1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    blindness

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rumwriter, Jul 19, 2012.

    Right, soo...

    I've got a character that is blind, and is searching for this thing that can let him see (which it is imperative he find for my plot). But if he is blind,
    how can he find it? I'll also note that he is a sorcerer.

    Originally I was going to have my character just learn to see without seeing. Being that he is magical, I figured I could get away with that, but if he is so strong magically that he doesn't need his sight, he wouldn't need the object to begin with. I definitely want his lack of eyesight to be very debilitating.

    I've been thinking over other blind characters throughout fiction: Zatoichi, Geordi laForge, Toph, Rezo the Red Priest...but somehow something isn't quite clicking.

    Thoughts on exactly how to make this fit together perfectly?
     
  2. ManOfSteel
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    ManOfSteel Member

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    Maybe he's not totally blind but his eyesight is getting weaker as time goes by, so he must find that "thing" before it's too late.
    Or he's taking some potion that temporarily recovers his eyesight, but the potion also weakens him and is slowly killing him.
     
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  3. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    Is it a physical object, like a stone or an amulet, that he needs to find? Something that he would definitely have to view to recognize? Part of what scares me about being blind is that you can never guarantee that your environment and the objects in it are exactly what you think they are. You'd have to get very confident in your abilities to figure out what you can trust and what you can't. Or who you can trust and who you can't. And then I suppose you'd have to grow comfortable with not caring about some things. So even it it doesn't matter what color the curtains are, it matters if there's someone hiding behind them waiting to attack you.

    I always like a little secondary character action, so maybe, along the way, the blind character will interact with certain people who have the potential to help him in his quest. Maybe he will eventually have to rely on someone else to visually recognize the object that he seeks, and he'll have to make sure that that person isn't going to just steal the thing and move on, for example. You don't want to rely too much on magical abilities, or else it'd be kind of boring.
     
  4. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue Member

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    What if the thing he is seeking can be detected in some way other than visually? You can tell if there is iron in an object because it will be attracted to a magnet, even though you can't see that there is iron. He's a sorcerer, can he somehow feel the presence of other magical objects? Sharks can supposedly detect other life forms because they can pick up on the electric fields being emitted.
    Was your MC always blind? Did he once have sight and saw this object which he now seeks? Something happened which left him without sight, but he knows what the object he requires looks like? Does he now exactly where the object is but the problem is how to get it?
     
  5. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    Read a story written by a blind person.

    Wiki - Blindness in Literature - Literature by blind people

    If you want to be authentic, go to the source.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    give him a sidekick?

    or someone who shows up and can be recruited to help him in return for something the sorceror can do for him/her?

    or forced to help by whatever means...

    could be a human or a critter...
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Maybe if he's a magician he can put the whammy on his eyes to 'see' something - be it heat , or shapes , or something magical - like 'electrical currents' that spark off from any living thing.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Let him see shifting shapes and colours by magic but never give him clear vision - this way he'll still want physical sight, not just magical.

    Or perhaps when he sees with magic, sometimes he ends up seeing with someone else's eyes - but he can't always know that it isn't HIS eyes that would see the images - this would create quite an interesting story and would also give him a reason for wanting physical sight.
     
  9. Exclusive
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    If you ask me, it's pointless to make your protagonist blind ...only to find some other way for him to use his eyes to "see". Be it through infrared or "magical means". Might as well just give him the ability to see in the first place.

    "Being that he is magical, I figured I could get away with that, but if he is so strong magically that he doesn't need his sight, he wouldn't need the object to begin with."

    I have a question. Was your character always blind? Or was blindness inflicted on your character after he was able to see.
     
  10. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Why does he want to cure his blindness? It's not a given that a disabled person will want a cure (this is the one thing that bugs me the most about fictional disabled people). You'll need to justify it beyond just 'he's blind, and that's a terrible thing' if he's going to be believable to someone who knows actual disabled people.

    It'd be easier if he's very recently lost his sight, but in that case he'll have very poor ability to compensate. (Though not as ridiculously poor as many fictional blind people - if you want any sense of realism, make a newly-blind character act like you would if blindfolded.)

    If he's been blind for a long time, or especially since childhood, you'll have to work harder to make his going to a lot of effort for a cure believable, but he'll be more able to compensate for his blindness.

    If you want any credibility whatsoever, don't have him trying to cure a disability that has no practical effect on him. (The TV show Blood Ties is an egregious example of this. They seemed to completely forget about their character's retinitis pigmentosa, making her just fine at navigating dark places with a little flashlight even though that condition specifically impairs night vision, and then had her actually tempted by a villain's offer to cure this apparently-nonexistent visual impairment.) If he wants to cure his blindness, it has to impact on something he cares about.
     
  11. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I'm guessing there are people out there with disabilities that are happy the way they are but generally if you can't see, hear, talk, your missing a limb, or something else major there is a desire to have that ability restored. That doesn't mean the person would wallow on this desire but I can understand someone going to great lengths to fix a disablity and that quest to restore ones health is something that most people can relate too because most of us have had struggles of one kind or another related to our health (although maybe not as profound as blindness). It seems like a great theme for a story.
    You make good points about his ability to deal with his blindness related to the length of time he's been blind. It would be interesting to have him be recently blind and see the learning curve as he learns to deal with this handicap.
    My thought is that maybe he is very recently blind and it will become permenant if he doesn't do something (the quest) before say one year. ALso maybe he has a seeing stone that allows him to see very small amounts like looking through a straw - not super helpful but would allow for slow, painstaking reading or that sort of thing.
     
  12. Exclusive
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    Actually, there is ZERO desire to have that ability restored, especially when we're talking about those who've been blind since birth. Repairing a blind person's ocular vision is about the cruelest thing one could do.
     
  13. Geekopolis
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    Geekopolis New Member

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    Most blind people have someone to help them, my boss is blind and he needs help getting around places he doesn't know, he also uses a long stick. The thing is the most important thing with any disability is learning to accept the disability, obviously he's searching for this item because he hasn't accepted it, this usually means he wouldn't accept help from people in the first place or would do it begrudgingly. The thing is having him see without being able to see is like wearing glasses with no lenses, it's kinda pointless and like you said defeats the purpose of him being blind in the first place. My advice is if you're going to have a blind protagonist don't cover it up with fancy gadgets that help him see, it's just insulting to the blind community in the end.
     
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    If he's a sorcerer can't he summon a seeing eye dog? (Or seeing eye familiar?)

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. AmyHolt
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    I'm not sure because I'm not blind but I have a niece and nephew who were born deaf. They are profoundly thankful for their cochlear implants that allow them to hear. It was strange at first for them and they had a difficult time for a couple years recognizing when they were being too loud and being overwhelmed by the noise but they wouldn't trade their ability to hear except if they don't want to listen to what you have to say, then my nephew is known to pop the outside part of the implant off. :) I also know that if there was a way to make my heart better so I could do the things that everyone else does I would love it. Sure I've learned to accept my heart problem and it has taught me to enjoy the little things in life more but I'd love to be healed. My desire to be healed doesn't mean I haven't accepted my heart problem and I certainly hope it doesn't make me a bad person but I'm not going to pretend that the desire isn't there deep down. I suppose it is different for everyone but I don't think restoring vision to a blind person is cruel or restoring hearing to a deaf person unless they don't want it but from my experience most people with disabilities would be more than okay if they got better.
     
  16. Iron Orchid
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    Iron Orchid Member

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    My mum has been blind for over 20 years now and I know that she would jump at the chance to have any sort of sight restored, even if it was just light perception. It certainly isn't cruel to give somebody sight back, or sight in the first place if they want it.
    There are people who would kill for a "cure" to a disability and there are those who don't want it at all, and someone at every point on the spectrum in between. Please don't make untrue, sweeping statements as they are not helpful or constructive.

    Back on topic, I have to agree from experience (I have met and interacted with lots of blind and partially sighted people through my mum) that a lot of a characters ability to deal with being blind would depend on how long he has been blind, the circumstances that led to it, and his personal attitude towards it.
    The longer he has been blind, the more chance he has had to adapt. This could mean that he is better at moving about spaces that he is familiar with, doing everyday tasks and generally he probably would be more calm and less frustrated with what he can and can't do. Having said that, I have known people who have been blind since birth and are still angry about it, or have no confidence or are even lazy and make other people do everything for them even in their 40s.
    The circumstances of his blindness would probably also change his attitudes and abilities in my experience, but as I have said sometimes people will break stereotypes and expectations. Would he be angry because someone caused his blindness? Or was it out of anybody's control and maybe a force of nature, or accident caused it? His attitudes would also affect how he would find a way of coping. Is he optimistic? I would say have a think about your character more, his history and personality and then come back with some more specific ideas of what could work for him.
     
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  17. Exclusive
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    There are several books and research from scholarly journals that corroborate my statement. For the time being though, look at it this way. Imagine someone who grew up, all of their lives blind. What would happen if they gained their vision after twenty or so years? Studies have shown, in the few cases that this has occurred, the formerly blind have gone into severe psychological shock and depression.

    Just off of having to learn an immense amount of unwritten social cues and mores alone, we can see why. Add to the fact that their sense of depth perception usually leaves much to be desired, and so, ironically, blind people are usually much worse off after gaining their vision. We haven't even gotten into making sense of the written alphabet and applying them to things like signs. Those of us who see with our eyes, we think that blindness is something that needs to be cured when it's not necessarily the case. After all, most blind persons (blind since birth) usually see themselves as normal already... and it's "cruel" to change the way they relate to the world just because we assume they'd be better off if they were "just like us" or "normal".

    This is debatable at the end of the day, but I have actual material that argues my side and I make no apologies for it.
     
  18. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    I am so with you on this one Ettina! In fact my PhD thesis addresses this very issue - why do writers assume that all disability has to be cured in order to bring about happiness/success?

    What kind of messages are we sending out to young disabled people when this cultural stereotyping is allowed to flow from generation to generation? What do disabled people have to do to prove that they are happy in their own skins? That they can live, full, productive lives even with impairment?

    I was furious at the ending to the film Avatar for this very reason. How the mc had to die in order to gain his legs back? WHY! He had amazing technology that enabled him to do all kinds of stuff, heck even his wheelchair was super cool. I was totally engaged until the ridiculaous, and frankly, insulting ending.

    (I'm paraplegic, BTW, so I speak from experience. I've also interviewed many disabled people in connection with my studies. The vast majority feel the same)
     
  19. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    I concur! My scholarly studies have lead me to read around this subject a lot, and the bottom line is that books (and film to some extent) have a huge impact on a person's perception of self, on what is acceptable as a 'norm' within a society's culture, If we keep writing about the search for a cure to restore wholeness, it promotes feelings of inferiority, it demeans, and continues to hand down stereotypical responses to difference. No-one would doubt my statement if we were discussing ethnic/racial prejudices, but it is exactly the same for issues surrounding disability.
     
  20. Blique
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    Blique New Member

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    There's a novel called "Legend of Sun Knight" in which the protagonist loses his vision. He's also a magic-user. He copes with it by sensing the elemental attributes in surrounding objects and people, thus he can see their form, but they look more like masses of churning...stuff. Thus, he can "see" well, though it has drawbacks, like there's a maximum distance he can extend his senses, he can't see color, and he can't see details, like a person's physical beauty.

    As for the current debate, I think that blind people are indeed content and aren't "pitiful" or whatnot because they can't see, but it's not like they won't like being able to see. It's like giving people wings. We're perfectly content walking on the ground, but dang, I would love to fly if the chance arose.
     
  21. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    I'm sorry but you are missing the point I'm trying to make here. If most of the people in the world could fly, and a small percentage couldn't, what do you think would happen if the vast majority of stories featured only those who could fly? Don't you think those who couldn't, might begin to yearn for the unattainable? They may begin to foster the idea that, somehow they were inferior because, unlike the rest of the world, they were earth bound. Now, add to that mix, the fact that the very few stories that featured those who were earth bound, had them in roles that only highlighted their impairment and offered the message that unless you could fly, you were inadequate, second class, pitiable, Or even worse, an object for ridicule, prejudice and hatred. In these stories this message is put across by having the earth bound protagonist ceaselessly searching for a cure, and dying unhappily and unfulfilled, because the dream of flying was unachievable.

    Whole generations of disabled children have been fed these stereotypical and negative images because able bodied writers have not sat down to think about how they are portraying those who are different, who have impairments and challenges the majority of their peers cannot comprehend, and the impact this might have.

    As I said, fiction writers have worked hard during the past couple of decades to dispel prejudices pertaining to race and gender, but when it comes to disability we are still on a par with Victorian writers.
     
  22. Blique
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    Blique New Member

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    Well obviously I didn't address your point because I wasn't talking to you, nor about the subject you were talking about. All I said was that blind people are not pitiful, and it's not impossible for them to have the desire to see. You've already gone over the implications that situation has when in literature, so I didn't see a need to repeat your points.

    I also recommend you stop jumping to conclusions, and it'll save you the time it took to respond to three sentences with three paragraphs. Unless you just took my post as an opportunity to talk more, in which case, you can do that fine without the pretenses.
     
  23. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    I'm thinking of a story where a guy has his memories stolen through some futureristic technology but fragments of the memory remain, and it's those fragments that trigger his adventure to discover what they mean. When he gets too one location that is fragmented in his mind, muscle memory guides him to the next fragment, and slowly he starts to put the peices together. Of course, the bad guys discover he's snooping around and decide to misdirect him, conviencing him they are old friends of his and think they can help. Blah, blah, blah.

    Putting this in terms of vision, I see a person that wasn't always blind, waking up blind one day. Spell gone wrong? Was he attacked? He recalls nothing about the night before...just that he had vision before and woke up without it. But he has 'flicker' of sight. So he gets someone to bring him to that location. He feels around, tries to put the peices together...starting to sound like the Hangover movie. The bad guys would have had to steal his vision for some super powerful potion or something. I don't know. Your story. Plenty of ways to make it entertaining.
     
  24. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    There's no pretense here. I've been a motorised wheelchair user all my life so I reckon that qualifies me to voice an opinion.

    However, it is not mine alone. That opinion is also shared by Ettina and Exclusive so why you feel it necessary to respond to me with sarcastic remarks I have no idea. Although the OP was asking specifically about blindness, the debate had widened out, and a healthy, respectful discussion was being enjoyed. Had you followed the thread you would have reaslied this. It is a shame you felt it necessary to respond to my comment in such an offensive manner.
     
  25. Blique
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    Blique New Member

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    I apologize if you found my comment offensive, as that was not my intent. I wanted to be clear and direct, though it ended up looking rude/like sarcasm. My main point was just that I was responding to the OP and the debate in general, yet you made it sound like I was responding to you directly, thus I wanted to clear any misunderstandings.
     

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