How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sporadic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I have a problem with most how-to-write-character-of-X-identity posts: representation loses complexity when we reduce it to a list of must-avoid tropes and stereotypes. While this simplification makes it easier to steer clear of accidental antagonism, rarely do such posts acknowledge how avoiding stereotype enables the erasure of those allo-aros–and people of other marginalised identities–whose lives happen to resemble them. Too often we end up praising and valuing representation that regards loveless, neurodiverse, low-empathy, aplatonic, non-partnering and non-monogamous aromantics as too “problematic” for depiction.

For some time, I’ve answered the question of “how to write allo-aro characters” in one sentence: write many allo-aro characters of differing experiences, intersectional identities and roles within their story.

Allies, however, keep asking me for resources. Pithy sentences may be honest, but they’re inherently flawed: they aren’t actionable. A list at least offers safety’s illusion by explaining what not to write! If you don’t know where to start, or so fear causing harm that you can’t, how can you write more than one allo-aro character?

For Aro Week, I’m expanding upon this with a two-part guide explaining the work allies should undertake in creating allo-aro characters and the stories containing them. I outline steps for educating yourself, discuss how to contextualise your work in the field that is “intentional allo-aro representation” and explain concerns I have as a potential allo-aro reader. Please keep in mind that I don’t provide concise answers! I’m only hammering guideposts along the path of your research and reflection when it comes to depicting allosexual aromanticism.

So let’s strap in for a discussion about language, sex negativity, and, most importantly of all, the role and duties of an ally to allo-aros.

Continue reading “How to Ally: Writing Allo-Aro Characters, Part One”

Fiction: The Cage and the Road

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Prudence Revered revels in her work as witch-hunter. (Well, census-taker.) What’s not to appreciate in travelling new roads, meeting new people and experiencing new freedoms–ones impossible as the demure once-wife to the Sorcerer Potentate? If she prefers to bed and befriend the witches she tracks down, well, she doubts the Citadel cares (much) about a minor official’s lack of interest in investigation and interrogation. The only clouds on her endless horizon are those ignorant souls who preach the rules that once caged her–the rules witches taught her to break.

She thought herself content wearing the Citadel’s uniform, but when a chance-met companion expects Prue to wage a moral war against unwed witches and provocatively-shaped trees, she fears that her new life isn’t different enough from what she thought to leave behind.

Mother told such stories. Their silken filaments clung to everything Prue knew herself to be, until she was less a person than an actor upon the stage, reciting the lines of a play so old that the audience mouthed the words along with her.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Cage and the Road”

Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part Two

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

My second Aro Week arrow pattern post features patterns for aromantic-spectrum flags with uneven stripe counts or non-stripe elements like crosses, spikes and triangles. Most of these patterns aren’t exact representations of their respective flags, as I am constrained by cross stitch’s pixellated nature as well as the width and angled slope of the arrow fletching. I hope, however, that these patterns come close enough that aegoromantic, apothiromantic and demiromantic folks feel included in this series.

Four cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Two of them are arrows stitched on a single-colour rectangular background, edged with buttonhole stitch; two of them are arrows with the buttonhole edging shaped around the arrow itself. All arrows have a tan and light tan shaft, grey arrowhead and fletching in the colours of various horizontal-striped pride flags. From top to bottom: rectangle allo-aro arrow on light green background with green edging, shaped allo-aro arrow with white edging, loveless aromantic arrow on dark green background with yellow/green multicoloured edging, and shaped quoiromantic arrow with mint edging.

Folks who need help with materials, stitching, finishing or attaching patches should check out my tutorial master page.

Previous patterns are available at part one and my pattern gallery.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part Two”

Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part One

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

A couple of years ago, I posted a tutorial for making pride-themed arrow cross-stitch patches. Unfortunately, the template I used back then made it difficult (read: time-consuming) for me to post patterns covering flag style and stripe variants. This isn’t the case with my current template, so for Aro Week I thought I’d update my arrow patterns to cover a greater selection of aromantic flags … starting with simple horizontal stripes.

Four cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Two of them are arrows stitched on a single-colour rectangular background, edged with buttonhole stitch; two of them are arrows with the buttonhole edging shaped around the arrow itself. All arrows have a tan and light tan shaft, grey arrowhead and fletching in the colours of various horizontal-striped pride flags. From top to bottom: rectangle allo-aro arrow on light green background with green edging, shaped allo-aro arrow with white edging, loveless aromantic arrow on dark green background with yellow/green multicoloured edging, and shaped quoiromantic arrow with mint edging.

Folks who need help with materials, stitching, finishing or attaching patches should check out my tutorial master page.

Previous patterns are available at my pattern gallery.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Aro Arrows, Part One”

Fiction: Before Crows’ Eyes

Banner for Nine Laws: Aromantic Asexual Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

Even knows himself: son, baker, non-partnering. He doesn’t want to want sex, marriage or children; he wants the village’s acceptance of a life best lived crafting seed buns and fruit pies. He doesn’t want the local flock of crows as his only companions; he wants human friendships free of pressure and expectation. Most of all, he wants Ma to let go of the idea that a sorcerer’s magic can and must “fix” him.

Desperation leads Even into the forest to seek the only person who can advise him on resisting a sorcerer: the witch Miser Felled, “skilled purveyor of magic and pleasure”. A master of scandal-provoking arts never undertaken before open windows and watching birds. A mysterious figure who has more in common with Even than just an affinity for crows … and offers a more extraordinary solution than he ever thought possible.

Why weep for something no more rightly part of him than garlic in a recipe for apple pie?

Continue reading “Fiction: Before Crows’ Eyes”

Pride Patch Collection: Rainbows

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

As chronic pain plagued me during January, thus derailing my plains, I’m starting Aro Week with something easy: my small collection of rainbow-shaped pride patches.

Three five-stripe rainbow cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. All patches show a striped arch/rainbow shape with a buttonhole stitch edging and a centre filling cross stitched in the same colour as the edging. From top to bottom, clockwise: aromantic (green/light green/white/grey/black), edged in light mint-blue; alloaro (green/light green/white/yellow/gold), edged in light pink-purple; and abrosexual/abroromantic (mint-green/light mint-green/white/pastel pink/pink) edged in light purple-blue.

These patches were made using a five-stripe pattern available in K-Mart’s 22 Piece Cross Stitch Kit, albeit adjusted to better suit my taste in terms of shape and symmetry. (It can be stitched as is: I just have the compulsive need to tweak, change and modify every cross stitch or embroidery pattern I work!) As I’ve long wanted to make a rainbow pride patch but disliked my own attempts, finding this pattern in a kit I bought for the plastic hoop was a delightful bonus. I mean … what queer doesn’t want rainbows sewn onto their pride patch jacket?

Continue reading “Pride Patch Collection: Rainbows”

Hallo, Aro: Hunter – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aro Flash Fiction. Image features dark black handwritten type on a mottled green background. Diagonal rows of arrows with bands, heads and fletching in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold allo-aro pride flag cross the image above and below the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: A cis, pansexual, quoiromantic, polyamorous protagonist who knows what she wants … and hunts the Ring’s witches to gain it.

Only then did Prue know herself as destined to wither inside stone and melt beneath glass, and few appreciate rebellion more than a witch.

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Hunter – K. A. Cook”