Sometimes you need to write characters that are just nasty.
In Night’s Favour, there are two characters who started off as generally homophobic. One is actually an asshole, and the other is a bit of a dudebro. The benefits of exposing this to a set of beta readers early on was that I identified some interesting things – one of which was that people didn’t like the dudebro very much in that configuration.
And said dudebro is one of the “good guys.” I wanted him to be liked. Thus, when editing the story, chapters from his perspective lost any of their anti-gay vibe. Despite the original vision, it didn’t really hurt his character or placement for him to join the human race – and having edited him, he’s more likeable, although perhaps not as… what. Realistic? I don’t know – there’s a lot of that out there, even now, bits and pieces of anti-gay sentiment buried in our society. I hear things like, “That’s just gay,” all the time.
The other guy gets to keep being a homophobe though – he has a particularly vile comment, something like his mother not having raised no slack jawed faggot. Now the curious thing is writing that kind of stuff is not fun. Action scenes are fun. Witty dialogue is fun. Trying to be nasty to people based on race or sexual preference? Not so much. But necessary for the story – and it makes it all the sweeter when the fall comes.
One of the problems though is that it’s quite clear that at least two of my beta readers thought that was me – that I was writing like that, that it wasn’t the perspective of the character. I find that hard to reconcile! It’s staying in though – this guy, I want people to not like him. I’m pretty sure most people will understand the perspective, or point of view, and I won’t get burned at the stake.
We’ll see – hopefully I’m still here tomorrow.