On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your own.

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    Wordsmith unrepentantAuthor's Avatar
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    Default On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your own.

    Some phenomenally huge proportion of original trainer characters in fanfiction, at least in my experience, are North American teenagers with very similar characteristics to their North American teenage authors. Recently on this forum I saw a post by a girl who claimed that writing a female character gave her positive feelings she didn't get from writing males, which made me notice this trend anew and think on it from a different angle. Perhaps many people simply 'write what they know' - their own experience of life and their own traits?

    So, I was wondering, who here finds difficulty in write a character that is not your own gender?

    When I was younger, I found it uncomfortable to write female characters, (I am phenotypically male), because I always felt I didn't understand the 'female mentality'. These days, as a more enlightened human being who actually talks to girls - far more than my male peers, it turns out - I often have female characters as my main protagonists. I honestly feel there's no intrinsic differences of personality between the sexes: sure, there are physical ones, and some mental ones such as the "multitasking/spatial awareness tradeoff" but I believe that gender is so unimportant to a character that I often leave that decision until last when creating characters.

    In fact, this issue is more than just gender. What about race? I make it a rule for myself never to have more than a third of my human casts be caucasian. What about faith? As someone disillusioned with religion, I rarely even mention in while writing, but the overabundance of Christianity makes me want to write a Muslim character. (Is that a result of the anti-Arab culture in the US, perhaps? Do Americans fear radical Islam too much to write sane, moral believers?) What about sexuality? As someone who is demisexual - that is, unable to experience sexual attraction except in very specific circumstances, with strong emotional attachment as a prerequisite - I find this issue particularly fascinating, because of how uncomfortable many straight people are with writing homosexual characters. For me, writing any sexual attraction into my characters is a strange experience, as I barely understand it myself. Regardless, it's no real obstacle for me, and I can identify with a character who is nothing like me on the outside, because there is something common to all of us ; human nature, which transcends boundaries of culture, time or circumstance, for good or ill. Hence, an Indonesian, Islamic, lesbian woman can seem as close to me as an asexual caucasian male.

    Your thoughts, Bulbagarden?

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    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Hmm, most of my main characters tend to be white teenage/adult males, it's true. I'm not at all averse to including people of different race in the supporting casts, though, whether they be Hispanic, African, European or whatever. I just find that it's a bit more difficult in Pokemon fanfiction, because it kind of seems that there is no Africa, no Italy, no Brazil to draw from. (We can argue this all night, I guess, but my personal headcanon doesn't have any real-world countries in it. There are unspecified equivalents, though.) Champion Game has a Russian (well, equivalent) and an Italian in the supporting cast, as well as a probably higher-than-average ratio of females. My main characters, though . . . yeah, as I say, they're mostly that one bracket.

    As for religion, I don't really consider it when writing. In my Pokemon headcanon, Christianity, Islam and so on don't exist. In my original fiction, it's just not something that I take into account. That's partially because I don't trust myself to handle it entirely sensitively, having broken with my childhood religion relatively recently, leaving a whole stew of negative feelings behind. Still, though, I think religion shouldn't be a big deal in the formation of a character. I'm more interested in their moral code, for instance, than the mythology they subscribe to which dictates that code.
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    When I began writing, I had a strong preference towards female characters. Being female myself, I didn't really notice this for quite some time. When I did, I made it a challenge to myself to write a male character that was on par with the female ones I had been writing. For a while after that, I actually became more comfortable writing male characters than female ones. Now, it seems that I've slipped into more of a balance, but I think that's really a product of creating the right character for the right story. The same goes for sexuality; I personally identify as bi (though with a strong preference towards men, given the option, and I'm currently in a wonderful, committed relationship with my boyfriend), but I've written characters of both genders and of multiple sexualities. None of these things have to define a character, unless their sexuality is part of the story.

    Religion is...tricky. As a rule, I try to avoid writing about real-world religions altogether. However, this is mainly to avoid insulting or otherwise offending any readers of a particular religion. I think it's partially why I like writing fantasy so much - I can make up my own religion and my own rules. Race is also tricky; again, being white, I feel like I have to tread a fine line. Do I avoid writing "colored" people so as to avoid potentially offending someone who isn't white? Or does having a predominantly white cast make me racist? Ultimately, it all comes back down to the character. I try to make race matter as little as possible unless I happen to be focusing on it, and oftentimes I won't mention it at all.

    My personal belief is that creating the right character for the story is the most important thing. Unless issues of race, gender, faith, or sexuality are a focus of the story, they should only be used to give depth to a character, and never to outright define them.
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    I find this a very interesting topic, with no clear answer.

    For me, I think the basis for writing a character should be whether you can truly get into their head. I think it's actually very common for writers to assume they can get into a certain character's head, and even think they have after writing them, but when it is read by someone else later, particularly someone of that group (but even people not of that group) the character can seem to be lacking depth, or excessively simplistic.

    I think there are certain groups who typically have an easier time writing certain other groups.

    For example, I think most people can write without an enormous amount of trouble, a character who is younger than them, but are much more likely to have trouble writing a character who is older than them. Every time I get older and mature, I feel like my consciousness expands, and I appreciate things that I did not appreciate when I was younger. Some of the things that I have heard people who are 40-50 say make me think that I can't really appreciate their experience, and I couldn't write a full length story with someone of that age as the main character. That's not to say I think all older people are smarter than all younger people, but that no one can really fully appreciate what it means to be an age that they are not, unless they are also of that specific age. (If people aged backwards and somehow had the exact same experience at every year, then it would be older people who had a tougher time writing younger people.) This doesn't mean that I don't include older characters within the cast of a story, or even as one of the main supporting characters, but I find that if you are making a character your central character, you need to know them completely, and I think that is very difficult to do with someone who is considerably older than you. (There are obviously exceptions to this. For example, someone who has spent a lot of time with older people may have less difficulty.)

    The gender issue is an interesting one, and one that has changed over recent years. Now, I agree with what uA says that there are few inherent differences between men and women, but there are socio-culturally enforced differences. That is, men and women do adapt to our society and culture in different ways, and that makes the experiences of men and women somewhat different. It is for this reason why male authors are often able to write a wider spectrum of different male characters, while having fairly samey female characters, and the opposite applies to female authors (although to a lesser extent, as I'm about to explain). Of course, you don't have to have experienced something personally to be able to appreciate it (as I touched on when I was discussing age). With enough exposure, you can appreciate enough about someone in a very different life to you to write about them. What's interesting is that invariably, published male authors (including many very good authors) who wrote female characters before the 80s wrote very bad female characters. This is because historically, male experience has dominated Western culture, with women being marginalised. This means that women were able to appreciate much of what it meant to be a man that wasn't applicable to women, but the reverse wasn't true. This is a trend that has enormously shifted, but it's still far more common for female authors to write male characters than it is for male authors to write female characters. My advice is, if you want to write a character of the opposite gender, do it, but make sure you know how to do it first.

    Religion is similar to the above, but different in that I think there are a lot of people who can write both atheist and religious characters because of their upbringing, and how it has affected them. I think someone who has been raised religious, and then has abandoned religion is likely to be able to write a good account of a person who subscribes to the religion that they were brought in and similar ones. Similarly, someone who was not brought up religious, but somehow ended up in a religious community can probably do the same. Likewise, I think someone who is religious, but has either been brought up as an atheist or has lived in an atheist community of some kind is likely to be able to write both kinds of characters. Whereas, someone who has only had atheist experience or only had religious experience is unlikely to be able to write the other side. The clincher for me, is whether you know people who are of the kind you are trying to write, and whether you can truly understand their experience etc. (Of course, being religious doesn't necessarily enable you to write about people who belong to other religions, people who follow religion to varying degrees, or people who use religion in a different way - it's a pretty broad spectrum.)

    Culturally, I think Americans have it the hardest. I think it's more difficult for them to write people of other cultures than anyone else in the world, purely because the US completely dominates the world's media. I think people from places like the UK and Canada are likely to be relatively able to write Americans while Americans may not be as able to do the reverse (perhaps Canada, because, having been to both several times, Canada and the US have always seemed relatively similar to me - more similar than either of them would ever be willing to admit, certainly) Similarly, I think countries that are part of the Commonwealth, or used to be part of the British Empire are likely to be able to write British characters, while British writers are unlikely to be able to do the reverse.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    With religion, I think, it'd be essential to first isolate a specific sect or denomination you want the character to be involved in, and then do copious amounts of research into that sect/denomination to become familiar with its traditions, dogma, and rituals.

    As for characters who are gay, I just write them like my straight characters, only they're interested in people of their own sex. It's not a really big deal for my story, haha.

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    Wordsmith unrepentantAuthor's Avatar
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Quote Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
    I just find that it's a bit more difficult in Pokemon fanfiction, because it kind of seems that there is no Africa, no Italy, no Brazil to draw from.
    This is a good point, but I hold that it is irrelevant. The canon is extremely inconsistent on the subject, with Lt Surge being American, and Mewtwo being Brazilian (not explicitly, but he was born in the Amazon in game canon), while the regions of pokémon seem to contradict the doctrine that Earth is represented. In my works I either ignore the issue completely or take the approach that pokémon is set in an alternate universe Japan. After all, Kanto/Johto correspond to Honshu, Hoenn to Kyushu and Sinnoh to Hokkaido. There is even a Kanto region in Japan that matches pokémon's Kanto. Unova is more ambiguous but best matches New York. As a result of all this, I simply decide to disregard the 'world' my stories are set in and have whatever races I choose. I can always use immigration as justification, though I acknowledge Japan has a fairly isolationist culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
    As for religion, I don't really consider it when writing. In my Pokemon headcanon, Christianity, Islam and so on don't exist. In my original fiction, it's just not something that I take into account. That's partially because I don't trust myself to handle it entirely sensitively, having broken with my childhood religion relatively recently, leaving a whole stew of negative feelings behind. Still, though, I think religion shouldn't be a big deal in the formation of a character. I'm more interested in their moral code, for instance, than the mythology they subscribe to which dictates that code.
    Neither do real world faiths exist in my stories, but there is a general trend for Christianity to be over-represented which I think is indicative of a cultural ignorance in the west of other faiths. As with any such imbalance, I take it upon myself to do my part in correcting it. I don't have much concern about my ability to write sensitively, but I suspect offending someone of faith is inevitable.

    I agree wholeheartedly that moral systems are infinitely more valuable in the creation of characters than faiths. A religion, after all, does not define a person. Their ethics, however, do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feliciano View Post
    I've slipped into more of a balance, but I think that's really a product of creating the right character for the right story. ... None of these things have to define a character, unless their sexuality is part of the story.
    Yes, it's actually a slightly worrisome idea that one's ethnicity might define you. Culture perhaps, but not genetic, inborn traits. Interesting point about sexuality or other traits defining the character if it's part of the story; myself, I would only adopt that approach if I had the explicit intention of discussing such things through the story. Different Eyes is not a story about gender, faith or race, it is a story about being human, and all the implications of that. Now, one of my other projects, an original work I won't go into detail about, is about little else but gender, race and faith, haha! It's subjective, like everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feliciano View Post
    Do I avoid writing "colored" people so as to avoid potentially offending someone who isn't white? Or does having a predominantly white cast make me racist? Ultimately, it all comes back down to the character. I try to make race matter as little as possible unless I happen to be focusing on it, and oftentimes I won't mention it at all.
    Not mentioning it is a good policy. A friend of mine is writing a black character but waits for some time before actually mentioning it, because it amuses her to see how many people are surprised. Doesn't that say something about how much we assume? It would be nice if we simply didn't think of race as mattering, and ignoring it completely is a possible route to that. On the other hand, race is definitely a contentious issue in this era, and ignoring it might passively permit the continuance of "caucasian-centric" world views. While there is inequality, I believe it should be brought attention to. It would also be good if we didn't fear that writing someone of a different ethnicity would automatically risk offending people - because that implies we cannot relate to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    For me, I think the basis for writing a character should be whether you can truly get into their head. I think there are certain groups who typically have an easier time writing certain other groups.
    I've seen quite shocking examples of people - normally caucasian, Christian, etc - trying and failing to write characters 'different' from themselves. Often, they betray unconscious prejudices and ignorance. These are not malicious and should be corrected, obviously, and attempting to write characters unlike oneself and looking closely at the result is an excellent way of improving oneself as a person. Of course, other times the failures are so great that a wikipedia binge is in order; I once experienced great pain at the revelation that a classmate thought "African" was a language, and similar chagrin when a different classmate equated all east Asian countries as "looking the same". I despise my privileged background, I'm sure you can tell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    Now, I agree with what uA says that there are few inherent differences between men and women, but there are socio-culturally enforced differences. That is, men and women do adapt to our society and culture in different ways, and that makes the experiences of men and women somewhat different. This is because historically, male experience has dominated Western culture, with women being marginalised. This means that women were able to appreciate much of what it meant to be a man that wasn't applicable to women, but the reverse wasn't true. This is a trend that has enormously shifted, but it's still far more common for female authors to write male characters than it is for male authors to write female characters. My advice is, if you want to write a character of the opposite gender, do it, but make sure you know how to do it first.
    This is, tragically, very true. In virtually all cases, I'd agree that extensive effort into understanding the average mindset of the opposite gender - with the understanding that men and women are not monolithic, homogenous groups - is essential. After all, if you think about the existence of transsexuals etc, you begin to understand it's just a spectrum, not a binary. I merely skip this step by ignoring gender entirely, which will hopefully be the norm by the end of the century. I am very grateful that from an early age I insulated myself from the gender binary, and as a result am largely free of a belief in either 'masculinity' or 'femininity' as the West understands them. I'm merely ME. I don't so much write characters of 'another gender' as I just write characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    Religion is similar to the above, but different in that I think there are a lot of people who can write both atheist and religious characters because of their upbringing, and how it has affected them.
    As an atheist - one whose beliefs are yet to become firmly consistent - who was raised to believe in several variations on Christianity, I can attest to the validity of this point. Having experienced both belief and non-belief, I feel able to write characters of both kinds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    Culturally, I think Americans have it the hardest. I think it's more difficult for them to write people of other cultures than anyone else in the world, purely because the US completely dominates the world's media. I think people from places like the UK and Canada are likely to be relatively able to write Americans while Americans may not be as able to do the reverse. Similarly, I think countries that are part of the Commonwealth, or used to be part of the British Empire are likely to be able to write British characters, while British writers are unlikely to be able to do the reverse.
    The issue with America - and this is an understanding borne out of lengthy discussion with a great number of intelligent and worldly US citizens - is that its people are insulated from the wider world. I've seen satirical cartoons of a 'World Map' that consists of nothing but North America and half a dozen other countries, with the US being radically enlarged. The US is not a cultural melting pot, rather, it is a culture of conflict. Different demographics exist at odds with each other. Not only that, but the history taught in US schools is almost exclusively about a very limited, revisionist interpretation of US history that glorifies the country over all others in jingoistic displays where diplomacy is ridiculed and wars of intervention glorified. In such an environment, one so hostile to the understanding of experiences other than that of typical Americans, it is unsurprising that US media has such an enormous imbalance in representation.

    That might seem harsh to any of my fellow forumites who hail from the States, but I am strong in my conviction that any nominally representational democracy whose senate's female members make up less than 20% of its total composition is a fundamentally diseased one. And one most certainly not conducive to promoting an understanding of others.

    Lastly, your point about British nationals and their ability to write characters from Commonwealth countries seems an apt one. It's difficult to assess exactly how unilateral the cultural osmosis of the Empire was, but I'd say it was heavily weighted towards the colonies. I wouldn't shy away from writing Canadian, Australian or Indian characters necessarily, but I imagine I'd take more care than if I were writing an Englishman.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Writing female characters I can do, characters of other races I can do (But I don't very often as it seems a lot of the characters in the anime are very similar).

    Faith would be hard, as a Christian, I would have a hard time doing a Muslim character because I don't agree with it and because I don't really know too much about Muslim. (Don't get me wrong though, I don't hold anything against Muslims). Although I typically keep religion out of my fictions, I don't say anybody is of any type of religion, I just keep it unspecified.

    Sexuality would be hard as well, I don't really think I could write a gay character, it's just unearthly to me (especially Male x male) (I don't hold anything against gay people either)

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    >Majority of main character(s) in my novel birds:
    I dunno, do different species of birds count as races? I am writing in the point of veiw of four male birds, three female birds, three male humans, two female humans, a sun god, and a dog, all the humans bein' varied in race (native american to mexican to white, to african american), and religions (Christianity to Aethiesm (for the birds, they believe in various native american religions, dead or not, unless they too are Aethiest) to native american (themselves) to Jewish).
    Never really made a character a different sexuality, besides maybe asexual. I tend to keep away from the subject, which I guess has to do with my age I guess (or maybe not, maybe my state of mind).
    Their ages vary from 13 to 56 (all translated best to human years)
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    Super varied, considering both of my current ones take place in Unova, which mirrors america/the area around me. To Derrick, a part-Native Unovan, Cheren, Kantoniese, and Bianca, white. To (in my separate, gijinka run, which can really help me experiment with various skin colors) Cory, Hugh, and Nikky, white, and african unovan, and everybody that shows up in either run and those in the future, and all grow up eventually, and those who preceeded before them. Once again, I try to stay away from the matters of sexuality.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Quote Originally Posted by The Shiny Gengar View Post
    Faith would be hard, as a Christian, I would have a hard time doing a Muslim character because I don't agree with it and because I don't really know too much about Muslim.
    No, you know so little that you don't even know the faith is known as Islam, not 'Muslim'. I strongly suggest you learn about the tenets of that religion before condemning it. How can you disagree with something without knowing the first thing about it? And this from a man who follows an Abrahamaic faith extremely similar in its basis to Islam... how absurd. Even if your ignorance was acceptable, there is no logical reason to suggest that disagreeing with the faith should give you difficulty writing about an Islamic character, if you genuinely held no prejudice against Islam. I don't mean to imply that it is necessary to write Islamic characters, merely that your justification holds no water and implies unfortunate things about yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Shiny Gengar View Post
    Sexuality would be hard as well, I don't really think I could write a gay character, it's just unearthly to me (especially Male x male)
    That is factually and morally reprehensible. I shall begin by pointing out that homosexual behaviors have been documented in a large number of species, notable the bonobo, one of humanity's closest genetic relatives. This would suggest homosexuality was pretty earthly, but your classification of it 'unearthly' is nonsensical in the first place given that it does in fact take place on Earth, as opposed to Ganymede. In any case, there's nothing 'unnatural' about homosexuality. Even if it were, the very forum you are perusing most certainly did not occur naturally, nor did almost any imaginable facet of your life. Furthermore, homosexuality is as equally valid and beautiful a form of love as heterosexuality.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    The setting should be taken into consideration...
    As far as culture goes, in a Pokémon fanfic theoretically most people should be Japanese (as the Pokémon world is pretty much based on a Westernized version of Japan with a few references to America (i.e. Hollywood in the anime and Unova in the games) and a few references to other countries (Guyana, Germany, etc.)). However, there really isn't much in the anime / games that is specific to Japan... thy have the rice balls and the ramen and occassionally a Japanese-styled town or clothing, but in general it is very Western. So writing it from an American standpoint isn't all that bad.
    And I think that it is definitely easier to write about a culture that the writer is familiar with rather than a different culture, i.e. if I wrote about a tribal African village then all I'd have to draw from are stereotypical / cliche ideas which may or may not even be accurate (unless I do some research into it).

    Race - Race isn't really all that important... I see no need to even mention it unless you're trying to convey an appearance (like, a person is black or Indian or something). Unless you're going for something directly related to race, such as including a group of racists and you want to portray a character as being discriminated against and express his feelings in regards to that, etc. I really don't write about other races, because of the same reasons as the culture aspect... if I'm unfamiliar then I won't be able to do as good a job of portraying them. For instance, if I write about a black person, I may end up relying on stereotypes in order to exaggerate the fact that the character isn't white. The problem is that a stereotype isn't always fair.

    Gender - This isn't a problem. Ignoring stereotypes, males and females are almost exactly the same. Neither really behaves any differently from the other. I could basically take Ash and introduce him in the first episode as a female and you'd never even guess that she was ever intended to be a male (ignoring the very few occassions where gender was emphasized in his character, like in The School of Hard-knocks and that Erika episode). You don't have to be able to identify with a particular gender to write about it effectively.

    Religion - This is completely irrelevant in a Pokémon fanfic as no religious references are ever made except for the fact that people seem to worship certain Pokémon in certain cases. Other than that, they had Christmas, which was shown from the secular standpoint and had nothing to do with the birth of Christ or anything. The only time that religion would impact the story at all is if you want to bring someone back to life and have that person describe the afterlife, however, this would be the writer's preference as it wouldn't make much sense for a ressurected atheist to say "My existance just ended when I died and now I'm back" and resurrected Christian to say "I went to Purgatory after I died and then ended up in Heaven and now I'm back" and a ressurrected ancient Egyptian to say "I went to the Underworld and had my heart weighed against the feather of Ma'at and now I'm back." Unless the writer believes that where you go after death is completely based on your own religion and that no religion is wrong.

    Gay - This would be a hard one... I really don't see gays as any different than anyone else except for the fact that (in my experience) everyone who is gay is really obsessed with / advocating for gay rights. But as far as portraying a gay character... I don't know how it could be done other than the fact that a male might see another male and say "That guy is hot." or something. The thing is, nothing beyond that even needs to be mentioned in a Pokémon fanfic unless it's a pornographic one where people are having sex, etc.

    No, you know so little that you don't even know the faith is known as Islam, not 'Muslim'. I strongly suggest you learn about the tenets of that religion before condemning it. How can you disagree with something without knowing the first thing about it? And this from a man who follows an Abrahamaic faith extremely similar in its basis to Islam... how absurd. Even if your ignorance was acceptable, there is no logical reason to suggest that disagreeing with the faith should give you difficulty writing about an Islamic character, if you genuinely held no prejudice against Islam. I don't mean to imply that it is necessary to write Islamic characters, merely that your justification holds no water and implies unfortunate things about yourself.
    A Christian doesn't have to be an expert on Muslims / Islam to know that he doesn't agree with their religion. The very definition of a Christian is someone who follows / worships Christ (as Christ is God)... seeing as Muslims don't see Christ as having any more improtance over any other prophet, i.e. Muhammad, it goes without saying that Islam is not compatible with Christianity. Also just because two religions are similar doesn't mean that they are both correct. Two Christians of different denominations may not agree with each other's religion even though they are both Christian with the exact same basis.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    despite being female, i do prefer to write about men as my main characters more often than women. i feel better when i write about men, because, i so easily relate to them. i've always hung out with men more than i have with women, so i developed a couple characteristics of their's.

    as for race, writing in the perspective of, say, an african american is difficult for me. i'm not racist, i just have never really hung out with black people before. i was raised in a southern, white community, and i never had a true, african american friend. and the span of time between sixth and seventh grade where i was stuck at home being homeschooled, i had lost a lot of social awareness and when i came back to public school in eighth grade, was seen as awkward and shy around people, specifically groups of people, so i did not communicate with inter-racial students or teachers, and avoided everyone as much as possible. i could probably write about hispanics, latino's, and asian men and women, but because of my vast lack of communication with african americans, i can't really see what they experience and get into their minds. it's pretty sad, i think.

    religion to me is not really a lot different from my aspects. i am a laveyan satanist, which is basically an atheist. in actuality, the whole story i'm writing now is wholly based on a christian aspect. i have converted from christianity to the religion i have now because it made more sense to me, but after researching a lot about religions i have a very wide mind about various religions. i've been studying different ones for a couple of months in order to obtain facts and information about what they believe. i could easily write about, say, a buddhist monk or an islamic man/woman.

    homosexuality is by far, a very easy topic for me to write and understand. as an out-of-closet lesbian, i could write about a lesbian couple, a straight couple, or a male gay couple. actually, the story i am writing now has a lot of homoerotic themes to it and i am very open about it and i could easily write about a man and a man, or a woman and a woman kissing as easily as i could write about a man and a woman kissing. the same goes for the actual relationship. i do not believe that there is a vast difference between homosexual and heterosexual love.

    EDIT;;
    This would be a hard one... I really don't see gays as any different than anyone else except for the fact that (in my experience) everyone who is gay is really obsessed with / advocating for gay rights.
    now this isn't true. most gay/lesbian people do not go out on the street and make signs and advocate gay marriage and equality. some, like me, quietly accept equality for all, but are not "obsessed" with it. if someone asked me if i supported gay marriage, i would reply with a simple yes, but not spew out why unless they asked me so. i could make a good argument on supporting it if i wanted, but that would be up to the people receiving my speech and if they want to hear my views. i'm not so keen as to speak out against something unless asked to.
    Last edited by an illegible mess.; 22nd April 2012 at 03:07 PM.
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyjenn
    Gay - This would be a hard one... I really don't see gays as any different than anyone else except for the fact that (in my experience) everyone who is gay is really obsessed with / advocating for gay rights. But as far as portraying a gay character... I don't know how it could be done other than the fact that a male might see another male and say "That guy is hot." or something. The thing is, nothing beyond that even needs to be mentioned in a Pokémon fanfic unless it's a pornographic one where people are having sex, etc.
    Everyone who's gay is obsessed with their rights, you say? Either you really haven't seen much of the gay community, or you play up their advocacy. (Perhaps you should also consider that maybe being treated as equal human beings is rather important?)

    Secondly, what about romance? What if you have two male characters who fall in love? That's hardly pornographic.

    Quote Originally Posted by dannyjenn
    A Christian doesn't have to be an expert on Muslims / Islam to know that he doesn't agree with their religion. The very definition of a Christian is someone who follows / worships Christ (as Christ is God)... seeing as Muslims don't see Christ as having any more improtance over any other prophet, i.e. Muhammad, it goes without saying that Islam is not compatible with Christianity. Also just because two religions are similar doesn't mean that they are both correct. Two Christians of different denominations may not agree with each other's religion even though they are both Christian with the exact same basis.
    Thank you for missing my point completely. It would be amusing if it wasn't frustrating. I am fully aware of the differences between the faiths and their denominations; I am well educated with a Christian background and a preoccupation with the subject on faith. My point was not about the validity of any given religion. That was never the issue. The issue is that The Shiny Gengar claims to find writing someone of the Islamic faith difficult without knowing anything about that religion. That surely can't simply be because such a character doesn't worship Christ, and if it were then that would still be a problem.

    Lady Lucifer, your post is commendable. Thank you.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    This thread is for discussing writing characters who are of a different gender, faith, sexuality etc. than you.

    It should not be used to debate the rights and wrongs of specific ways of life, nor should it be used to debate the rights and wrongs of certain opinions.

    Anyone who continues to engage in these debates will be given a pointless post infraction. Anyone who criticises other users for the opinions they express will be given a flaming & baiting infraction.

    Thanks in advance for complying.
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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    So many long and intimidating posts, I'm tired already... x.x I'll do my best to reply (ganbatte!), at least to the points that are relevant to this thread (I so veryveryVERY much enjoy discussing morality around religion, religion in general, and all that stuff. But... must... restrain myself... ;_;

    Gender:
    I rarely give consideration to gender. I write more female than male characters (especially lead characters), for a variety of reasons. I identify more with females tham males (but I consider myself a man through and through), I just like the concept of "femme fatale", and the female body has higher aesthetic value (Nothing perverted... I like anything curvy, it applies to things such as architecture and fotns as much as it does anatomy... P:).

    I rarely consider the character's gender when making the character however. While my experience is that my female friends are more reflected on their lives and emotions, and studies also show this; that females are better at intuitive and emotional issues than men, who in turn are more rational and logical. I have equal amountsof traits from both camps though, so I know very well that it's not a general rule - but there might be general tendnecies in my charcaters that appear subconsciously, I wouldn't know. In general my charcaters are reflected and emotional; I enjoy the philosophical possibilities such characters create (writing is for me a philosophical outlet as much as it is for the creative fun of building worlds and concepts from the ground up, or the thrill of sharing and people liking it).

    Race/culture:
    In the pokemon world, I find that race isn't that much of a deal, i.e. it seems like a liberal society where one doesn't consider the clolour of a person's skin. If I had to write a story, pokemon or now, where I had to portray it from the POW of a person with a different ethnicity than mine, I think I'd pull through, however. I got an A++ (informally, A is the highest actual grade) on a short story I wrote at school once, which was a sort of "journal" of a black slave up to and during the American Civil War. Another one was set to an Amazonian jungle tribe, that one owrked out well, too.

    I mean, we are all people, you and me and everyone else are the same despite our skin colours. So the only thing to consider is eventual cultural differences or racism issues, and those are things that can very easily be researched on the internet, or by talking, or just watching some news, for that sake.

    Within the pokemon universe, there is little mention of such things, thus I tend to invent my own cultures and trends for relevant regions, and play on them. For example, I consider Johto to be a more traditionalist Japanese society, while Kanto is a more modern Japanese society. Hoenn is more like a "Pacific island" kind of region, though with modern cities and such. Likewise, Sinnoh is based more on various northern cultures - some European. Unova is naturally American. All these are cultures you can research online, or get to know through actually reflect on the world at large. I'm blessed with a high level the latter, so I have a natural knack for putting myself into others' shoes - be it cultures, races or anything else. And research is something anyone can do.

    In my current story I'm making a region where, due to its history, there are as many distinct cultures as there are cities. I make the cultures, experience them, feel them, and write them.

    Faith: When it comes to faith, it's much the same as with race and culture; it's merely a matter of research. A Buddhist and an antitheist may have almost equal personalities, but differ because of their cultural differences. Said differences can be researched, learned - felt, if one may - through hard work and much reflection; the more the better. So thus it is no problem. Of course, no one is perfect and I may stumble and misunderstand concepts, but that's okay, it's only human. It doesn't scare me from writing about foreign faiths, knowing that I might offend someone.

    As the reflected person I pride myself on being, I also know that faith and religion have many sides; there are many reasons for believing, for acting based on that belief, for thinking the way one does about faith and religion, and so on. There's a thousand reasons, and it's uå tome to find the most fitting one given the character and their actual faith.

    Again, in the pokemon world, I place religions with already-existing regions (if fitting), or make my own to fit the cultures and history of the places I make up.

    Same-sex relationships:
    I mostly avoid this, especially if it's not a romance story in and of itself; the reason being that the main charaters need to be relatable, and given the distribution of gay people versus straight people, a couple of the latter is etter to go with. That isn't to say I won't do it; the main lead in my new story is most likely bisexual (wo't know until the story develops), and will seek out a relationship with another person of the same gender. There's nothing big or different here; love is love no matter your physical or mental gender.

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    Default Re: On writing a character of a different gender, race, faith or sexuality to your ow

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Lucifer View Post
    now this isn't true. most gay/lesbian people do not go out on the street and make signs and advocate gay marriage and equality. some, like me, quietly accept equality for all, but are not "obsessed" with it. if someone asked me if i supported gay marriage, i would reply with a simple yes, but not spew out why unless they asked me so. i could make a good argument on supporting it if i wanted, but that would be up to the people receiving my speech and if they want to hear my views. i'm not so keen as to speak out against something unless asked to.
    Quote Originally Posted by unrepentantAuthor View Post
    Everyone who's gay is obsessed with their rights, you say? Either you really haven't seen much of the gay community, or you play up their advocacy. (Perhaps you should also consider that maybe being treated as equal human beings is rather important?)

    Secondly, what about romance? What if you have two male characters who fall in love? That's hardly pornographic.
    I said from my personal experience. Everyone who I know who is openly gay is involved in some sort of political activism, etc. I never said that all gays are that way...
    I was saying that for the most part they are exactly like anyone else and there'd be no way to tell that a character is gay or not simply by writing or reading about it. Here's an example -- Dumbledore. Rowling said that he was gay, although there was pretty much no indication of that anywhere in any of the books. Her saying it actually came as a surprise... I still don't know if her intent was for him to be gay all along or if that was an afterthought, but the point is you didn't know from reading it and there's no way to tell one way or another. Another example -- Ash from Pokémon. He's not gay, but if it weren't for the one instance of him showing interest in a girl in The School of Hard-knocks there'd really be know way to tell if he was gay or not.
    Romance is fine, but we're talking about Pokémon fanfics, not romance novels. Sure, you can have romantic elements, but that doesn't affect the character at all, or the way you'd write about the character. If Brock was gay then the only difference would be that instead of him falling in love with Nurse Joy and Officer jenny and random girls he'd keep falling in love with boys... either way his character would be exactly the same.

    Thank you for missing my point completely. It would be amusing if it wasn't frustrating. I am fully aware of the differences between the faiths and their denominations; I am well educated with a Christian background and a preoccupation with the subject on faith. My point was not about the validity of any given religion. That was never the issue. The issue is that The Shiny Gengar claims to find writing someone of the Islamic faith difficult without knowing anything about that religion. That surely can't simply be because such a character doesn't worship Christ, and if it were then that would still be a problem.
    He's saying the issue is that he can't identify with Muslims, and so he is unable to write about them. Which I completely agree with... it's harder to write about someone if you don't understand the person's background. I would not be able to write about a Muslim without getting all the facts right simply because I'm not an expert on Islam... it's the same with any religion. I wouldn't be able to write about a Buddhist monk because the only thing I know about them is that they live in the mountains and do martial arts and meditate alot, although I'm sure there's much more to it than that.

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