Sunday, October 17, 2010

Story Perspectives

One of my ambitions in life is to write a story from the perspective of a nonverbal or minimally verbal person, who does not find an effective substitute to speech (except possibly at the very end of the story). And preferably have it be a story that would be suitable for a child or teenager to read.

I had an idea, for one autistic kid I knew, of finding a book about someone like him, and reading it to him to see if he'd show interest. I looked all around, and didn't find anything, apart from autobiographies.

One thing that has brought me great joy, is being able to find stories about people like me. The Wind Singer by William Nicholson has Kestrel, the protagonist, who has the same fear of being controlled and passion for what's right that I have. Other stories have kids who've grown up knowing they were different but with that difference being obscure and hard to pinpoint. Even when their personalities don't fit me as closely as Kestrel's, I resonate with their view of difference. And I'd like there to be stories for the kids with more obvious differences, as well.

But it's not easy for me to write these stories. I'm very verbal, and like many authors, I tend to unconsciously model characters after myself. I need to think of a good story to tell, that needs a nonverbal protagonist to tell it.

And for some reason, many of the ideas I do have for stories like that, are stories I wouldn't want to read to a child. A child being abused because she's a changeling, or a villain protagonist who's been depowered and is trying to cope. They'd be great stories, interesting stories, but they are fairly dark, and a child might find them upsetting.

So I'll keep thinking. Just as I was writing this, I had another great idea. Given my fascination with ghosts, why not write about a ghost who can't talk? I'll ponder that, and see what evolves.


Blogger Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I think you have a great idea in writing about a non verbal character (though I would find it challenging to do for similar reasons to you). When I was growing up, I rarely encountered characters in the books I read who were deaf like me. And half the time I did, it was no pleasure to read them because they were stereotyped in a way that infuriated me and left me feeling more alienated instead of less. I have particularly vivid memories of being excited to come across a very minor deaf girl character in the Bobbsey twins (a friend of Flo who was coming to visit) only to discover that she was basically used as comic relief: apparently the reader was supposed to find the child's persistent misunderstandings of the other characters, usually in ways that didn't even make sense for anyone who actually understands how lipreading works in the real world, instead of sympathizing at how frustrated the girl must be because the other characters were simply laughing instead of helping her understand.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Great story ideas. I hope you do this. OK, I also hope you don't mind me doing this.....I wrote a book and it's available online at this point. It's about me - a woman with DID (used to be called multiple personality disorder) and alcoholism. There are parts that are triggering and harsh, so read with caution.

7:28 AM  

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