Tag Archives: poor

Creating Characters: Breaking the Archetype – The Gay Guy

When it comes to creating a character, we writers have to be very careful to avoid many things. One of those things is the archetype. Archetypes are great for miscellaneous persons with very small roles. They are also great for satirical pieces. (The re-make of Hairspray comes to mind here haha) Other than that, I find them to be pretty flat as characters. Sticking to their stereotype is what makes them what the are, after all.

A common archetype that we see in modern media (I can’t say literature because I only really read historical romances, on the rare occasion I have a moment to read) is The Gay Guy. You know him. He’s got fabulous blonde hair, his fashion sense is trendy and drool worthy, and if you’re wearing last year’s LV, beware. He’s out for you. He wastes no time in making raunchy penis jokes and is secretly envious of your boyfriend. He’s your best girl friend. He picks our your clothes for you, waxes your brows, and will cuddle on the couch with you feeling completely safe because he’s gay.

Gag me.

As someone who comes from an incredibly gay family with a cornucopia of homosexual friends and acquaintances, I really don’t understand where this came from. But this isn’t a post about LGBT equality (I make a horrible activist), it’s about characters and my own insecurity as a writer.

I never put a character into a story just for the sake of having one. Never for the sake of being politically correct, or to embrace all walks of life. Hell, I don’t even make up my characters. They come to me.

And you know what? Like everyone else in this decade, I have a homosexual male in my cast. Two, actually. But Philip Avery is such a big part of the story (The Book of Cale in particular) that I actually get nervous talking about him and working with him for that reason. I fear the reaction of people assuming I’ve jumped onto some bandwagon. He isn’t ‘The Gay Guy’. His sexual orientation has no impact on who he is as a person, it’s just a matter of preference.

But how will  he be received? I’ve already had people ask me why I ‘made’ him gay. It wasn’t a choice, he just is. He always was, and will continue to be. I can’t change him and I don’t want to.

So I wonder, will people look at me and say, “of course she has a gay guy. Everyone has a gay guy.” because like the token black guy (which I don’t have. For no reason other than none have made their way into my head), he needs to make an appearance in order for me to be culturally acceptable.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. Realistically, so long as I do my job right, present a compelling story with characters that feel real and can be connected with, I shouldn’t worry about how someone is going to be analyzed or received. If readers can accept the homicidal psychopath that is our hero, I imagine the jaded, bearded tavern owner wiping down dirty mugs isn’t exactly a difficult man to accept.

I’m sorry he’s not fabulous. He’s just a sort-of single dad trying to make ends meet in 1784.

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Two Types of Poor

With my wedding two weeks away, I’ll admit that my internet presence may be rather scarce, and my word processing even scarcer. I did hit my word count goal for the month (10k) in three days, so I’m pretty much coasting until September, and anything that does manage to get written will be a very nice extra bit of progress.

Very rarely do I do anything consciously in my stories. Like, super rarely. I’ve said before that I don’t make decisions, the story just comes to me and I am the vessel it chose to speak through. (In an entirely figurative sense, that is.)

Let it also be said that I hate analyzing literature. This is mainly because my writing has no meaning. There is no secret message to de-code. It will never be a cry for help, or a stab at social injustice. It’s just a story. For entertainment. That is all.

I can respect the authors who do have a more cryptic form of writing, but I just don’t. Because of this, I also never ask why a character asked for his eggs poached instead of scrambled as usual. He just did and that’s all we need to know in order for the story to progress. If we do need a reasoning, it will be noted.

With that in mind, I was going through chapter two to see what I wanted to highlight and I came across a passage that initially was there only to launch my readers into an introduction of what the in-series Noble Project is actually all about. It wasn’t until I stepped back that I realized it applied to my life and something I go back and forth with inside my own head.

    The Noble Project.

    She had heard it spoken, but only in hushed tones and when people thought she might not hear. She had never considered it to be complete fact, as gossip spread and evolved rather quickly here, but now, as she stood before the parchment fluttering in the wind, she saw that it was true. Even the King’s insignia was there. This was it. This was her chance.

    Pulling the notice from the board, she held it before her, still not quite believing word had reached so far up North, to her town of miners.

    “That’s a load of pig shit, that there.”

    With a small gasp, Luke looked up to a burly man who had come up beside her.

    “It’s not,” she argued softly.

    “It is,” he insisted, “an’ if yer not careful, you’ll be put away juss’ like that mother o’ yers.”

    “My mother was not put away,” Luke huffed, turning from the man. A gust of wind came up from near knees, barreling upwards and snatching the note of The Noble Project away. She cried out in protest, but the man simply laid a hand on her shoulder to stop her from chasing after it.

    “Yer better off,” he told her.

    With a dejected sigh, Luke continued on her way to the market. If she were lucky, she’d just make it before Harry packed up.

Here we see an example of two characters, both peasants, with two very different, yet realistic views of the world. We have Luke, the dreamer, who desperately wants something more, and mystery man who doesn’t even need a name, who is happy, or at least accepting, with his position.

I’ll admit that I’m on Luke’s side of the fence. Everything I do, and every goal I achieve is simply a stepping stone to the next bigger & better thing. I set the bar extremely high for myself, and I never consider my hopes to be ‘pipe dreams’, no matter how outrageous they may seem. (Like the $800,000 house in that ritzy Boston suburb. I’ll get it. I will.)

But I know so many people who don’t want more. They’re like Mr. Mystery Man:  happy with what they have and fine exactly where they are. They don’t want fame or fortune. A big house with a big yard is just more that can go wrong, more things to clean, more to maintain.

I don’t think either Luke or Mr. Mystery Man is wrong, just different. Still, I can’t help but wonder:  when does dreaming become to much? Will it take over and turn into something ugly like dissatisfaction? But on the other hand, if you have nothing to work towards, what’s the point?

I never intended to enter into a philosophical tennis match with myself. Mr. Mystery Man was nothing more than a naysayer! Why couldn’t he stay that way?

So which one are you? Luke, Mr. Mystery Man, or something else?

Book of Luke completion progress: 9%

The Noble Project completion progress: 2%