Guest Post // Tips for Writing Disabled Characters in Your Stories

Penny Wood Guest Post 5-24-18

Today, I’m excited to introduce to you a guest blogger! Her pen-name is Penny Wood and below you can read her post about writing disabled characters into your book or story.

“Penny Wood is soon to be a homeschool graduate after being educated at home her entire life. She loves animals, writing, laughing with her sisters, and is a hopeless Pinterest addict. She blogs at A Southern Belle With Stories To Tell about movies, Christianity, writing, and anything else that pops into her mind. She lives in a tiny North Carolina town with her parents, two sisters, and her crazy dog, Buddy.”

Penny Wood Bio.jpg

…………………………………………………………

Have you ever wanted to put a disabled character in your novel but weren’t sure how? Maybe you were worried you’d “get it wrong”? In writing my novel, The Summer I Saw Blue Peak, I learned a lot about disability and how to execute it in writing form, and it’s something that’s been on my heart to write lately. It was a little nerve-wracking at first to me, too, but I’ve learned a few things over time and I’d like to share with you some tips on how to write them into your novel.

Research, research, research

Maybe some of you are groaning right now, but research really is the best way to learn how to correctly portray disabled people in your novel. You can find out about lifestyle, daily activities, hobbies, and technology through research. You’ll also discover that many stereotypes about disability are surprisingly not true. For instance, it is a common misconception that blind people touch people’s faces to figure out what they look like, but actual people who are blind will tell you over and over that this is not true. Every author’s worst nightmare is getting told that they don’t know anything about their writing topic. Don’t let that be you; do your research!

Ask them for yourself

This is probably one of my best tips. There are many disabled bloggers and vloggers out there who are very happy to talk to you about their disability if you ask. It will seem strange at first, but we authors are known to do weird things for our books, so you might as well get used to it. 😊 People are so kind and gracious when you ask. I love contacting real people because I get tailored answers to my questions and I end up with a new friend, too!

(Note: Please do not ask rude or private questions. It’s okay to be curious, but everyone knows that some boundaries should not be crossed. I am disgusted with some of the questions disabled people get asked that are really no one else’s business. Don’t go there, it’s just not nice.)

Remember that your character is a person first and disabled second

When writing a disabled character, it’s easy to get caught up in the “s/he is blind, deaf, et cetera” and forget to develop a personality for the character (this is even more important if the character is your protagonist.) The character still needs a rich personality, likes and dislikes, funny quirks, and not-so-nice flaws. They are a person just like everyone else and need to be treated that way as you develop them in your writing.

Don’t go with what you might have seen on a TV show or movie, or even another book about disability

Chances are, they probably don’t have it right. Disabled people are very much stereotyped, often by television and books. It is painfully obvious who has and hasn’t done their research when it comes to the disabled characters (if you’ve ever seen a western featuring a blind person, you know what I’m talking about). This goes back to research again, so no, watching your favorite TV show that has a disabled character in one episode does not count as researching it! 🙂

It’s probably not a good idea to actually pretend to be your character

If you walk around your house wearing a blindfold or earplugs for a year, you’ll probably end up in the hospital. Maybe, if you’re sitting still, you might close your eyes for a second to notice how amplified everything else becomes, or how it might frustrate you if you lived in a wheelchair and had to do everything sitting down (but don’t actually rent a wheelchair or walk around with your eyes closed). My friend Cheyenne Raphael made an interesting point when she said that when you do that, all you will be thinking about is how hard this is, and that’s not really how disabled people think.

I hope I have encouraged you to start using disabled characters in your stories or have helped you to continue writing about them. Keep up the good writing work and thank you to Megan Joy for letting me be a guest on her awesome blog!

………………………………………..

Thank you, Penny Wood, for being today’s guest poster!

…………………………………….

Have you ever written a disabled character into a book or story?

Have you checked out Penny’s blog yet?

Do you want to be a guest poster on Simply Megan Joy? Just contact me so we can talk!

………………………………………….

Megan Joy

Longing for Transformation

Longing for Transformation - simplymeganjoy.wordpress.com

There is always something that we wish to change in our lives. It was the transformation from winter to spring that I longed for this year. It seemed to take forever for nature to wake up and be alive again. Every time I felt the bitter cold in my face I asked: where are you spring? Why haven’t you come? For months, mother nature’s heart refused to be warmed.

In one of my favorite films, Little Women (1994), Jo March says that she is “longing for transformation.” I know precisely how she feels. Don’t you?

In each of our lives there are stages, some good and some bad. It’s the bad stages that seem to drone on forever. It feels like there is no end, for we cannot see it ahead.

With whatever someone is going through, a family member sick or in the hospital, financial burdens, continuous frustration, any trial that we may have, are we guaranteed an end? Are we handed a calendar with a big X on it, symbolizing the day of the transformation from bad to good? No. So how can we continue on with a smile? If there is something to bog down our happiness, why be happy?

As Christians, we “know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV. Trials, loss, pain; it’s all temporary. Every moment we live longing for transformation is a moment of building hope and faith in God. The question is, can we push past our heavy burdens and finally reach that transformation? Only with God’s help, we can. The Lord may let trials fall in our path, but he is always there to help us, never forsaking us. He makes sure that we are equipped, so that we may walk through those trials and come out the other side with a smile.

Choose to look at each of your trials as a test. Can you keep faith that God knows best as you wait for that transformation? Can you keep a smile and uplifted heart as you wait for that change? Can you use your situation for Him? Can you trust in the Lord?

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” KJV

…………………………………………………..

What trials have been in your heart lately?

Do you have any prayer requests? Just let me know and I’ll be happy to pray for you.

………………………………………………….

Megan Joy

A Dozen Ways to Keep Busy During a Power Outage

A Lack of Power - Simplymeganjoy.wordpress.com 1

A few weeks ago, I lived by candlelight. No electricity, no internet, no running water, no refrigerator, no heat, and no oven. It was fun for a while; it was like living in the past! However, after continually trying to get things done and failing miserably for four days, life got very frustrating, very fast. So, I’ve put together a list of fun things to do to keep you busy during a power outage!

1)      Collect candles. Gather every candle and lantern that you can find in the house. Also, for more light, gather some empty glass jars, put tea lights inside, and place them all on a big metal tray (not plastic) and carry it around from room to room for some extra light. Just be cautious and extra safe about where you put flames and never leave them unattended.

2)      Play a board game. Gather your family and use candles or a flashlight to illuminate the room. Scrabble, Clue, and Life are some fun games to try!

3)      Make music. You could sing or play an acoustic instrument. If it’s too dark to read music, try playing by ear.

4)      Play hide-and-seek (or sardines). Make special rules like: you can only hide on one level of the house, or only the seeker can have a flashlight. It can make the game so much more thrilling when the seeker has to go through a pitch-black house searching for everyone! Do not use any real flames when doing this! (p.s. no one is ever too old to play a game of hide-and-seek)

5)      Do a coloring page. Get some colored pencils and a coloring book. A power outage is a great excuse to do something you wouldn’t have time to do ordinarily, like coloring. I personally like this book!

6)      Read these verses. 

John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Psalms 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Psalms 139:12 – “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Ephesians 5:8 – “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

7)      Write in a journal. Document everything that happens and write down how life is different with and without electricity.

8)      Play the story round game. Set a flashlight on the floor facing up and gather around it, (maybe with blankets and snacks). Have one person begin a story with one sentence. Then have the next person in line continue it, and so on until the story ends. Make it as wild or as mild as you wish!

9)      Make shadow puppets. Use a flashlight to cast shadows on the wall. There are so many different animals to do, you could make up a whole show. Make it a game by casting a shadow and having the others guess what it is.

10)  Read a book. It only takes one candle to illuminate a page. You could even read it aloud to someone, if you wanted.

11)  Make a list of all the things you have to get caught up on once the power is back on, things like, reset all the clocks, dispose of thawed out food in the refrigerator, and recharge all electric devices.

12)  Remember the olden days. Electricity is one of the world’s more modern discoveries! Up until the late 1800s, every family had to live without running water, electric lights, and heaters. They used candles or lanterns for light, wood or coal for warmth, and hand-drawn water every day! Thinking about it this way can even make us feel spoiled by all the many “luxuries” we’ve all been given, like flipping a switch to brighten a room, not to mention cell phones, computers, or toaster ovens!

Living in the past for a while has certainly made me more appreciative of what my ancestors once lived without, and I feel very thankful that I do not have to continue without power permanently. What are some other fun things that you could do during a power outage?

……………………………………………

Which board game is better: Scrabble, Clue, or Life?

Have you had a power outage yet this winter?

…………………………………………..

Megan Joy