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Writing About Characters with Disabilities

In my opinion, if you treat the character as an individual, that he or she has a condition is irrelevant to quality of the action. People with condition “x” may be “good guys” or they may be “bad guys.” Insofar as the condition is not the cause of the action. In other words, if the “bad guy” is not a “bad guy” because he has Down’s Syndrome (or a “good guy” because of the same reason), then his condition is only fodder for more rounded character development.

We live in a hypersensitive time, where we are told that “You can’t make this character [insert whatever here], because someone might be offended.” But the truth is, people are people regardless of their shared demographic. There are people who are part of one demographic or another that are “good.” There are people who are part of that very same demographic who are “bad.” Not all [insert shared demographic] are good. Not all [insert shared demographic] are bad. Don’t let the character’s association in that demographic determine whether that character is “good” or “bad.”

It is just as valuable to show that members of a specific demographic can be evil as well as showing that they can be good. By doing so, you demonstrate that members of any demographic are no different than the population at large, consisting of both bad and good people.

That is reality.

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