Writing Experience

10 Jul

(This is a follow-up to Importance to the Plot, in which I meanderingly decided that in my own personal writing, representing asexuality explicitly, and making it important to a story, was necessary in my writing of asexual representation.)

Creative writing is a big thing for me. And I’ve written a lot of queer characters, mainly by virtue of re-entering fandom in college after a brief dip into The Pit in middle school. I could write a long tract about how important fandom has been in my life, but that’s maybe for another time. Suffice it to say, my second fandom put me in a very accepting, and vocal, space for the first time in my life.

The fandom I frequented The Pit for has approximately three human(-ish) characters, and the predominant ship is a man and a woman. The other ship requires adding about seventeen years to the end of canon to make possible — but is two men, if you were curious. But the first ship is definitely dominant in the fanfic, or it was last time I was there.

By comparison, my new fandom has about 90 percent queer ships. I don’t know the exact numbers, but a good portion of the active community members are also LGBTQA+. Mostly due to this community, which has helped me develop my writing skills like my college creative writing class never could have, I’ve written way more queer characters than characters who are straight and cis.

I’ve probably posted maybe 200 stories of various lengths in various locations. Of unposted work, I’ve got 70+ more I’ve written for individual people, as well as too much chatfic to begin to quantify. But despite there being asexual people in my fandom, and other people who have expressed interest in asexual characters, I haven’t actually sat down and written a lot of ace fic, let alone posted any significant amount of what I have written.

Of my posted work in the past three years, I’ve written three pieces with an asexual character: two fanfic and one original. Oh, and one piece where a character was ace but I never stated it. Some of the chatfic has ace characters, but it’s definitely a minority of it.

Given the welcoming environment, the presence of other ace people, and other ace fic in the fandom, why haven’t I written more ace characters? Why haven’t I explored that more? I can think of one person who might say something ignorant, but that particular person says ignorant things all the time so it’s kind of, “Oh, bless your heart” at this point. (“Bless your heart,” for the unfamiliar, can be an insult.) It’s definitely not fear of the people in my fandom who are stopping me. And there’s nothing stopping me in the random original projects I have going on.

I think the biggest thing is that I don’t know what to write about. I mean, I have now spent a decent amount of time in ace circles, I know a bit about demi and grey orientations too, I’m not completely ignorant. And there’s being ace. But I just don’t know what to write about. I could make an asexual character, but I have no idea how to make their asexuality important to the story — I would really hate to always fall back on a romantic relationship being the only way to incorporate asexuality, because my sexuality has been important to me outside of my romantic relationship.

The times I have written asexual characters, almost always their asexuality hasn’t been a major component of the story (in one story, it was nearly the impetus of the plot, but it was written from a prompt).

I can use a romance to demonstrate someone being gay, or throw in references to exes to indicate they’re bi or pan. I can do either to indicate someone’s polyamorous. It doesn’t work that way for an invisible orientation. Not only do very few people know about us, but you can’t easily demonstrate a lack of sexual attraction. Putting asexuality into a story requires breaking the “show, don’t tell” rule — a rule I know most people are sick of hearing, but is something that usually makes for a much better story.

The thing about telling is that it works a lot better from a first-person perspective, and though I’m mixed in writing first-person and third-person in original stuff, my fanfic is predominately third-person. A first-person narrator, at least to me, can introspect with better results than when a third-person narrator peers and pries.

You could make the character themself tell, by coming out to someone, or discussing their asexuality with someone they’ve come out to out-of-scene or before the narrative began. This is hard for me to do, because when I discuss my asexuality with people, it’s usually other asexuals, in a context where everyone is talking about asexuality. I don’t really feel the urge to come out that often, so it’s hard for me to tell when that becomes important, and where it could fit into a narrative.

What I need to do, I guess, is figure out the ways asexuality has been important to me besides my romantic relationship, and the blogging, and find how to incorporate that into the story. I guess it would be things like how I thought about the future, how advertising affected me…

Though I think the character’s asexuality would still have to be stated explicitly. It is possible to avoid writing a coming out scene if you really want to. But I feel like, unless you have a coming out scene or continually bring up the asexuality explicitly or near-explicitly, a lot of people are going to be inclined to ignore it. People are inclined to ignore it in other people even when they come out, which is why, when I sit around thinking about writing ace characters, one of my biggest questions is how to make asexuality a part of the story.

I suppose it’s easier to demonstrate to an audience that a character is asexual than it is to demonstrate you’re asexual in real life. Even with third-person narrators, you can peek into a character’s thoughts. Not so possible in real life, unless, as I’ve always feared, everybody’s developed telepathy without telling me.


4 Responses to “Writing Experience”

  1. Lasciel July 10, 2011 at 9:13 PM #

    Regarding mention exes, maybe writers could mention all the people that have tried or insisted the ace character date them or relatives/friends pushing them to date/get married. Just casually, not like a big issue.

    The reason we have to ‘tell not show’ is because people insist on being so damned oblivious. You can’t hint around-I’ve had people argue with me that Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) is not an asexual. :/ Not like “oh I like to ship him with Raj so I have a different headcanon” but like seriously “There’s no way he’s an asexual.” I mean good lord, the show has done all but have him scream “I’M ASEXUAL” at the top of his lungs ):

    • ace eccentric July 10, 2011 at 11:14 PM #

      That could work fairly well for aromantic characters. Huh. That gives me an idea for how to incorporate an adult aromantic character in a YA story…

      People argue that Sheldon couldn’t possibly be asexual?! Having a headcanon for a particular ship I could understand, but … I mean, I haven’t seen TBBT in a long time, the show has nearly explicitly stated it, and seems to back it up fairly regularly. That blows my mind a little. And it’s sad :(


  1. Wednesday Linkspam « Writing From Factor X - July 13, 2011

    […] From An Asexual Space: Writing Experience […]

  2. Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions « an asexual space - August 2, 2011

    […] continuum characters (ex. my posts on being concerned about how to talk about asexuality and my own experience in writing) – Fanfic and fanart – Original stories or artwork – Why media representation is important to […]

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