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Aerden [userpic]
On Writing Characters with Physical Problems

Writing: I've been mulling over in my head today the issue of my character Garedin's eye problem. Garedin, his twin brother, and his father (and his father's relatives) predominantly have a condition called achromatopsia or monochromatic colorblindness; they can see no color at all, only shades of gray.

This gives them excellent night vision, but their vision during the day or whenever they are in the presence of light is quite poor. They have to wear blindfolds, essentially, to block out the light as much as possible.

I have itched to write a character with this condition ever since I first read its description in Oliver Sacks' book, The Island of the Colorblind.

But I'm asking myself, 'Does Garedin need it? Does the plot need it?'

I wanted Garedin to have the ability because it would make him better able to see the shipwreck in chapter 1 or 2. But you know, ships have wrecked during night-time storms for millennia, and normally-sighted people have always somehow managed to effect rewcues. So I'm asking myself if perhaps the achromatopsia is just A Cool Thing I Want to Use. Logically, if I can tell the story without it, then I shouldn't use it.

I guess I"m just annoyed that, if I ditch the colorblindness, I lose the chance to explore how a royal court would operate when the royal family are achromats, but most of the courtiers are not. I'm presuming that there would be some intermarriage between the royal family and other noble families, so some courtiers might well achromats, also. I like exploring the cultural aspect. For me, that is almost as much fun as writing the book, itself.

I also have to ask myself if, as a person who is legally blind, am I just projecting a variant of my own eye problem into the fictional world, and is that lame or valid?

I suppose the answer is to just write the story the way I feel it, and let the chips fall where they may.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
(No subject) - (Anonymous)

Re Ingrid--Better than a bad case of foot in mouth disease. (g)

A more intelligent/thoughtful reply will come tomorrow evening. :)


If it serves the story and the worldbuilding, I'd say go for it, but I think it ultimately falls to you to think long and hard and determine if you've got an interesting idea that will make for a unique and engaging story, Mary Sue-istic self-insertion, or a Jar of Tang-esque "LOOKIT MY IDEA YAY" sort of thing. Part of it will, of course, lie in the execution.

I agree with that view.

Although there are books where disabilities are explored explicitly, do remember that if you want to explore it's cultural impact as a family trait, you need to not spoon-feed the audience with it.

just catching up with friends here.

On the other hand, when I (thought I) created a disabled character in fandom so she could be sent away; she not only wouldn't go, she insisted on being a major character.

-- H

I say keep it in! It sounds like an interesting idea. I don't know how developed the plot is, but it could lead to something good later on.