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Writing Sympathetic (Gay) Characters

Originally posted on the Diversity in YA blog by Brent Hartinger.

If you’re an author, how do make and keep your main character sympathetic?

You could write a whole book on this very topic — in fact, many have. I confess, I find it a fascinating one, mostly because it was exactly this idea of “likable” protagonists that made me start writing fiction in the first place.

Some writers reject the whole notion that main characters must be sympathetic (and to a degree, I would agree: jerks and anti-heroes absolutely have their place in the world, in certain kinds of stories).

But when I started writing back in the 80s and early 90s, I found myself completely frustrated by the main characters in so many books I was reading, especially the gay books. I was looking for characters I could relate to, and too many of the ones I was reading were way too whiny and self-destructive for my taste.

My partner and I used to joke that there was a name for the genre: *sshole fiction.

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