Writing Authentic LGBTQI Characters: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O’Callaghan Really Useful pic

Lucy O'Callaghan

June is pride month so no better time to discuss how to write stories with authentic LGBTQI characters. Readers must be able to see themselves in stories and stereotyped characters should be avoided. Adding a queer character shouldn’t be to tick off a diversity list but should be essential to your story. You must understand your character as a whole person not just their sexuality. I have put together some articles and YouTube videos that I hope you will find useful in writing queer characters and stories.

  1. LGBTQ Characters: How to Write for the YA and MG Audiences – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com)

This article is for writers of young adult and middle-grade fiction. Before embarking on writing a queer character ask yourself: is there something about his/her/ their queerness that is essential to your story, or are you trying to check off one of your agents’ items on a diversity list? You can create characters of any type if you’re willing to do so authentically. It shares 6 pitfalls to avoid when creating LGBTQ characters. The first of these is not to be invasive in your writing and research – never invade queer space for your own needs. Find public resources. The next is an important one: avoid stereotypes. Teens must be able to see themselves in your story. The article advises you not to be afraid to create an emotional connection with your character. Ask yourself if you’re willing to examine the complicated and sometimes unexplainable truth of young people who identify as queer. It also suggests TV, film, and literary examples to familiarise yourself with. Other tips given are not to try to protect your queer darlings, don’t make everything about sexual identity, and don’t skimp on the backstory

  1. 20 Tips for Writing LGBTQ Characters – Independent Book Review

Independent Book Review shares a guide to writing LGBTQ characters in your fiction or screenplays. How do you make sure that your LGBTQ characters are shining, true, and not offending? The great news is you have so many freedoms. The article shares 20 things you should know about writing LGBTQ characters. I won’t cover all, but I’ll mention a few. Understand your character as a whole person. There’s more to them than that. Establish their goals early and it’ll be easier for you to tell the story. Say who they are directly, or maybe don’t say it at all.

Be ambiguous if you want, explore a character’s myriad traits, not just their sexuality and gender. Readers will interpret your character through many traits, for example, what work they do, what principles they hold, and who they spend time with. A person has their sexuality and gender all the time, including when they’re doing regular human stuff like working or spending time with their friends.

Include as much, or as little, LGBTQ stuff as you see fit. Ignore the haters – in a homophobic and transphobic climate, authors and publishers are sometimes nervous about writing LGBTQ characters provocatively. But making those characters tame and uncontroversial may not be the best solution for your novel. This is a very thorough article with lots of suggested reading material.

  1. 7 Tips for Writing Queer Characters — GLOBE SOUP

As writers, we often hear the old adage ‘write what you know.’ You shouldn’t let it put you off writing a diverse cast of characters in your stories. Read stories by queer authors, do your research, write full and complex characters – the queerness of the characters is not their only defining characteristic. Ensure you pay as much attention to building up the other aspects of the personalities and backstories as you would for any character. Queerness doesn’t have to be central to the plot, avoid stereotypes and harmful tropes, and get feedback on your story.

  1. 9 Essential LGBT Writing Tips (richiebilling.com)

This article begins with a useful brief glossary. It advises you not to tokenize queer people, and there’s no need to just have one queer character – queer people tend to travel in flocks. Remember that identities are intersectional.

  1. How to write better LGBT characters – Bang2write

As writers, we all want to tell stories that reflect the rich, diverse world we live in. However, writing characters with different life experiences to your own can come with pitfalls. It’s important to avoid these to prevent writing stereotypes or unbelievable characters. Bang 2 Write shares 5 tips for writing LGBT characters. Don’t make being gay a gimmick, don’t just make it about LGBT issues, do your research, you can use LGBT in all genres, and always ask for feedback.


Top tips to help you on the road to writing LGBT characters. Part 1 of How To Write LGBT Characters And Why You Should Anyway

How to write LGBT characters and why you should anyway series. Part 2.

After countless hours of interviewing and researching opinions from members of the LGBTQIA+ community, strategies and what not to do when writing LGBTQIA+ characters are discussed in this video.

What’s important in all of these tips is that queer characters must be represented in literature. if you take on board the advice in these articles and YouTube videos, you’ll be well informed on how to get started writing authentic LGBTQI characters and stories. I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always, please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, her debut novel, The Lies Beneath is out now, published by Poolbeg.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get all of the latest from writing.ie delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured books