History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
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VinSev
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History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby VinSev » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:08 pm

Okay, so I'm curious about this because the story I'm submitting this quarter has a main character who is LGBTQ, specifically gender non-conforming. Does anyone know how such characters have fared in the contest's past? Have stories with LGBTQ characters or themes ever won?

My character uses they/them pronouns, and in discussion with my beta reader, she mentioned that while she found this interesting, she thought I might want to pick either he or she, for purposes of marketability. She said that while she understood my choice, it might not appeal to a wider audience.

That was kind of hard for me to hear. Giving this character one gender or the other would completely change who they are, and I can't bring myself to do it. I've decided to leave their gender as it is.

Do you guys think this will affect my story's chances? I know Dave says that he doesn't take into account gender, age, ethnicity, etc, and I want to believe that with my full heart, but I'm worried that it will be off-putting simply because it is unfamiliar. What do you guys think? Am I worrying needlessly? My hope is that if it's a good story, the gender of the character won't matter.

Thanks in advance!
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kentagions
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby kentagions » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:27 pm

I believe you can take Dave at his word that LGBTQ+ characters and issues in contest stories play no part in his editorial decisions.

I would personally be concerned as to whether non-cisgender language is prevalent enough in genre literature to pass the test of readability. If you believe that it is perfectly readable, go for it.

High school libraries are a particularly large market for the anthology. As such, violence and sex must pass a filter for that market that is governed by the judges. If you feel that your story will pass that perceived filter, go for it.

If you have a solid piece of speculative fiction with vivid settings, engaging characters, and interesting situations, go for it whether it passes the above tests or not. Never self-reject.

Good luck,
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YM Pang
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby YM Pang » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:07 pm

You might want to read the "WoTF:Issues and Concerns" thread in the Kitchen Sink. In short: The contest could do better, and there have been issues with this in the past (though not due to Dave or the previous coordinating judge). I don't know if things have changed. That being said: I wouldn't say your story has no chance, or even less of a chance.

There have been LGBT characters in past winning stories. Vol. 33 and Vol. 29 come to mind.

My character uses they/them pronouns, and in discussion with my beta reader, she mentioned that while she found this interesting, she thought I might want to pick either he or she, for purposes of marketability. She said that while she understood my choice, it might not appeal to a wider audience.

I don't think she's right here. Many top magazines in the F/SF field have published stories with non-binary characters. I wouldn't change an aspect of the story if it's important to you. Instead, I would find the right home for it. This may mean researching/reading a lot of magazines, or just submitting relentlessly. Writing is hard enough without self-rejection. :)
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby MattDovey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:56 am

Seconding everything YM says above. In particular, singular they pronouns (and other neopronouns) are pretty well accepted across the board in most short markets now, and very few would have a problem with it, if any.

"it might not appeal to a wider audience"--don't write for them. Write for you.
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amoskalik
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby amoskalik » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:01 am

I agree with what everyone said above. I would also add that writing with a fear of rejection is counter-productive. It will prevent you from taking the risks necessary for your story to have any chance. This contest, and indeed any venue worth publishing in, is looking for more than just competence. You need to offer something unique and you will never do that playing it "safe".

In short, write your story the way your feel in your bones it needs to be written. If you don't, your story won't have any heart and without that it is DOA anyway.
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VinSev
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby VinSev » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:18 am

amoskalik wrote:
In short, write your story the way your feel in your bones it needs to be written. If you don't, your story won't have any heart and without that it is DOA anyway.


This really resonates with me. It's the whole reason I didn't want to change the character. I know who they are, and making such an in-organic change wold have just felt wrong. Thank you guys, it sounds like I should be fine leaving my character the way I know they should be. You've given me a confidence boost, and I really appreciate it :)
"The adverb is not your friend."
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vsutherland01
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby vsutherland01 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:03 am

I struggled with something pertaining to this issue on the first story I wrote.

My characters were living machines of a sort, they did not procreate and as such had no biological need for gender. I just wasn't skilled enough to figure out how to write it that way so I had to split things into he's and she's. It was quite frustrating and I wish I could have achieved it properly.

Nice to hear it's doable and viable. If you can do it well, I say go for it! The only things that seem to offend Dave are gratuitous gore, raunchy sex, and excessive cursing. Everything else just comes down to storytelling skill.
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orbivillein
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Re: History of LGBTQ+ Characters in the Contest

Postby orbivillein » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:31 am

First-person, main contestant, and narrator Mars of Kelley Eskridge's Dangerous Space, a novella in the collection of the same name, is sexually ambiguous, not a single definitive biological sex clue for Mars, no female, male, or neuter personal pronouns reference Mars -- A valid enhanced purpose for first-person narrative point of view, in addition to the danger close narrative distance and psychic distance by default natural to first person. Nebula Nomination for Best Novella 2008.

The novella is also true speculative fiction, the definition before the term became a catch-all for any fantastic fiction. The basis of the definition is a story with fantastic features that could be removed and the story and plot not change, nor are the fantastic features MacGuffins unnecessary to the plot that could be changed and the story be the same. Like instead of birds for the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds, Hollywood uses all sorts of MacGuffin creatures in fantastic situations for Nature gone awry.

http://www.kelleyeskridge.com/Dangerous ... kridge.pdf

Machines are by definition objects. Grammar principles want pronouns then to be impersonal "it." Likewise, for well on now fifty years, loaded language is also deprecated grammar. Romance languages append genitive markers to object and thing nouns and such. English entails a few remnant words that are marked, though has moved away from such identity markers for hundreds of years. Idiom held out the longest and still holds sway in bastion pockets, like pronoun reference to vessels as "she" and "her," to anything that carries.

A story about neuter machines is a ripe occasion to use "it" for social commentary about genitive markers and social identity language. Though the machines be personified, the only personal pronoun used is the neuter, nonpersonal one "it," and maybe also the zero-person pronoun "one"!? One does the lotion on its back or else one gets the hose put on it again. Utter personal demotion and objectification language. Paraphrase of the Buffalo Bill well scene from Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs.

Recent social language precedents have led to tolerance of plural personal pronouns for singular constructions in order to avoid loaded language; however, those uses nonetheless demote and objectify persons; therefore, are controversial. If social commentary about those social phenomena were foregrounded enough to intimate intent and not overly detract from a story, those might work for a somewhat large audience niche. If both pro and con satire about social language, and a third actual position and satire target arose forefront, wow, capture and captivate a very large audience appeal.


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