Characters with Hampered Abilities

I make a point of trying not to complain about my pregnancy. I know that lots of women would trade anything for this experience, and I know I’ve been very blessed to have had a fairly easy-peasy time of it so far. But it is a fact that my physical abilities are now startlingly narrow compared to a few months ago.

Activities I wouldn’t have blinked at before, like shoving the bed one foot to the side, sitting all day at a desk, or taking a bath, are now out of the question or ridiculously taxing.

It’s got me thinking about characters with hampered abilities–whether from battle wounds, illness, or other conditions. I’ve started re-reading Raymond E. Feist’s Krondor trilogy, and there’s a character who just keeps walking no matter how many times he gets kicked and stabbed. It’s become a little annoying.

However, the new fourth season of The Legend of Korra deals with this in interesting ways. We’ve seen Korra bounce back from taking a beating so many times over the course of the show.

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So what happens when she can’t just bounce back physically and emotionally? What happens when she has to take time to heal? That’s what we get to find out. The second episode airs tonight!

These are my questions to consider with impaired characters:

How long does a character stubbornly try to ignore her hampered abilities? (For me, as long as I can.)

How is she affected mentally and emotionally when (not “if”) something forces her to come to terms with her limitations? (Don’t know about your character, but I tend to get a bit depressed.)

Who does she trust to support her during those times? (Trust is the key word here.)

Does it ever get any better? (Soon I will have a tiny baby! And after a while I’ll be able to move boxes and beds and whatnot again.)

Happy Yarning.

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7 thoughts on “Characters with Hampered Abilities

  1. Great post Julia! I’ve thought a lot about this in relation to Malloria after she gets away from Borgon and it’s been great to see how that affects her for the rest of her life. She may be a strong character but it’s been good for me to write about how rock bottom comes and how she gets out of it. There’s so much to learn from answering these questions.

  2. That bugs me too! When a character goes through torture, and then comes out essentially the same because they were able to “lock a portion of their mind away” that feels like cheating. It seems to me the tragedy of violence is not the brutality, but how it affects them (sometimes years) afterwards.

    So in writing Riak’s story, I deliberately decided to give him PTSD. It is harrowing to be inside his mind and see how broken he is, but he keeps bugging me that his story needs to be told. So that’s what I’m doing now.

    • I should also add that Riak had his tongue cut out as part of his torture, and getting into his head about how he communicates has been really helpful for me as a writer, since I tend to rely so heavily on dialogue. He can write and use signlanguage, but because that takes more effort than talking, he’s very careful with his words. Also, I’m more aware of his facial expressions and body language, because why write out a question when he can make a face that says “What the heck are you talking about?”

  3. Yes! Oooo, I will have to deal with that soon. *evil grins*
    And also, hooray for impaired Korra! I’m pumped for this season.

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