1. Toothache Fairy
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    Toothache Fairy Member

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    First-Person from a Deaf Character's Point of View?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Toothache Fairy, Jun 26, 2009.

    I was wondering about this the other night - can you write a story from a deaf person's point of view? Like, if you're not deaf?

    I'm not good enough to try it out myself, and I've never seen it done before, but I think it'd be interesting.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see how anyone could do it believably, not being [or having once been] deaf themselves...

    but if a dedicated writer went around wearing ear plugs for a year, i guess s/he could pull it off...
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You could do it. There are authors who have mentally ill characters in their novels, and they are, IMO, completely believable.
     
  4. SingToMeMuse
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    I think it would be interesting
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I don't think it would be hard to imagine what it's like to be deaf, blind, or lack any of the senses.
     
  6. starseed
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    It could be believable. A good way to research would be communicating/interviewing a deaf person. There are forums on the net where I'm sure a lot of people would be willing to answer any questions you might have. People usually like to talk about their experiences. :) Google "deaf forums" or "deaf community" for a good place to start.
     
  7. OneMoreNameless
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    It might be easy to imagine or simulate for a few hours, but there would be dozens or more small, everyday things that you might not even consider without experiencing the condition for a lengthy period yourself.

    That said, it should still be plausible to write about as anything else if you did the research first (as starseed suggested).
     
  8. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    The key to this is research I think. If you blocked your own hearing for a couple of days you could get an idea of how everyday life is, plus you can also strive to find out how they learn to do what they can, read lips, talk + more. You can also write from a deaf person's point of view in a society where deaf babies get no special attention, and see how the character develops to overcome the challenges of his or her deafness. Making it completely realistic will probably either prove itself impossible or extremely time consuming.
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Given how drastically the perceptions and cognitive processes of people deprived of sight for only a few days change, I find it hard to believe that anyone could write well enough to convince readers that have those experiences.

    You might be interested in the book The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks, it deals with the consequences of blindness on thought and perception.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    One note on details that people generally don't think of, which will help the OP's research and understand what it's like for a deaf person. There are so many sounds that we take for granted and hardly even notice are there. When my cousin got her coclear implant, she couldn't stop going on and on about the sounds she didn't know existed. She could figure out that certain things made noise, obviously. She knew that when a microwave finishes its countdown, it beeps. But she had no idea that it hums while it heats things up. Same with the fridge. She had no idea that the fridge made noise, or that turn signals clicked.

    Because someone who is comepletely deaf has no sound, they relate to language in ways that hearing people don't. They don't understand tone of voice to the same degree we do, so they rely heavily on body language, even when not actually signing, to get across what they say when it goes beyond the words. Although any deaf person can learn to read and write as well as anyone else, they aren't going to learn it and relate to written language in the same way because they don't have the sounds that we do. When a child doesn't automatically know what a word is when they see it, or can't remember how to spell it, the first thing we do is tell them to sound it out. Can't be done with someone who doesn't live in a world with sound. Sign language also doesn't have the same dependence on grammar and sentence structure that oral and written language do.

    I'd suggest reading the play, Children of a Lesser God. Or watching the movie. I haven't read the play, but I've seen the movie. It shows many degrees of hearing impairment, and how they relate to language, the hearing world, and even how they experience music. Hard to imagine, but some deaf people love music as much as we do. In fact, the star of that movie was in Dancing with the Stars.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If someone can pull off autism, we can do hearing impairment.
     
  12. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I'm not deaf, but I've learned very recently that I do not hear well at all. That was actually surprising news to me because I thought I did hear well until someone pointed out to me that I couldn't hear them when they were about twenty feet away from me. While I may not be deaf entirely, I have noticed that I rely very heavily on my ability to read lips (something I had to learn to do when my mom had a trach) and on body language as well. I think it is possible to do it realistically with a lot of research.

    -Lynn
     
  13. lovely
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    Ambrose Bierce or Stephen Crane (I can't remember which) actually had a short story from a deaf boy's perspective. I can't think of the title at the moment, but it was about the Civil War (as many of his are). You should try googling it. If I find it I'll post.
     
  14. lovely
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    It's Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce.
     
  15. Maroon
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    Absolutely agree. Whilst it may sometimes help, I don't believe an author has to experience a given situation to write about it.

    Clearly some subjects require more research and sensitive handling, but it can all be done if the writing is strong enough.
     
  16. Atarxia
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    Coincidentally as I registered today, I happen to be deaf. I do use sign language to communicate. I don't mind answering any questions you might have, but I think I have an idea of what you're curious about.
     
  17. Unit7
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    There is a character in the Stephen King novel The Stand who is deaf. Actually he is deaf and mute. The parts where it was his point of view were believeable enough.

    Though this was done in third person.
     
  18. Brightsmiles
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    happy birthday by the way (no i'm not a psycho stalker lol - i just like to check out the new ppl's profiles) ;)
     
  19. nativesodlier
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    I think it can be done. The character would have to have some good lip-reading skills, unless him/her not being able to understand the world around them or what people are going on about which can be interesting as well. would love to read some chapters if your pursue this.
     

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