Recently, I picked up The Cruel Prince, a book that made it clear the sexual orientations of the characters did not matter. There were LGBTQ+ relationships in the background, and homophobia was only referenced after the characters entered the human world.
LGBTQ+ characters are vital in any novel (be on the lookout for a post explaining why!), but fantasy has a choice with homophobia. Most books set in the real world do not. Most LGBTQ+ people have to come to grips with homophobia, whether that be upsetting news about the consequences of being LGBTQ+ in another nation or living in an unaccepting area themselves.
So, how do you write it?
It’s 2am and you’re sitting on your bed, pillow against your back, laptop dimmed and a blank document lies in front of you. Your family is asleep and your life at school floats to the back of your mind. There is a soft aching in your chest, where your heart should be but you no longer feel its presence. You look out the window and it’s pitch dark, with only the grids of office windows alight. They form a pattern in the night, so distortedly assembled yet silently rhythmic. The hurting travels from your heart up to your mind. You are tired of being human.
Maybe that’ll be the first line: i am tired of being human.
If you’re writing a book for the first time, especially from more than one character’s point of view, balancing your characters can be tricky. Have you noticed that all your characters sound or act the same? Here’s how to make them sound unique without being caricatures. Here’s how to find your voice.
Similar to tone, voice is the way an author describes things. I’m writing in a voice right now! A voice I hope is informative, casual, and encouraging.
Almost every bubbly youth who has read Little Women can relate to the free-spirited, tomboyish, enthusiastic, and sensitive heroine of the timeless American classic. Jo March, however, was a lot more than just a rebel of the conventional ways and norms, she was well and truly the upholder of the modern, open, passionate craft of writing.
Creating an authentic character means putting in an effort. When it comes to bisexuality, I struggle to find books where I feel like a bisexual character is given a personality. Or worse, it’s highly eluded in their actions that they’re bisexual, but the canon never confirms these speculations. Writing bisexual characters doesn’t have to be hard, if the characters are developed. Also: The Young Writer’s Initiative, the companion group to JUVEN, is a great spot to get feedback from other young readers/writers for your project. And when in doubt, it’s okay to ask a bisexual person to look over your character’s interactions to see if they’re realistic or stereotypical.
We’ve all been there as a writer – staring at a blank page, willing the words to write themselves. Writer’s block is one of the most frustrating aspects of being a writer. Many famous and well-loved writers have admitted that it took them hours, days, months, or even years to get the words on the page. Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal, “Prose writing has become a phobia to me: my mind shuts & I clench. I can’t, or won’t, come clear with a plot.” Virginia Woolf, from A Writer’s Diary, wrote, “And I ought to be writing Jacob’s Room; and I can’t, and instead I shall write down the reason why I can’t.” Finally, Iris Murdoch, in a 1943 letter, wrote, “Do I write? I’ve written only three poems & no prose in the last year. Just before that, I wrote quite a little prose…But at the moment I’m writing nothing nor do I feel the urge to write.”
Pretty dramatic, right?
The point is, every writer gets writer’s block, but it’s absolutely essential that you continue writing in order to produce a story that you can edit and improve upon. Some common causes of writer’s block include fear, timing, and perfection.
Comics — formally known as “sequential art” — provide a unique form of storytelling that attracts all sorts of creators. The blending of images and text work together to express characters and nuance images in a way that’s different from normal books and poems, appealing to creators including U.S. Congressman John Lewis (March) and actor George Takei (They Called Us Enemy).
Many LGBTQ+ creators have turned to this playful art form in order to tell their stories. In a lot of comic shops nowadays, you’ll find an entire shelf dedicated to LGBTQ+ comics and writers. Here are some titles to read:
I’ll admit it--I’m much more into lit fic, classics, biographies, and poetry than I have ever been into fantasy. But that interest has taught me a thing or two about creating characters that hold their pain in the subtlest and most realistic of ways, that feel less like characters and more like people you’d meet on the street, that are flawed and not-necessarily loved, but always devastatingly human.
And it is to my belief that they can be applied to fantasy to make your characters more real--less Divergent and more Six of Crows.
Tolkien started with elvish languages, Margaret Atwood with how her character eats breakfast. And you? You can start anywhere you'd like. In fact, you probably already have. But if you're officially lost on what next? or caught in the muddle of how the architecture of the place makes zero sense with the climate? Wondering what holes there are in the world you've created?
Worldbuilding is strange. Forget about one thing and suddenly your whole society is broken. So take the mnemonic EPIC LANDS (all credit to u/mr_nefarious_ on reddit!):
“The best flash fiction changes my life. Full stop. If a story leaves me with wonder, dread, hope, or disgust, then it has done its work.”
What is flash fiction? At bare minimum, flash fiction is a story under 1,000 words (1,250 if you’re pushing it). But great flash fiction does so much more