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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Zee"
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2012 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)


>>I do more fantasy than sci-fi, and I don't feel like I'm GREAT at using disability, but yeesh, at least I use it.<<

You know, that's another reason why I dislike it when people attack stories or writers. It discourages writers from trying -- and the only way to get good at something is to go do it, sometimes over and over again before you get it right.

Your characters sound relatively awesome to me.

>>And there are a fair few folks with mental issues--the guy who has communication and sensory processing issues, the massively dyslexic.<<

One of the Torn World ethnic groups is prone to dyslexia, which is a SERIOUS handicap in the Empire because the whole culture basically runs on paperwork. So they developed a profession of people who fill out licenses and do other paperwork for the folks who can't or just want to hire an expert.

>>I'm just not used to classifying it as "disability" so much as "thing that causes problems but can be adapated to," in the same ballpark as, "has an incompetent vampire randomly wrangling to control her mind at times" or, "allergic to magic." <<

There are a lot of different ways to count it, including these useful options:

1) A disability is a limitation. It prevents the character from doing things, or requires them to do things, that cause challenges in everyday life. A character who is very big will encounter certain problems, like bumping into low-hanging objects or breaking thing, even if perfectly healthy.

2) A disability is a significant drop below what is average for a given species. So the expectations are set by what is common physically or mentally within that species -- which can change over time. Human-normal hearing would be nearly deaf for a canine species.

3) A disability is a significant variation from what is socially expected. Dyslexia is a great example, because it's trivial or irrelevant in a nonliterate society, but a moderate to devastating problem in a literate society depending on how much emphasis they put on reading and writing. In the Empire, the Unlettered are shut out of much of the society.

>>I mean, in spec fic, there's so many ways to toy with what it means to have a disability... are vampires disabled because they explode in sunlight?<<

Oh hell yes. I have that one. I don't explode, but in full summer sun I start to turn pink after 5 minutes, with sunscreen; though with some cloud cover or low angle I'll last longer. I just never go out in full sun if I can avoid it, I stay in the shade. And I have had people throw an absolute fit over that. Dietary restrictions also count.

Note that in almost all vampire fiction, the vampires and the humans are separate in some way, not fully integrated. It just takes different forms in different worlds. That is heavily influenced by the differences between humans and vampires. Seriously, try concentrating on "catching fire in sunlight is a disability, being a liquivore is a disability" ... and then reread some vampire stories, watching for discrimination. It pops right out. For a really awesome look at some decent vampires trying to learn how to live with humans, despite a largely segregated and hostile history, see the Donor House series by kajones_writing.
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