The Characters I Write

By Alan Chin



My career as a writer had been occupied in writing about characters who don’t fit into the social patterns. Most of my protagonists are gay men, but not all. These characters are very varied; some don’t fit in because of sheer defiance, some because they are terrified of society, some are simply scandalous. There are some, however, who have such a high degree of integrity that they don’t fit in anywhere in a world tainted by corruption.


The one thing they all have in common is that they are outsiders. They have many voices, and all sing, some loudly and some whisper, against the social norms. They are people who have few friends, yet value absolute loyalty to the personal relationships they find, they cling to those relationships as the plot darkens and they must fight to save themselves and the people that matter to them.


E.M. Forster once said: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” This, I believe goes to the heart of my outsider characters that I try to create. I’ve always regarded loyalty to friends and loved ones as going beyond admirable to heroic. It represents the best qualities of the outsider.


I write about outsiders because I believe the outsider is, should be, really, one of the most socially valuable people in the whole community. Because he/she often, more often than not, challenges the social norms, doing what he/she thinks is right, rather than what’s accepted or easy.


Admittedly, I’ve always felt myself to be an outsider, and not by choice. So that by creating these characters, I’m questioning my own experience, what I am and what I am becoming. I create these characters and plots to find out if there’s meaning in the external world for me, and then, I suppose, if I decide that there isn’t, to impose a meaning of my own.


There are as many reasons to write and create characters as there are writers, but I’m explaining what I feel motivates me as a writer, and that is my own experience. I take those different experiences and mold them into a real constructed, contrived novel or short story which has a plot played out in action and also a philosophical plot which either proves or disproves a question, which it the story’s main theme. It has motifs as in a symphonic work, and it comes to a conclusion. But at the heart of that plot are the main characters, and I tend to paint a detailed portrait of these characters. And within the heart of these characters lies the soul of the outsider struggling against society for ideas they believe are truth and just.



Buddhas Bad Boys

6 Responses to “The Characters I Write”

  1. 1 S.A. March 3, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Interesting points to ponder here – outsiders as valuable because they go against the norms, along with varied sources of/motivations for being an outsider. Then throwing in the characteristic of being loyal to friends and loved ones… I suspect that makes your books interesting to read, as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  2. 2 dave pederson March 3, 2015 at 5:40 PM

    interesting indeed. I think most people don’t fit in in one way or another. Some fit in certain situations, some in others, but no one in all, I don’t think. it’s what makes us all unique.


  3. 3 jsidelinger March 3, 2015 at 5:51 PM

    It’s an interesting perspective, which in my opinion is generally admired by Western culture. We mostly like and admire our mavericks, but the who and what will be tolerated tends to be defined. Whereas in Japan, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down proverb is the norm, even if you are rebelling, it is defined and constrained within a like group.

    I grew up in the U.S. and Japan, but never quite fit into either culture due to my half and half ethnicity, so your characters have always appealed to me on various levels. I can find something within the protagonist to identify with and the overall writing is layered and textured.

    BTW, Alan writes a very lovely and engaging blog for those who are interested.


  4. 4 David Morris March 3, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    Outsiders are just more interesting.


  5. 5 Devlyn March 3, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    I was interested in the concept of having to betray country over friend. I’m not sure I could do it. I do understand the concept of defending friends though. Thanks for you blog it has given me food for thought.


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