I’ve recently been writing a book which surrounds an LGBT+ group going through what is essentially a magical combat school, so I wanted to have some poly characters there as well! But I’m not poly myself, so I’m worried I’m going to get it all wrong. I was going to have three characters that were all together (a triad?), two boys and a girl. Do you have any advice I should keep in mind while writing them? Should I be doing this at all? Thank you!!
That sounds like such a fun book! I definitely think it is okay, even awesome, for people to write about characters who are different from themselves - as long as it’s done sensitively and realistically! I think “please don’t write about XYZ type of people in a stereotyped, offensive, or damaging way” is a far cry from “please don’t write about XYZ type of people unless you are one.”
One thing to keep in mind is that polyamorous people are just like other people - we react to things pretty much the same way as anyone else, so for the majority of situations that might come up during school or magical combat, there won’t be much of a difference. All the same rules of writing well-rounded, interesting characters still apply. Go ahead and let each of these characters be their unique selves, with identities, interests, and inner lives that aren’t solely defined by their polyamory.
You can always poke around the resources here to get a sense for what’s out there in the realm of polyamorous experience and identity.
When it comes to your fictional triad, think through their specific arrangement: are they all dating each other, or is it three separate inter-linked couples? How do they settle tension or conflict? How do they present their relationship to other people? What do they like to do together? Are they polyfidelitous or do any of the individuals involved date or sleep with other people? How does each individual identify in terms of sexuality and gender expression? Are they pretty insular or relatively independent?
Since your book isn’t a romance that revolves around the formation and maintenance of this triad, you can probably rely on doing situation-specific research for anything that comes up in the natural progression of your story that you have questions about. First, try relying on your own imagination and sense for these characters; then, if you’re struggling to conceptualize how a polyamorous triad might respond to something specific, feel free to kick that question to a polyamory-focused forum or back to this blog!
And when you finish, let me know! If my inbox is any indication, people are hungry for polyamorous and polyamory-positive fiction and media.