I’ve finally built up a nice series of essays on writing asexuality and asexual characters in fiction. Here they are, all together in one place. They’re intended to be useful for asexual and non-asexual writers alike. They are also meant to be inclusive of gray-asexual and demisexual characters, although my knowledge is limited there.
These essays assume you already have a basic knowledge of what asexuality means: a general lack of sexual attraction to other people. This is not Asexuality 101; for that, check out the links on my resources page.
- Character Development Questions
- Demisexual Characters and Relationships
- Glossary of Words and Concepts Used in Asexual Communities
- Fetishization of Asexuality
- How to Show That a Character is Asexual
- Negative Responses Asexual Characters May Get When Coming Out
- Plot Ideas
- Potential Sources of Conflict For Asexual Characters
- Sex Scenes with Asexual Characters
- Stereotypes to Avoid
Other potentially relevant topics
- Aromanticism 101
- Aromantic Representation, or Lack Thereof
- Lithromantic Story Prompts
- Relationships That I Want to See More of in Fiction
- Sherlock Holmes as an Asexual Character - May be useful if you need an example or inspiration for how asexuality can influence a character and their relationships.
This post may be updated in the future as I write more stuff on this subject; I’ll link to it from my blog’s homepage so it’s easy to find.
Nobody likes a perfect character. Someone who is super good at everything and gets everything right is annoying.
Even the most suave secret agents of indestructible superheroes need to make mistakes in order to make the story interesting.
There are two parts to using wrongness in a story. There’s the actual mistake (which sometimes isn’t known to be a mistake at the time), and there’s the consequences of the mistake, usually forcing the character to deal with powerful feeling of guilt or regret.
Run by a clinical psychologist, Archetype is the fiction writer’s guide using psychology accurately in fiction. Q&A, resources, creative prompts, and media portrayals!
Worth checking out!
There are a lot of things that go into creating a super powered being, and all of them can be boiled down to two words: back story. You have to decide what power they have, how they got it, when it showed up, and a million other things before actually writing out the good parts. However, developing the super hero (or villain) is a bit more complicated.
The first thing to do with the development of a super is to teach them how to use their power. This can be a lot of fun because it gives you the chance to have your character make a lot of mistakes. The character is brand new to this and has no idea what the limits to this power are, or even if there are limits. So this is your chance to have them turn invisible in the middle of a first date, tear their car door off, or burn down the model airplane they’ve been working on forever. Teaching your character how to use their power can also help develop the super as a character. It helps to show how they handle different situations, or how they think about the world and the people in it.
The important thing to remember about super heroes and villains is that deep down they’re still human. They have the same wants, needs and motives as anyone else: love, greed, sympathy, anger, etc. However, what makes them interesting is the fact that they have power. They have abilities that no one else has, and that’s where writing these characters gets really interesting. Once the character has these powers (and knows how to use them) the logical next step is to make the “big decision.” Are they a hero or a villain. In comic books the decision to be a hero or a villain is almost always made after a major life event. This can be the death of a loved one, being framed for a crime, sometimes even after the character’s own death. What the writer has to think about is how the character deals with the particular event. This is just like any character development, but with the addition of powers. This may not seem like a huge addition, but it is, and this is because it gives a lot of possibilities for a reaction scene.
After any huge life event a person is going to feel a very strong emotion or maybe a bundle of emotions they can’t easily untangle. The trick to this part is figuring out how the power plays into it. When people are sad they cry, then they’re scared they scream and run away, when they’re happy they jump up and down, however, these aren’t just ordinary people. The tricky part (and often the fun one) is to figure out how the power reacts to this emotional cacophony. There’s a ton of different ways to do anything and the best part is it’s all up to you.
Do you have any advice on creating the motivations and wants of a character? I’m afraid all of them for my characters are based around the same kinds of things, so how do you get diversity? And what’s the basis of developing a character’s motivations and wants at all?- anonymous
Your characters’ motivations, needs and goals are going to be what drives the plot. Kurt Vonnegut once said that every character should want something, even if it’s just a glass of water. This is really wise advice, because your characters’ goals are going to be what actually moves the action forward. Your conflict needs to revolve around the needs and goals of your characters, and they should act accordingly to their motivations to keep the story going.
Knowing your characters is really important. Before you start thinking about their goals and motivations, ask yourself who they are, what brought them here, what would be their “happy ending”. These questions should help you recognize the essence of your characters’ goals and motivations, but you need more. You need to go in depth with their needs and their wishes in order to be able to let your readers relate to them.
× Write a small biography of your character. When you’re struggling with something related to your characters, I recommend writing a small biography that helps you getting to know them. It’s important for you to know their back story. Whatever happened in your characters’ past is going to make them want to spark the conflict, so you need to know what that is. Remember that your readers don’t need to know as much as you do, because no one knows your characters as well as you. Allow yourself some time to work on your characters’ lives before your book started, and you should be able to recognize what sparked their will to make something change.
× What is your character’s goal? What do they want to achieve? The interesting thing about this is that your character’s personality will tell you what would be their happy ending. Your Main Character is probably having a bigger goal, such as winning a battle, saving their nation, taking down their enemy… What your Main Character wants to achieve will probably be what your conflict revolves around, but this doesn’t mean the other characters should be neglected. Again, every character needs to want something. If you know your characters well, you’ll know what they can’t help but want. Your shy character might want to become a social butterfly. That character that was sexually abused as a child might want to be able to become physical with someone without letting the memories hurt. It all depends on your character’s personality and back story, hence why it’s crucial that you have a clear idea of who they are and who they were.
× Create a timeline. Biographies are good, but they don’t give you a clear idea of the exact turning points in your character’s lives. So besides writing a quick biography, you should also have a timeline that allows you to understand the whys, whens and whats that strongly influenced your characters’ lives. When you’re able to identify the turning points in their lives, try to understand what changed. What was your character goal before this change, and what are they now? What could happen that would make your characters’ goals more prominent? Invest in that.
× Diversity. Diversity comes naturally when you have rounded characters. Since each character should be their own person, they’ll have unique personality traits and backgrounds that will set them apart. These differences will tell you exactly how their motivations and goals and wants will be different. However, it can also be interesting to explore the concept of people with completely different personalities having the same motivations or goals or wants. It’s okay to have characters that were influenced by the same factors, as long as there is a logical explanation for that fact.
× Your Reader doesn’t need to know everything. You don’t need to make it crystal clear to your reader what the motivations, needs and goals of your characters are. It’s okay to keep them guessing. You have to have a general idea of where your character is trying to go, but the reader doesn’t need to know as much as you do. Don’t worry too much about making these things too prominent, because the readers like to have room to relate to their characters. If your characters have interesting, relatable personality traits, your readers are likely to find a bit of themselves in at least some of your characters and, eventually, develop their own goals for these characters.
There are some lists around tumblr that might give you ideas about personality traits to give your characters. You can try to use this list for inspiration to create rounder characters that give you a better idea of what they want and where they’ve been.
- Positive Personality Traits
- Character Trait Cheat Sheet
- Underused Personalities/Traits
- List of Personality Traits
All in all, never forget that your character’s personality, upbringing and culture will always influence their motivations, wants and goals. Let them tell you what they’re here for, where they’ve been and what they need.
(I thought this was a useful and insightful video about writing female protagonists. Hopefully you’ll think so too. -C)
While we’re on the subject of what to call family members…
This is so much more complicated that just what country your character is from or what culture they belong to. As an example, I will give you some insight into my family dynamics:
So much is dependent on the age of your character, family dynamics, personal preference, and sometimes just mood. The micro-culture of your character’s family is going to dictate their in-group dynamics, and that is something you develop for your story just like it develops for real families over the years they spend together.
Am I saying that you need to have five different names for every person in the family? No way! That could get very complicated for readers! I’m saying that there are many factors contributing to familiar names.
Family members are often around each other a lot and therefore have many opportunities to develop nicknames or familiar names for each other. This is worth considering. It’s worth exploring far more deeply that the surface level of the language spoken between the characters or even the predominant culture of which they are a part. Who says they’re part of only one culture, anyway? That’s a whole new set of complications!
Families are dynamic. They’re complex. My point here is that there’s a lot of room to play around with familiar names, and that’s at least worth considering.
Thanks for reading!
Anonymous asked: /post/70515465859 can you please explain this more ? for those who is confused about this post ( which is me and someone else )
(More hard-boiled opinion-giving from C to follow.)
Okay, anon is talking about this picture of a quote we reblogged a while ago. Since Robert McKee, the author of this book, called Story, used close, character-oriented examples to illustrate his points rather than broad, plot-oriented examples, I will try (and fail) to do the same.
For example, we can assume that (most) characters are born. In a conversation, this fact can be omitted. We know.
We can also omit other, more applicable extraneous details. Consider this little segment:
I drove to CeeCee’s Italian Cuisine. I parked, got out of my car, and locked it. I put my keys into my right-hand jacket pocket and walked into the restaurant.
Under most circumstances, this is way too much detail for the readers. We can assume things like the character got out of the car. We can assume that the character stowed her keys somewhere on her person. We don’t need to be told that, either in exposition or through dialogue, unless it is somehow meaningful. Maybe she lost her keys and is retracing her steps. That would make the reader’s knowledge that the last place she had her keys was in her right-hand jacket pocket meaningful, maybe.
Regardless, we don’t need to know every step of the process unless it’s important—and I mean critical—to know. This decision of what is critical and what is not is primarily a matter of style. It can be honed through practice and experience. Eventually, knowing what to include and what to prune becomes second-nature for a writer.
013. HOW TO PICK A CHARACTER’S NAME
Now, picking a character’s name may seem easy, but there’s still some who don’t know exactly what goes into a name and how it may affect other players (or characters) to see you as a player (or your character as a person). This is a mix of explaining what you should think about when picking a character’s name, and showing you how I pick my characters’ names. By no means do you have to use this, explicitly heed this or follow this step by step. It’s really just to give you an insight. REQUESTED BY: WRITEWORLD
SWEET BIPPIES IT’S DONE!
THANK YOU! (Everyone go read!)
Cacoo is awesome (it’s what I use now) for this sort of thing, but here is a list of a few Family Tree Makers as well. I find that the Family Tree Makers can be a bit limiting, so I use diagram software—that’s something like Cacoo—instead.
I’m sure our followers will have other suggestions for you!
Thank you for your question!