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Writing Characters Who Aren’t Like Us

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I posed the question “Why is there no market for FF sci fi, fantasy (or romance fiction in general)?” recently in the MM Gay Sci Fi group on Facebook. There were some great, thoughtful responses to the post, but the one that struck me most came from Angel Martinez:

“even if you haven’t written a specifically F/F story – how many of you have included lesbian characters in your work?”

And I realized that I have never had a lesbian character in one of my stories. Even though they often feature gay characters, and I believe in inclusion. I have featured a character that could be called transgender, and one that was bisexual.

Which makes me ask myself, why?

Am I just uncomfortable writing something I really don’t know? Hey, straight female authors write gay characters all the time. And I have no problem writing straight characters.

Or is it just a blind spot I wasn’t aware of until now?

It can be hard writing characters you don’t know – whether they are from a different culture, different orientation, or different time. It often involves careful research and forethought.

I just recently set a story in England – a place I’ve never been – I used apple maps, considerable dialogue/language research, things I’ve watched before set in England, and finally my stepfather, Tony, who is British. It was a lot of work, but I hope the work passes muster being set in the UK with a British main character.

So how do you go about writing a character who’s nothing like you?

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