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Ignorance

Jane Austen refused to write about anything that she didn't or couldn't have knowledge of. One of her trademarks is that she never wrote a single scene in which a woman wasn't present, because she felt that as a woman, she didn't have any idea of how men behave with each other. I'm really starting to understand this.


There's plenty of things I don't know about that I'm okay with writing. For example, I've never worked at a construction site, but I can make assumptions about how people behave there (some of it taken from TV and movies, which, I'll admit, aren't the best sources of depictions of reality) and I can look up the technical details to make it sound good. It helps that I'm writing for the Doctor Who fandom, because it's very fast and loose with its reality.

However, I've been working on a story in which I want two of the male characters to realize that they're in love, and I have absolutely no idea how to do that. Being a heteroromantic whose gay friends have always been either single or already attached, I don't have any experience here. And it seems so cliche to do that "two people get close, gaze into each other's eyes, and realize there's something deeper there" thing that happens in so many books and movies.

I want the scene to not include sex or physical contact - the scene needs to be the revelation, leaving the reader to imagine that they take things further later. I suppose it would be even worse for me if I did include sex, because I'm absolutely clueless there. I've read some slash erotica, but I've always wondered how much of it is accurate (or possible!) and how much is wishful thinking.

Ah, the difficulties of being a writer!

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
doctorxdonna
May. 19th, 2015 07:21 pm (UTC)
I think the problem here is that you're maybe assuming/believing that the way two people of the same gender fall in love is any different from the way two people of opposite genders fall in love. Maybe it's as simple as one person realizing that they literally are unable to imagine their life without that other person in it. Maybe people always assume they are a couple, and one time one of them thinks maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if they actually were. Maybe one of them does something they absolutely hate doing only because the other person wants them to, and they realize they would never do this thing for someone they didn't love. Maybe one day they are holding hands, and one or both of them realize that they long for more than that There are all sorts of ways you could go about doing this, I think the important thing is to make it seem natural, and not forced.

I think the mark of a good writer is being able to write about things outside of your own scope of experience. It's easy to write about things you have lived through yourself, and much more difficult to write about things you have little to no experience with. One of the hardest things I ever had to write was a chapter where one character gives birth-I have literally no personal experience with pregnancy or childbirth, so I researched the shit out of it, and had a handful of mums read it to see if it struck the right chords (the write chords?). If you're anxious about it, maybe try seeking out a beta who is LGBT, so that you can bounce ideas off of them.

Good luck!
shivver13
May. 19th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC)
I think my biggest problem is that I don't grok the male mind as well as I'd like. For example, in a different fic, I created a male OC that does exactly what I want him to do in the story but I'm convinced isn't very male - his manner of speaking, his thought patterns, his reactions to situations, etc., are really rather female. (He's not feminine; he just seems to speak and think like he's female. I don't know how else to describe it.) Given that, I don't understand how two men will react to each other in a romantic situation. The way they fall in love isn't really the issue, it's how they react to each other and how they come together that I don't think I can depict realistically.

I probably will need to reach out to some of my LGBT friends to ask them some questions. It's tough, though, to come out and ask, "Hey, can you describe to me your experiences?" :)
doctorxdonna
May. 19th, 2015 08:42 pm (UTC)
Legitimate concerns. I wish I could recommend fic for you to read as research, but I don't really do Torchwood and the most common male relationships you see depicted in the fandom seem to be Jack and Ianto or Jack and the Doctor or the Doctor and the Master. I could be wrong, but it seems that way to me at least. I also don't read much slash, either. Still, if you don't feel comfortable asking people you know, you may be able to do research online.
shivver13
May. 19th, 2015 09:34 pm (UTC)
Ha! I didn't even think about watching Torchwood to see how Jack and Ianto interact. That show has been on my list to watch for a long time. That will probably be more instructive than searching for fanfics, since fics (at least the ones I've seen) tend to either already assume the relationship has been established or go directly for the physical relationship, and neither are what I'm looking for at all. Thanks!
a_phoenixdragon
May. 20th, 2015 12:31 am (UTC)
I wish I could tell you a way around this. I just let my characters do what they do and hope it falls into the realms of 'close to accurate even if I may never be in that situtation'. For example, I know diddly bout time travel...but I do love to write on it. As for slash, I have fun with that, too - but I do my darnedest to never take myself or knowledge (and lack thereof) too seriously. There is a story to be told. Sometimes it is best to let the characters tell it.

*HUGS*
shivver13
May. 22nd, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC)
The differences between the way you and I write are fascinating! I can't write by the seat of my pants. My characters don't just do what they want. For me, everything has to have a reason, and everything has to fit just so. It's very constraining in some ways, as I always feel compelled to do lots of research to make sure things fit in canon or happen realistically. On the other hand, I've found sometimes when I've crafted a complex plot and because I'm a stickler for details, it all comes together perfectly, and I'm just so impressed with myself. :)
a_phoenixdragon
May. 24th, 2015 04:56 am (UTC)
I love it when it pulls together and just....FITS. My Musie seems to do that for me - whether I want it to or not! I wish I had more control over my characters, but every time I try to assert control, the consequences are blocks and ficcy ideas that sputter and die. I cannot imagine just...outline and writing something - and I admire those who can! So I find your way as equally fascinating! I assure you, though...mine is just...MESSY, lol!!

*HUGS*
shivver13
May. 29th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
I'm actually working this way on a piece right now. I know the eventual point that I want the story to make, but how it gets there, I haven't planned at all. I just sat down and started writing, and we'll see where it goes.

We - you and I - also differ a lot in that your writing, your plots are a lot more emotional and mine are a lot more procedural, and that probably explains why our methods are so different. :)
flowsoffire
May. 21st, 2015 09:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, I get you—I don't think I've ever written really in-depth slash, either… Regarding the romance itself, it doesn't have to be different because the gender is, but men do indeed react differently than women in such situations so two men together could be difficult to wrap your mind around. I hope you can figure it out!
shivver13
May. 22nd, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, you explained my problem perfectly. How to make the men react to each other realistically. I've put the idea on the back burner for now, only because I still haven't done the research I need to do on it, but I think it'll be an interesting problem to tackle sometime later.
flowsoffire
May. 24th, 2015 07:48 pm (UTC)
Okay, good luck! :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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