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Nanowrimo and Thoughts on Stereotypes: 11/23/07
Last night I crossed 40,000 words on this year's Nanowrimo. Having hit a good stopping point I popped over to the forums to see what the other Nanowrimo participants were doing. I divide my time in the Erotic and Science Fiction forums.
Why the Erotic Forum? It's the only spot in Nanowrimo that has any sort of mature discussion of writing LGBT characters. I usually populate my books (whether Nano inspired or not) with a few gay or lesbian characters because it seems more realistic to me. I don't do it to "get off" on writing them or to make my other characters seem more normal. I do it because it feels right.
Every year around the third week of November someone will post in the Erotic Forum a rant against all the stereotypes that end up in LGBT romance novels. The rant is usually filled with a useful check list of things to avoid (and so far I think I've avoid these pitfalls). Typically the rant ends with the conclusion that people shouldn't write LGBT characters unless they are part of the LGBT community.
If we only write what we know then our books will be very plain. Should I not write any male characters (straight or gay) because I'm not a man? Should I avoid writing any characters who are older than me? From a different part of the world from me? If I only populated one of my Nanowrimos with female thirty-something married web designers who have been born and raised in California, I wouldn't finish the project. I'd be too bored to finish!
So onto the point of stereotypes. I don't like them in fiction either that I write or read. The abundance of stereotypes in the heterosexual romance I've read has been enough to make me swear off most of the genre. I try to approach all of my characters (even the minor ones) as individuals with their own likes and dislikes. I've seen enough of what is expected of me as a straight woman based on stupid stereotypes to want to cubbyhole any of my characters.
I have ten thousand more words before I can claim a win again this year for Nanowrimo. At the rate I'm going I could be done in about four or five days. My plot though is just starting to unfold. In previous years the plot and the word count have met up at the 50K mark but this year I think I have another twenty or thirty thousand words to go beyond the minimum to truly wrap up Tangent.
Congrats on the 40k!
Good going on your NaNo novel.
I've not read enough romance novels to know the stereotypes in them though."
I think it's very hard to create a realistic character without some stereotyping. But I'm still learning. You sound like you know your characters pretty well.
Congrats on hitting 40K. I'm close to that number but still very slow in finishing. Good luck!"