Despite the fact that I am not deaf, mute, or blind myself, one of the most common questions I receive is how to portray characters with these disabilities in fiction.
As such, I’ve compiled the resources I’ve accumulated (from real life deaf, mute, or blind people) into a handy masterlist.
Deaf characters masterpost
Deaf dialogue thread
Dialogue with signing characters (also applies to mute characters.)
A deaf author’s advice on deaf characters
Dialogue between deaf characters
Life as a Mute
My Silent Summer: Life as a Mute
What It’s Like Being Mute
21 People Reveal What It’s Really Like To Be Mute
I am a 20 year old Mute, ask me anything at all!
The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Blind Characters.
@referenceforwriters masterpost of resources for writing/playing blind characters.
The youtube channel of the wonderful Tommy Edison, a man blind from birth with great insight into the depiction of blind people and their lives.
An Absolute Write thread on the depiction of blind characters, with lots of different viewpoints and some great tips.
And finally, this short, handy masterpost of resources for writing blind characters.
Characters Who Are Blind in One Eye
4 Ways Life Looks Shockingly Different With One Eye
Learning to Live With One Eye
Adapting to the Loss of an Eye
Adapting to Eye Loss and Monocular Vision
Monocular Depth Perception
What Is It Like To Be Deafblind?
Going Deaf and Blind in a City of Noise and Lights
Deaf and Blind by 30
Sarita is Blind, Deaf, and Employed (video)
Born Deaf and Blind, This Eritrean American Graduated Harvard Law School (video)
A Day of a Deaf Blind Person
Lesser Known Things About Being Deafblind
How the Deaf-Blind Communicate
Early Interactions With Children Who Are Deaf-Blind
Raising a DeafBlind Baby
If you have any more resources to add, let me know! I’ll be adding to this post as I find more resources.
I hope this helps, and happy writing! <3
A question I get a lot is how to write about common addictions, so here you all go! More to come!
Signs and symptoms
Cocaine addiction statistics
Your brain on cocaine
Your brain on crack cocaine (video)
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms
True stories about cocaine addiction
Signs and symptoms
Heroin addiction statistics
Your brain on heroin
Heroin withdrawal symptoms
True stories about heroin addiction
Signs and symptoms
Opioid addiction statistics
Your brain on opioids
Opioid withdrawal symptoms
True stories about opioid addiction
Signs and symptoms
Meth addiction statistics
Your brain on meth
Meth withdrawal symptoms
True stories about meth addiction
Signs and symptoms
Alcohol addiction statistics
Your brain on alcohol (video one and two)
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
True stories about alcohol addiction
Happy writing, and don’t do drugs!
I’m often asked for tips on how to respectfully depict Black people, or how to write from their point of view. Because something about my marshmallow complexion evidently screams that I’m a jackpot of insider information on Black culture.
However, I appreciate that my followers want to learn – that’s something we all need to do! So I decided the time has come to compile a masterpost on sources from real Black people, so you can get your information right from the source.
More to come, and happy writing!
25 Amazing Books by African-American Writers
10 Must-Read Books by Iconic Black Authors
12 Unputdownable Books by Black Authors
15 Black Writers We Should All be Reading
Black Enterprise – a website for Black entrepreneurship.
For Harriet – an online community celebrating Black women through history and storytelling.
Tea & Breakfast – a Black-focused website bringing you the latest in news and entertainment.
Ebony – a highly respected resource for Black news, entertainment, and lifestyle content.
Clutch Magazine – a mixture of news and editorial pieces.
7 Things Black People Want Their Well-Meaning White Friends to Know
100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color
This is What it Feels Like to be Black in White Spaces
Growing Up Black in America
Tips From Followers
I’m inviting all my Black followers to offer tips on authentic, respectful depictions of Black characters and culture. If you have something you’d like non-Black authors to know, please message me and chime in!
I’m mixed race- black and white, and I think its important to mention the cultural closeness; a lot of black mothers are very overprotective, and restricting. Hair is important. A lot of my childhood memories had to do with my mom braiding my hair, or straightening it.
Here’s a bit too much information about me, which I’d very much appreciate if you kept anonymous: I am an Afro Latina, my grandma moved from Honduras to Ny when she was 15 and so my entire dad’s half of the family speaks Spanish (except me and my cousins lol). They’re all dark-medium skin like me, so when they speak Spanish it tends to surprise ppl, but they take pride in that. My dad grew up in Harlem during the crack epidemic and he saw a lot of people die, including his cousin who was shot in the head in front of him when he was about 8. He has a lot of unchecked mental problems bc of this and tends to lash out when he’s frustrated, tired, or guilty. His dad was also a rolling stone and unsupportive, so my dad tries very hard to be a better, more supportive father for better or worse.
My father met my mother when they were in college through a mutual friend. They were together for a year before they had me. They never got married. My mother’s family is what we’d call a bit bougie, so they didn’t take too kindly to this. They never outright disowned her, but a lot of the time they treat her like a black sheep. They’re a very “whisper-behind-your-back, never-confront-until-ur-drunk at-the-family-reunion” family. My mom and dad were together on and off for 23 years. Whenever my dad hurt my mom (never physically but still) and she had the means to, she would take me in the middle of the night and run to a shelter or friend. This happened about 5 times, each time my mother came back after about a half a year.
I have anxiety depression and add but great empathy, so a lot of the time I can understand what people are feeling but not why (basically I have no self awareness). I am an English senior that lives on tumblr. I am also very reserved but I’d like think I’m kind, if a tad childish. I love rpgs, marvel, and making characters but I have perpetual writers block. I also draw all over my notebooks. I’m not good with my hair though (an offense) and I used to be called an Oreo (white on the inside) in school, but I’m really just have always been a huge nerd.
I also have a baby brother who I love and pick on constantly even if I’m at a dorm. I’m very protective over him and we’re nine years apart so I tend to feel equal parts caretaker and big sister. I am very close to my family, especially my mom, who I talk to almost every day. I am always tired, sometimes to the point of not eating at all, even as I write this I am in bed. However, I love shopping and walking to seven different stores around town, even just to window shop, is how I spend some days off. Like my mom’s half, I’m pretty non-confrontational, but I’m quiet and don’t like to gossip, so my friends and family tend to confide in me a lot. But I’m pretty closed off, so I don’t tend to share myself. I am bisexual but I don’t want to talk about that, bc I’m still not sure. I don’t like to touch people or have people touch me unless I’m close to them.
My half sister is also bisexual, as well as a preschool teacher and a single mom with two adorable girls. I don’t get to see them often bc we always lived in different states. She is a very sweet lady but is very no nonsense, and will be the first to step up if someone’s in trouble. I also have a half brother, who is mildly autistic. We live in different states too, but I never see him because my father didn’t treat him right when we were younger, bc he was “soft”. He is currently living with his mom and writing a GOT-esque epic, which he is excited to tell people about.
A Writing Account From a POC
Loving to read is a bit of a double edged sword. I love the stories, the worlds they depict, and most of all, the characters. But sometimes, I find myself disappointed that most of my favorite characters in my favorite novels are not POC (person/people of color). And if they are, they are depicted as stereotypes. And as a POC and a writer, there are ways to change that. Here are a few tips.
POC are FRIENDS, not FOOD
Now I love chocolate. I love coffee. However, if I read someone describing my skin color as the color of a cappuccino, I wouldn’t be to thrilled. Saying, “Her skin was like sweet milk chocolate, the kind you remember begging your mom for through a candy store window.” I imagine would be the equivalent of saying, “Her skin was so milky white, I could imagine dipping an oreo into it.” Ew.
Not all African Americans live in the poorest part of the city
Not all African Americans are poor and underprivileged. Some of us have gone to private schools, have parents with well off jobs, and live pretty comfortably. That being said, that is not the case for all of us. So if you want to depict your character that way, just make sure you do it respectfully, and not in a way that you would cringe reading at it you were in their place.
Don’t take advantage of our history
African American history is filled with hatred and oppression. That does NOT MEAN THAT IT CAN BE EXPLOITED FOR A STORY. By all means, mention how awful it was, but do not use it to make other characters and or readers feel sorry for your character. We may want you to feel sorry, but more than anything we want you to understand that what happened was horrible and that it isn’t okay to use it any way you want.
So, yeah. Just respect POC. Even though you probably can’t imagine being in our position, be sympathetic, the same way you would want to be treated if you were being stereotyped.
If you have any other questions about depicting POC’s and want to ask a writer who is POC, I’m happy to help!
I’ve had a lot of followers asking me how to authentically depict Jewish people. However, I myself am not Jewish, and not qualified to speak as an insider. As such, here’s a masterpost of information directly from the source!
More to come, and happy writing! <3
50 Most Essential Works of Jewish Fiction
Jewish Characters (and What to Avoid)
10 Things I Love About Being Jewish
What It Means to be Jewish in America
Judaism 101: Jewish Holidays
Types of Jewish People
50 Top Jewish Websites
Top 50 Jewish Blogs, Sites, and Newsletters
10 Great Jewish Websites
Tips From My Jewish Followers:
A while back, I asked my Jewish followers for tips on authentic reprisentation, and was fortunate enough to get a huge turnout. Hopefully more Jewish followers will chime in once this is posted!
As a very much reform Jew, I can’t speak much about more conservative Jews. However, I can name a few common traits. We tend to have very close family and community ties, and hold mass gatherings for dinner at the slightest excuse. Jewish mothers, especially grandmothers, tend to gather in packs. The arguing thing IS true; many religious classes are styled as debates among the older men in the community. Older Jews will drop Yiddish phrases often. We tend to joke about ourselves a lot too.
As a religious Jew, I’d like to add a few things. The stereotype about Jews arguing is true, but the interesting thing about the arguments is that they are (almost always) done in the spirit of learning something new, or bringing a ‘chiddush’, addition, to what you are learning. For example, take The House of Shamai and The House of Hillel in halachic decisions; the two houses disagreed on so so much, and yet, the men of Beit Shamai married the women of Beit Hillel, and vice versa.(1/?)
I don’t completely agree with what the reform anon said about the mass gatherings, but that may be because I live far from most of my family (I live with my family in Israel, while the most of my cousins live in the States), and for me, the “mass gatherings” happen on Chagim, the Jewish holidays. I’ll tell you something, anon, there is something incredible with the Chagim, a feeling that is hard to describe, but is probably best described as a feeling of “home”, at least that’s what I feel (2/?)
And now, to finish up, I’ll say that Judaism comes in many different shapes and forms, and good luck with your story! (3/3) - Religious Jew anon
hi! conservative Jew here, I saw your post. Community is a big deal, in my experience even more than faith. In my temple, maybe you meet through the temple or the hebrew school or some such, but the real magic is what happens outside the synagogue walls. There are a lot of different traditions, both for individuals and for congregations, and people respect different levels of faith. I’m more religious than some of my temple for example because I make an effort to keep kosher, (1)
but compared to my orthodox cousins I’m very secular. I’d love to read more things where there were varying levels of observance. A Jewish man wearing a kippah in public, or a married orthodox woman wearing a wig, next to a reform person who’s calling their friends on shabbat on a cell phone. Someone who won’t eat pork because kashrut and that’s okay. There’s a lot of ways to be Jewish and have it not be a big deal. I usually cue people in myself by mentioning a holiday, Chanukkah at this (2)
time of year. Also one major perspective is that you’re meant to question whatever religion tells you. We follow kashrut laws for food, but why do they exist? Food safety, probably, but still. You’re meant to learn and then question and come out stronger for it. “Israel” was what Jacob was renamed and it means “struggle with God”. Israel is a tricky subject because people conflate Judaism and Israel, which isn’t right, but a lot of arguments against israel are anti-semitic in nature so tread (3
carefully. there are some really obvious no’s: judaism and money need to be handled carefully. Jews got pushed into professions involving money (moneylenders and bankers etc) because Christians felt that it was dirty work, and that created the stereotypes of the miserly jew, greedy jew, and “all jews are rich” (avoid avoid avoid). jews thinking israel is always perfect is also wrong. please don’t define your jew as having a strange nose. JAP (jewish-american pricess) is a nasty subtype of (4)
“rich jew”. please don’t model your jewish mothers on Molly Weasley. Both between the overbearing nature and the always millions of kids. She’s every stereotype of a jewish mom except with red hair instead of dark. Jewish ppl will feed you, especially jewish grandparents (bubbe for grandma zadye for grandpa). Sorry for the essay ^^;;; (5/5)
more jewish things: we definitely look for ways around things! The concept of a shabbos goy for example, who comes and turns on temple lights during shabbat, or keeping an oven on low during all of shabbat so you can reheat food without messing with the settings. Also want to emphasize that there are jews all over the world, who look like all kinds of things, and who have all kinds of traditions. From China to Argentina. Also not just Ashkenazi, but also Sepharadic, Mizrahi, and more. Cheers!
I’m part of the Jew Crew too! I’m reform but I’ve spent some time with reconstructionism and i’d like to add a few points: I think this differs in other cultures (probs other sects too) but we’re kind of ambivalent towards jesus. I know we’re stereotyped as hating him but we don’t really, we just don’t think he was the son of g-d & all that. also I went to a reconstructionist camp and there were so many Jew memes & we poked fun at ourselves (but also goyim) a lot. Soo yeah feel free to PM me
I’m Jewish and this isn’t so much about how to write a Jewish character, but something I’ve always wanted to see in the media is a Jewish character who mentions a holiday OTHER than Chanuka. Chankua is great but it isn’t our only holiday.
About the Author
Brooksie C. Fontaine is an author and illustrator, currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing.