I'm finding it very hard to write a character like me

erinxblan

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 18, 2022
Messages
106
Reaction score
103
Location
Oklahoma
I wanted to write a character like me, because I've never really seen one. I identify as asexual/aromantic when people ask, and gray-ace/gray-aro in my head, but it all feels a lot more complicated than I can easily explain to people. I have a hard time understanding myself, so I have a hard time knowing what I even want to do with my character.

I also want my character to have a romance of sorts, but I want it to look different than a "normal" romance (more like what I'd be comfortable with if I ever had a relationship), and I don't think people would like that. I don't think any publisher would want to sell it and I don't think anyone but me would want to read it. I think they'd think it was weird. Idk, I feel like I really need to make the character more digestible to people who aren't aspec. Idk, it's just frustrating.
 

Lime-Yay

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 13, 2024
Messages
169
Reaction score
266
Location
North of Canada
Cool concept, I think it could be a good read. I read a series with a demisexual MC; took him 3 books of slow burn romance but he got there in the end and it was very satisfying.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Elenitsa

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
20,369
Reaction score
24,209
Location
Aotearoa
Honestly, I think your take on it would be such a fresh, different spin that it'd be quite popular. Readers like getting into the heads of people who are unlike themselves.
 

mccardey

Self-Ban
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2010
Messages
19,467
Reaction score
16,402
Location
Australia.
Are you possibly worrying too much about labels? I think a large part of the push towards acknowledging gender outside the binary has been focused around getting rid of labels in favour of accepting authentic identities as they exist, hasn't it? Perhaps just write the character with whatever relationship to life and society they have in whatever way it they have, and don't worry too much about what the labels are?

Let the character's identity be authentic to them, regardless of how that compares with other identities.
 

L.Zihe

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 21, 2024
Messages
83
Reaction score
135
I wanted to write a character like me, because I've never really seen one. I identify as asexual/aromantic when people ask, and gray-ace/gray-aro in my head, but it all feels a lot more complicated than I can easily explain to people. I have a hard time understanding myself, so I have a hard time knowing what I even want to do with my character.
Part of the benefit of writing is you don't have to really explain - not in so many words, anyways.You don't need to explain the mechanisms of a relationship to make it make sense. Show the readers how the characters relate and how it's different from a typical romantic dynamic, and they'll understand.
I also want my character to have a romance of sorts, but I want it to look different than a "normal" romance (more like what I'd be comfortable with if I ever had a relationship), and I don't think people would like that. I don't think any publisher would want to sell it and I don't think anyone but me would want to read it. I think they'd think it was weird. Idk, I feel like I really need to make the character more digestible to people who aren't aspec. Idk, it's just frustrating.
Don't discount potential readers yet! People love getting into the heads of people unlike them, and there are also plenty of degrees and flavors of "relationship" you can already find in the romance section. Not to mention, there are a lot of ace-spec people who would love to get some good representation. And if there are potential readers, there are potential publishers. I for one would be very interested to see how this relationship would be different than what is considered "normal".
 

Lime-Yay

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 13, 2024
Messages
169
Reaction score
266
Location
North of Canada
Maybe one other thought, I think with an ace spectrum character it needs to be clear to the reader that the romance is fulfilling to the MC and that the relationship is the MC’s happy ending. I think that’s tricky compared to non-ace characters, but the harder it is, the more satisfying the payoff. I hope you can figure it out and share with us some day!
 

ElaineB

Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 4, 2022
Messages
752
Reaction score
1,694
Location
Three Pines
Website
elaineburnes.com
I write what I write because it’s what I want to read. So depending on your goal as a writer, and you might be young enough that you don’t have to commit at this point, I’d say write. Just write. Tell the story you want to tell. And if you are young, and still working things out, you might not be able to articulate it fully (I know I couldn’t), but there are bound to be readers who will identify with your character(s). (I confess I don’t know what the “gray” part of the ID means, but I’m old!) A benefit might be that as you write, you come to understand yourself more. A win all around.

Sure, finding a publisher is hard, for everyone, but there seems to be a lot of interest in other than the usual romances.

I wouldn’t make the characters more “digestible” until you get so frustrated you want to give up. Unless your goal is quick riches. Then, well, yeah. Good luck with that! :)
 

Kpopalypse

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 23, 2024
Messages
57
Reaction score
109
Personally, I'd just not even discuss it, and just let the character be it. No explanation required.

To explain what I mean by this: I wrote a novel that is (I guess) a dark comedic lesbian romance, but without giving the reader any hint in the first part of the story or even the promotional material that there's a lesbian romantic element. The reader doesn't find out until they're about twenty chapters deep that something resembling a romance is upon them, because it's written first-person and the character is growing up in an environment where lesbianism is absolutely not okay on more than one level and has internalised part of that stigma. She never says to the reader "I'm lesbian" because she doesn't even feel that good about admitting to herself that she's lesbian let alone the reader, instead she just gets put in situations and then has to deal with them, and through those experiences, things change. So if it were me trying to do what you're doing, I'd tackle it in that sort of way. You don't have to engineer conflict or trauma or politics if it's not that sort of book of course, but I would certainly go out of my way to not tell the reader directly what is going on, but rather just have the character experience the individual events and emotions that confirm it. Disclaimers: 1. this is just what I would personally do, your mileage may vary, I'm just sharing in the hope that it helps the brainstorming process 2. obviously you're taking away a big marketing point about the book depending on how much you choose to keep this aspect under wraps from the reader, so this probably isn't the optimal strategy if you want to sell books. Maybe a less extreme version of what I did is better for marketing purposes (i.e at least mention it in the promo) as I'm sure there are many readers who would love to read a story like yours, if only they could find one.
 

alexp336

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,581
Website
www.alexpendragon.com
I think, sometimes, that labels are a blessing and a curse. I know I've felt more comfortable and confident in myself when I had a "name" to explain how I'm feeling or how my brain is wired; at the same time, you can run the risk of ending up defined by your labels rather than the other way around, and it's only made all the harder when you're trying to explain what they mean to other people and so navigate both their lacking awareness and their emotional reaction to what you're telling them.

Like @mccardey, @L.Zihe and others have said, a benefit to this being your story and your characters is that you don't have to define them. Some books drop heavy hints about characters' sexuality but never put a label on it. Others leave readers to pick up the hints along the way, and piece together their own interpretation. You can be as obvious, or as veiled, as you like - and you might find, too, that after you have something on the page, you then want to go back and sharpen up lines that were only written faintly, or vice-versa.

As for whether there's an audience out there, @ElaineB is spot on: write for yourself first, because in the end that's the only reader any of us are guaranteed. But I think there's certainly a growing interest - among readers, and agents I've seen talking about it on social media - in better representing something than the familiar relationships and romances. If you can bring interesting characters to the page, and a compelling story for them to inhabit, I suspect you'll find there are people interested in engaging with that.

Sometimes our own self-doubt is the biggest barrier to starting writing.
 

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
20,369
Reaction score
24,209
Location
Aotearoa
I think, sometimes, that labels are a blessing and a curse. I know I've felt more comfortable and confident in myself when I had a "name" to explain how I'm feeling or how my brain is wired; at the same time, you can run the risk of ending up defined by your labels rather than the other way around, and it's only made all the harder when you're trying to explain what they mean to other people and so navigate both their lacking awareness and their emotional reaction to what you're telling them.

Like @mccardey, @L.Zihe and others have said, a benefit to this being your story and your characters is that you don't have to define them. Some books drop heavy hints about characters' sexuality but never put a label on it. Others leave readers to pick up the hints along the way, and piece together their own interpretation. You can be as obvious, or as veiled, as you like - and you might find, too, that after you have something on the page, you then want to go back and sharpen up lines that were only written faintly, or vice-versa.

As for whether there's an audience out there, @ElaineB is spot on: write for yourself first, because in the end that's the only reader any of us are guaranteed. But I think there's certainly a growing interest - among readers, and agents I've seen talking about it on social media - in better representing something than the familiar relationships and romances. If you can bring interesting characters to the page, and a compelling story for them to inhabit, I suspect you'll find there are people interested in engaging with that.
Yes yes yes to all of this.
Sometimes our own self-doubt is the biggest barrier to starting writing.
Only sometimes?
 

Sage

Supreme Guessinator
Staff member
Moderator
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 15, 2005
Messages
64,847
Reaction score
23,159
Age
44
Location
Cheering you all on!
I have the same problem writing an ace character as an ace person. Some of this is the pressure of "getting it right" when it's like, just write him, Sage. I know that for my own problem, part of it is that he's not the POV character either, so I'm showing this ace character from another person's eyes, but I know my feelings from the inside. Part of it, though, is feeling like "I should know this the best" and then feeling like I'm failing portraying it (nobody's read this book but me so far).

Anyway, I want to read more ace/aro (or gray or demi) rep, and I have a shelf on GR for books I find with it (usually unexpectedly).

I write YA, and I remember once upon a time, mentioning that I wanted to write an aroace MC. The responses all around me (here on AW) at the time were that YA needs to have romance, and nobody was going to want that book. But I think YA, at least, has grown so that characters all over the LGBTQIA+ spectrum are being included, and that includes occasional ace/aro characters, even MCs.
 

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
20,369
Reaction score
24,209
Location
Aotearoa
I think too for y'all who write this various stuff: Remember that people may 'become' queer/aro/ace during their life. Medications, life experiences, meeting The Right Person, whatever, can change a person's sexuality-smexytimesality (I know that's not a word, but y'all know what I mean). We're not fixed in stone. Shit happens and shit changes.

Write who you are, what you are, what you want to read. Stop and think: do you believe you are SO unique, so unusual, so one of a kind, that no one shares your mindset? (Answer: No. Set aside your hubris. You are not a unicorn. You are one of many.)

And lots of us readers are avidly awaiting stories that validate our life/self/experiences, same or similar or tangentially connected, to yours/your characters. So go forth and write. PLEASE. Please.
 
Last edited:

JoeySL

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 22, 2023
Messages
503
Reaction score
763
Location
EU
Remember that people may 'become' queer/aro/ace during their life.
Something I learned recently, which has had a huge impact on my view on life. Some things need to be spelled out on paper (display) to register as an actual thing. All the better, if it's intrinsic to the narration, not presented as an on-the-nose lecture. Just write what comes to mind, then edit and revise as any other novel later.

(deletes a whole derail on related subject that has nothing to do with OP's post... sees herself out...)
 

alexp336

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,581
Website
www.alexpendragon.com
Something I learned recently, which has had a huge impact on my view on life. Some things need to be spelled out on paper (display) to register as an actual thing. All the better, if it's intrinsic to the narration, not presented as an on-the-nose lecture. Just write what comes to mind, then edit and revise as any other novel later.

(deletes a whole derail on related subject that has nothing to do with OP's post... sees herself out...)

Now I want to see the derail, ha.

But what you and @Unimportant wrote reminded me that someone has to come first in writing everything. Someone has to be the writer who moves their queer character out of subtext and heavy hints, and into the spotlight. Which is stressful, because there's no one pattern or route to do that, but at the same time a huge opportunity as a writer (and, if the market decides to wake up on a similar timescale, plus a pinch of good luck, as a writer-wanting-to-actually-sell-stories).

Perhaps, @erinxblan, you get to be one of the first telling that particular story, and I'm excited for you!
 

Nova_H

Registered
Joined
Apr 26, 2024
Messages
9
Reaction score
9
Location
West of wonderland
It depends on how it is done rather than on what you do, more often than not. I know a lot of people who are sick of standard romance or any romance at all in fiction. There's definitely an audience for aro/ace characters and arcs!
 

BustedPrinter

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 5, 2024
Messages
191
Reaction score
251
I wanted to write a character like me, because I've never really seen one. I identify as asexual/aromantic when people ask, and gray-ace/gray-aro in my head, but it all feels a lot more complicated than I can easily explain to people. I have a hard time understanding myself, so I have a hard time knowing what I even want to do with my character.

I also want my character to have a romance of sorts, but I want it to look different than a "normal" romance (more like what I'd be comfortable with if I ever had a relationship), and I don't think people would like that. I don't think any publisher would want to sell it and I don't think anyone but me would want to read it. I think they'd think it was weird. Idk, I feel like I really need to make the character more digestible to people who aren't aspec. Idk, it's just frustrating.
I know your pain....

For what it is worth, I have brain cancer so the tumor on my pituitary (the rarest form of cancer), presses on my pituitary shutting off my testosterone output. Being a guy, I am extremely rare... I have ZERO interest in having relations even though I am not that old and have a very willing wife. It is hell on our marriage because she feels she is not attractive enough when that is not the case at all. She is a very attractive woman in all ways possible, I just have zero drive for relations. I do take Synetic testosterone but because it thickens my blood, I get seizures, so I can't take the amount I really need. My doctor says its like I am a guy having gone through menopause... I have zero interest.

But I am a writer, and like you know that romantic relationships are a HUGE part of great stories.

I am not exactly sure how your feelings are as an asexual, but I am able to still write about the romantic situations I wish I could have. I also think as a writer being an asexual helps because I am not encumbered by distracting thoughts that keep me from writing, or stories that might otherwise be overflowing with romantic plots. For me romantic plots are always sub-plots.

I am not sure how my asexual status affects my writing. I think it inevitably causes my romantic subplots to be unique because I look at romantic relationships and relations very uniquely now. This is huge for me because the first twenty years of my writing career I wrote erotica professionally. Now a novel might, or might not have a relations scene, but it depends on if the scene really drives the plot forward or not.

As for other romantic aspects? I see things far differently now. My personality type is that I also see opposing views and can see how being an asexual because of my brain cancer has negatively affected my wife. I feel for her, and constantly have to adapt so that she feels secure in our marriage. One way we do that is kiss a lot. We try to do a 10 second kiss every day because since relations are kind of non-existing in our marriage, kissing helps counter that. In my writing kissing therefore occurs a lot between characters. Not at non-plausible times, but helps fortify romance. I do feel closer to my wife however because as important as relations are in a marriage, I adore her more so because she loves me despite what she is getting, or nearly as much as she wants. In that way it is like an impaired person with hearing has more keen awareness of the other four senses they do have. Our relationship regarding money, in-laws, direction and goals is incredibly strong and similar.

My beta readers make it seem I am able to adequately pull off romance even if I am asexual though, and hope telling you all this resonates well with you.
 

Bitterboots

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 6, 2024
Messages
463
Reaction score
534
My advice is to go for it. There are lots of agents looking for authenticity in queer writing and you couldn't get more authentic. Lived experience/own stories are VERY big right now. Your questioning nature comes through in your post and I already know I'd love to meet your MC.
My feeling is, if you give it a go, not only will you create a compelling narrative, you will also answer a lot of questions you have about yourself.
Start with a short story that has a character that is basically you as your MC and see where that takes you. Everyone has hopes, dreams, obstacles, challenges, choices and love interests (even unrequited aromantic or asexual ones count).
Good luck!
 

The Second Moon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
3,425
Reaction score
419
Website
mimistromauthor.com
I'm aromantic and asexual, too. Everyone's experience as being aroace is different and your character's experience (and your own) might be hard to explain, but why I'm rooting for you to write it. Imagine if you read a book with that type of aroace rep. It would make you feel seen. I say do it.