I’m sorry if you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve been prepping for this year’s A to Z Challenge. I admit that this has been a little harder to prep for this year. But I believe I will get this done.
Now, on to the subject at hand…
This past Thursday on Twitter, I participated in a #StoryDam chat session about a project raising awareness for the population of people who are disabled. The 70273 Project, as it is called, consists on creating a quilt of 70,273 squares, and writing stories based around them. Here is the link to the post.
The session got me thinking about disabled characters in literature. I follow a few fellow writers that are adamant about having disabled characters in stories. Not just having them as sidekicks, but giving them their due as main characters. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments. I know a few people who are physically and mentally disabled. However, I won’t be able to fully understand what they go through in order to live productive lives.
There are, however, two things we need to be cautious of. One, having disabled characters just to have them in the story. While I do believe in having diverse characters, I think it would be a disservice to have them in if they serve no purpose in advancing the story. The second thing is subjecting them to stereotypes. Just as people are unique, every disability is unique. This is where research plays a role. Even if characters share similar disabilities, there will be differences in functionality, reaction, and treatment. The worst thing that can be done is to rope them into a corral.
Part of the writing process is creating a cast of characters that are unique—as well as similar—to us. Disabled characters are no different. They deserve their moments in literature. I have yet to come across a book with at least one disabled character. I do believe that as awareness is spread throughout, I think we will see more of these tropes of characters. And not just have them thrown in for diversity sake, but as a driving force for awareness.