only obviously queer (major) character. Though this is only really
obvious to a couple of characters and the reader. But he really is just a
decoy, he's not going to be an actual thread. He's the love interest and
he's poised to be an important ally and all that jazz. He just needs a
little convincing first...

> To me, this is a problem: if a gay character can't be a villain, there's
> an aspect of human they're not allowed to be. True, they shouldn't *only*
> be villains.

Yeah, I must agree here. I can definitely understand not being tolerant of
people demonizing gay folk, or, for instance, making being gay an evil
characteristic. While everyone is saying these are no longer issues it does
seem to me that they are.

> I happen to have a person-whose-preferences-are-gay character in my story.
> I prefer not to identify him as gay or bi, but he's definitely not
> straight.

Oooooo this is interesting. I'd love to hear more about your identification
issues here. I must admit that I'm somewhat conflicted about this myself. In
my head I think I know where they're at at the heart of it, and what they do
because they feel they should. Though possibly no one but me would ever
attach those particular labels to themselves.

Would really love to hear more.

Rochelle

Elf M. Sternberg

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Jan 20, 2003, 9:41:50 PM1/20/03
to
mary_...@cix.compulink.co.uk writes:

>> Assuming the characters in the story are human, then it's rather
>> difficult to portray them as asexual and still make them convincing.

> Sidebar:

> Unless we're back with the Legal Male/Legal Female/Legal neuter situation,
> in which case there'll be an interesting tension between legal and
> emotional asexuality. That could make a decent story.

ObSF: _Distress_, by Greg Egan, in which sex reassignment
surgery is so easy and commonplace that there are seven genders: normal
male/female, extreme male/female (exceptionally beautiful), gargoyles
(in which the gender