Discovering new characters, researching background, thinking through plots, twists and turns. Nothing makes me happier than the moment–usually when I’m taking a late night shower in the dark–that I see the story laying itself out like a path into the woods. I know the ground is soft with pine needles and the sun is shining but there are still surprises ahead, hiding behind the trees.
Part of the trip is reading other writers and their take on the kind of characters I’m interested in. Currently working my way through Annabel by Kathleen Winter and Hild by Nicola Griffith. Very different stories but both center on gender dysphoria of one kind or another. I also picked up and blew through the action/thriller In The Blood by Lisa Unger which is what gave me the idea to write about a transgender character.
While I enjoyed the twists and turns of In The Blood I was uncomfortable with how the main character was portrayed as hiding his biological sex because of childhood trauma. When the mystery at the end is solved the main character goes back to presenting as male.
I agree that some people are or can be more fluid in how they express their gender, and sometimes people identify with one sex or another or none depending on how they feel inside, that’s different than being transgender.
What I wanted to read was a story that didn’t have a LBGQT character being “created” because of past trauma (abuse, depression, etc) in their lives.
To that end I’m working on a trans boy character where gender part of who he is only one part and not the focus. Not a story of “who am I?” or “why is this person different and how can we help them fit in?”. I’m working on a strong character sure of who he is but living in a dangerous and challenging world.