Identity, and 100WCGU: “It should have stayed that way” [Fearless]

Though currently embroiled in my NaNoWriMo tale of soldiers and stowaways, I was abruptly struck by Julia’s prompt for this week’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups:
…the silence was deafening…
WordPress and Twitter friends itsjennythewren and sjbwritingย said I should feel free to indulge my pestering inner muse on this one, though, so I’ve done. (Make sure to check out their blogs, too!)

If you don’t like my story, that’s fine. Sometimes, we just have to write for ourselves.

“It should have stayed that way”

The blaring horns, the cawing gulls, even the roar of rolling waves…none of them matched the sounds of Ross’s heartbreak: hitching breaths exploding like dynamite, staccato bursts of emotion spit wet and raw between his teeth.

Yet, still, he was beautiful.

And that beauty pulled, like an undertow, until his sobs became a muffled gasp of surprise from around the briny clasp of his lips.

A heartbeat later, he pulled away, his eyes clear and full. Not of love, though. And even the practised platitudes couldn’t make vanish that look of betrayal.

Wordlessly, he rose, and left. And for Neville, the silence was deafening.

I feel a bit bad that my WordPress readers only get to see this tortured side of poor Neville, when he’s really one of my more well-balanced characters. Love grows in different ways for each of us, though, and this love between him and Ross is integral to the depth of their friendship.


“Good old Nev.”

Others might say I’m pandering with my portrayal of Neville, because his sexual orientation gives no conflict to the main plot. But I always felt that, even if there’s no sexual affair between them, his love for Ross made him more honest than virtually any other character in the story. The story (and Ross) needs that. I don’t think I could make Neville straight and have him be the same character or give his perspective equal weight than it has with him being gay…and still a little bit in love with Ross.

How did you answer this week’s prompt? And/Or: What are your feelings about a character’s identity affecting (or not affecting) the plot of a story?


8 thoughts on “Identity, and 100WCGU: “It should have stayed that way” [Fearless]

    • Thanks, Jenny! Double thanks for convincing me to take the time to write this one up. Even though I’m *so far behind* on my NaNo story, I loved writing this. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. I could really hear a deafening ocean here! And nice description of his feelings using comparison from the ocean. Lovely imagery.

    We won’t get to know what just happened, huh? Darn.

    Honestly, I never really thought that a character’s identity made much impact unless it becomes a part of the plot. Sometimes I just go, “Because that’s just how he is,” and keep on writing the character that way. But I can see from your example that it does have some importance in the story.


    • Thanks, spooney. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I don’t think sexual identity is always important – sometimes, it works better for them to be “just that way.” There’s a character in the HBO series “The Wire” who is gay. It really has nothing to do with the plot, but the reveal is one of those great character moments that makes you go, “Ah-ha!”


  2. I’m so glad that you took the time out of your nanowrimo to write this. This is a really powerful description of a moment between two people.

    I agree with you that sometime’s a character’s sexuality is important even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on the plot…

    There’s one writer whose series of books I love. I was always convinced that one of the two main characters was gay and in love with the other. That was never said outright, and there were nothing in the plot to make it essential, it just seemed to make sense to me. When it turned out several books down the line that he was straight it spoilt it for me because I could then see no motivation for some of his actions in earlier books. Not sure if that rambling makes sense to anyone else, but it does to me ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks, Sally-Jayne. And thanks for giving me that little push of freedom. I think this one would still be bouncing around in my head, otherwise. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I know exactly what you mean, actually. Many characters should be allowed to be the way they are, and, often, I don’t even think about their sexual identity outside of how it affects their relationships. But, in this case (and in the one you mention), it does affect the relationship, whether it’s simple friendship or romantic. Love – even when it’s one-sided – can allow a character to do and be so much more.

      Thanks again!


  3. Poor Neville. He really does love Ross on a carefully guarded, ever-secret level doesn’t he?
    There is a heavy sense of longing and resignation to this one. I think Nev knows he and Ross will never be more than friends, even brothers of the waves, but that won’t stop him from wondering.


    • Exactly: Poor Neville. ๐Ÿ˜€

      I enjoy writing him because he is so sympathetic. He doesn’t pine (anymore), but he is aware of his own feelings. And a big part of his ability to be honest – and confrontational – with Ross has to do with those feelings. He doesn’t exactly fit into a threesome situation…but I don’t think Ross would be as complete a character without Neville.

      I’d kind of like to write their story, now. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thanks for offering your thoughts, Shade. Your comments always make me think. ๐Ÿ™‚


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