So I think it’s time I write something I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while.
We get plenty of posts with suggestions on how to write homosexual, bisexual, and even occasionally trans* characters. What I’ve yet to see is anything on writing asexual characters. Now, you may not think that this is anything of consequence; the popular idea of asexuality is “they don’t have sex” or “they think sex is gross.” In real life and online with real people, I’ve met asexuals who do think that way. In fiction, you could definitely write characters who think that way.
But, like all the other orientations, asexuality is broad and has many variations.
I should mention before we get too far that I label myself as demisexual, which falls under the blanket of asexuality. I’ll explain more on that later. I use the term “label” because my true sexuality is more complicated than that, but saying “I’m demisexual” is easier than launching into a full conversation unless there is some reason for it (which is exceedingly rare). When I don’t want to talk about it at all or when it’s no one’s business, I simply say “I’m asexual.”
On to characters. Just because your character is asexual does not mean they can’t have sex in your story. Many real aces do have sex for their own reasons - because it’s important to their partners, or because they do have the occasional desire for it, or for whatever. They don’t have to have anything against the physics or social nature of sex, although they can. They’re all different. How they approach the idea of sex is up to you and should be largely dependent on their characterizations.
That’s why we have what’s called the “grey-A” spectrum. This is a very nebulous area between being wholly asexual and being sexual. This is where most of your asexual characters will fall, more than likely. Also, just because your character doesn’t have sex doesn’t mean they’re asexual; the term refers more to a psychological attitude than the physical activity. That would fall under abstinence.
This might be confusing. I write quite a few characters that fall under some of these categories - as much as people and characters can be categorized, anyway. But that’s a post for some other time.
Christian is asexual. He enjoys sex, but doesn’t feel any sort of desire for it very often.
Dakari is demisexual. This term is based on the theory that there are two types of attraction, physical and emotional; demisexuals don’t feel physical attraction until they form deep bonds with someone. (It is not the same as_ choosing_ not to sleep with someone until you bond with them; that’s celibacy.) She met a few other characters who were attracted to her, and who were attractive, but she did not feel any desire for any of them until she met one that she felt was on her intellectual level, and she allowed him to get to know her. Now she’s affianced, and she and her intended have sex. Often.
Gabriel L is somewhere on the grey-A spectrum. He started out as fully asexual, but then met someone who he is both physically and emotionally attracted to.
Jaime (you can meet him) is asexual. He just… well, for him it’s hard to describe. He’s a little bit out of his mind, in a good way. He seems to grow close to others while still keeping them at arm’s length. He doesn’t feel physical desire or attraction to others, which is why he feels totally comfortable with telling people that they’re hot or gorgeous. Think of him as your Sassy Ace Friend.
René is also grey-A. He experiences sexual attraction very rarely and very faintly. He has nothing against sex, however, and would probably enjoy it with the right person, depending on how things fell into place.
As you’ve probably noticed, AVENwiki is an excellent source for information and ideas. There may even be an asexual or two in your circle that you can use as a reference (with care, because not everyone likes talking about their sexuality, no matter what it is). Accuracy here is not a hard-and-fast term; people and characters change and are different from others. The main pitfalls I’ve seen are confusing asexuality with abstinence and celibacy; again, those are choices, not orientations. As for other characters around them, it’s possible that they don’t understand the asexual one, just like in real life. But I personally recommend not making a pity show out of it.
tl;dr? Asexuals are just as widely different as any other orientation, and it’s easy to make variations on the theme. Just be careful of the line between variances and caricatures.