While this understanding is important while working on all characters, it becomes especially important for bisexual ones because of the years of discrimination and bi-erasure that real-life people have faced, sometimes even within the LGBTQ+ community, because of misrepresentation in media and long-held stereotypes. Therefore, it is not just enough that your character is bisexual. They also need to be well-written.
Make sure to understand what you mean by ‘bisexual’:
Remember that being bisexual does not necessarily mean your character is only attracted to two genders. In fact, it definitely does not have to mean that they are attracted to each gender equally. Just because they are bisexual does not mean they have to have a romantic inclination towards everyone- they could also be aromantic or just romantically attracted to one gender. Make sure you understand which of the identities under the bi-umbrella suit your character the best before you begin writing.
Do not paint them as someone who is commitment-phobic:
Or if you do choose to do that, make sure to make it clear that it is not their bisexuality that is causing that but their personal choice. The stereotype of bisexual people having sex with everyone in sight contributes too much to bi-erasure and biphobia to be an acceptable trope anymore. Your character can be in a long-term relationship or have a ‘no sex till the third date’ rule. People’s bisexuality does not suddenly disappear just because they are married or in love with a single person. Sexuality is based on identity, not circumstance. Feel free to brainstorm how various relationship statuses can contribute to the plot to figure out which works best for your character.
Make sure to write about other interesting aspects of their personality:
Make their bisexuality the starting point of your aspirations for the character, not the point where you think you are done making them interesting. Your only specifics about your character that makes them stand out from all others cannot be their sexuality because that is not only one-dimensional representation but also a lost opportunity to actually build a meaningful narrative. What are your character’s hobbies? What kind of conversations do they enjoy? Do they have an interesting skill or talent that makes them stand out?
Experiment with genres and eras:
Remember that Bisexual people do not just exist in the modern world in an erotica or a love story. Diverse sexualities have existed as long as humans have, and therefore you should be able to let your imagination run wild. Your character can be a nurse in the Civil War era, a pirate who goes on an amazing adventure, or even a Widow that turns into a spy in a dystopian world. We don’t necessarily have to meet them when they’re ‘coming of age’, they could have been bi and proud for centuries also, if you choose to make them a vampire!
Don’t oversexualize your character:
No matter what, do not include a bisexual character just because you want to write a scene featuring a threesome. Oversexualisation in media is a problem that bisexual people face everyday, anyway. Another portrayal that paints them as sex-crazy and perpetually horny for any and everyone is the most unhealthy thing you can probably do. Remember, being bisexual does not automatically mean being attracted to every single person in a room, anymore than being a cishet man means being attracted to every woman in the room. Being bisexual does not mean that your character necessarily has to sexually engage in something wild everyday. Your character can have sexually interacted with only one gender. They could be someone who doesn’t believe in one night stands and is looking for a relationship. They could even be in a long term monogamous relationship.
Their arc does not necessarily have to be about coming out:
True, it is possible to write a brilliant and heartwarming narrative surrounding that and it is also a necessity to normalize conversations around the emotional and social labour that a bisexual person ends up needing to do. However, remember that there can be other moments of personal growth in your character’s life, just like in everyone else’s. If you want to write a family drama, their arc can be about learning to let go when a family member passes away. If you’re writing fantasy, they could struggle to come to terms with the fact that they are the chosen one.
Inclusivity doesn’t just end with them being bisexual:
Remember that just like your readers, your characters also need to be intersectional. Where did they grow up? What is their gender identity? What size are they? What is their skin colour? What privileges have they had growing up, and what have they been deprived of? Make sure you give your character a 360-degree identity instead of feeling like you’re done just because you made them bisexual.
Get feedback from actual bisexual people:
If you are genuinely looking to make your work inclusive, then you should consider making your feedback circle and editing team inclusive too. Most importantly, actually listen to their constructive feedback if they tell you something is problematic. At the end of the day, a well-written bisexual character is not only meant for members of the community that didn’t get to read one growing up, but for every single reader that cares about an inclusive narrative.