Writing Cripple Characters

Hello, hello!  I hope all of my US and Canadian friends had wonderful independence days!  Mine was quiet.  It was spent writing this and playing mindless games, because I was a little tired and didn’t feel like doing anything else.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  I wanted to tell you all a bit about the protagonist of my current series-in-progress and why I chose to make her cripple (this is my preferred term, so if it offends you… sorry, not sorry).

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I wish I had cupcakes.

Garnets and Guardians is the first book in my Demonic Jewels (working title) series.  The series follows Bailey Donovan, a thirteen-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with Limb-Girdle disease, as she struggles to cope not only with her illness, but also with moving to a new town and the dark discovery she makes there.  Despite everything, she remains fairly stoic, which occasionally causes drama within her family.  And yes, unlike many protagonists in the fantasy genre, Bailey’s family remains whole and supportive.

So, why did I choose to write about a young girl who is newly cripple?  I’ve actually heard a lot of theories on this in various workshops.  The one I get the most is that I’m writing what I know, or that Bailey’s a fantasy version of me, or similarly weird things.  In a lot of ways, she is like me.  She doesn’t do well with emotional displays and she likes to handle things her own way.  But her disability is nothing like mine, so she has to cope differently, which really means she’s a completely separate person from me.  There’s also the theory that I write cripple characters because they are few and far between in genre fiction and I want to see myself reflected in these genres I love.  I’ve covered that before: yes, diversity is important, but I (personally) don’t need or want characters to be cripple in order for me to identify with them.

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Apparently, this is a thing?  Interesting.  Chose to share because of number 3.

All of that is great and I’m sure it’s why some people choose to write cripple characters, but it’s not why I did.  Honestly, I just wanted to write about a hospital full of demons.  What better way to do that than to give my protagonist a chronic disease that forces interaction with such a place?  Yeah, I chose a disease within my realm of understanding, but that’s only because I hate doing immense amounts of research.  So, for me, writing a cripple character has less to do with crippleness itself and much more to do with what fits the story and me being too lazy to look stuff up.

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Writing is hard enough without the research.

Have you ever written a cripple character?  Did you do so for the sake of diversity or was it just something you wanted to try out?  Have you wanted to write a cripple character but chose not to?  Why?  No judgment here, so feel free to share your thoughts and stories and reasons below or on my social media pages!

The Most Common Writing Advice And Why I Disagree

Howdy, howdy!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween, and got tons of candy (whether you went trick or treating yourself or stole it from your kids/nieces/nephews/siblings/etc.).  Today, I want to ramble a little bit about some common writing advice that I really disagree with.  If you’re a writer, chances are that you’ve heard this statement at least once (and probably way more than that): write what you know.  On the surface, it sounds like common sense.  If you don’t know about something, how can you write about it?  But so many people take it too literally.

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No one wants to read about that, Calvin.  Unless the guy is transported into each show, then maybe.

 On the one hand, some people argue that the saying refers to emotions.  We’ve all experienced love and hate and happiness and anger, so our characters should too.  I agree with that reading of it to a point.  Characters need to express multiple emotions in order to be well-rounded.  My issue with this explanation is that we all experience and express our emotions differently, so our characters should too.  For instance, when I rage, I stew in my own thoughts and plot revenge.  I don’t really know what people who scream and cuss and break things are thinking or feeling.  Does that mean I should only write characters who stew?  No.  It just means that I have to work a little harder to understand and flesh out my characters who are screamers.

On the other hand, there are the people who think writing what they know means writing about things they’ve done or stuff that’s happened to them.  I actually started writing Garnets and Guardians because people kept telling me to write what I know.  I know about spending your childhood in and out of the hospital.  But honestly, that’s boring, so I threw in demons and references to different mythologies and a protagonist with a disease that’s fairly different from my own.  These are things that I knew little to nothing about.  Hell, my protagonist can walk.  I don’t even remember what walking feels like.  Does any of this mean I shouldn’t write about these things?  No.  It simply means I have to study up on them.  Writers enjoy research (supposedly).  It’s half the fun of writing.

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It’s kind of like that.

 I guess if I were to rewrite the quote, I’d probably go with something like “write what excites you.”  Not in a porny way, though.  What I mean is, if you’re super interested in writing about a guy who has to fight ice giants while climbing Mt. Everest, but you have no idea what mountain climbing entails, go out and learn about it.  Sure, once you learn about it, you know it, and thus the original quote applies, but it’s still up to you to study these things in the first place.  If it drives you to research something, it’s worth writing, even if you have zero experience with it.  So, write what you want.  Learn things.  Don’t limit yourself just because you’re inexperienced with something.

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Because Odin. And election day is soon.

 What’re your thoughts on “write what you know?”  Is there any common writing advice that you disagree with?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments or on my social media pages!