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I am writing a short novel where one of the characters is a wheelchair user

Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener

I am writing a short novel where one of the characters is a wheelchair user (say she's called Tamsin). Tamsin's best friend and flatmate (Rachel) often describes Tamsin's legs in a quasi-brusque way. Such as, if Rachel wants to get into the kitchen but Tamsin and her wheelchair are in the way, Rachel might say "Come on, move your spindly legs!" or something similar. There are a half-dozen such examples of Rachel saying these sorts of things.

Another example - Rachel is suddenly reflective over Tamsin's mobility issues as she stares at Tamsin's 'no-hope good-for-nothing bean-poles' (ie. legs).

It is clear from the story that Rachel likes to be thought of as abrasive, but actually isn't. Actually she's a really good friend to Tamsin.

Tamsin quite likes having a friend who doesn't mince her words, although the reader is quite clear that Rachel is only saying these things because that's how she is - there's no bullying, hate-speech or any bad blood at all. Rachel is equally forthright about Tamsin's choice of clothes, music and boyfriends. However, Tamsin gives as good as she gets, describing Rachel's likes and dislikes in the same vein until both collapse in laughter. Rachel also helps Tamsin do things - like she puts Tamsin to bed when she (Tamsin) is drunk, but at other times Rachel causes Tamsin to do things for Rachel, for instance: Rachel would ask Tamsin if she wants a cup of tea. Tamsin says 'yes, please' then Rachel says 'go and put the kettle on, then - I'll have one too.' So Tamsin makes a cup for each of them, with a bun each as well.

My question for this discussion is - am I going to get into trouble with wheelchair users who read the book (assuming anyone ever does) because Rachel's attitude towards Tamsin and her disability is less than inclusive? I am not a wheelchair user myself, and I have no friends or relatives who use one to ask. The reason for having Rachel say these sorts of things is to paint a picture of a wheelchair user's flatmate who is the antidote to Tamsin (whose character is more placid than Rachel's).

To sum up -

Tamsin, wheelchair user, an everyday sort of person.

Rachel, says what she thinks about all sorts of things including Tamsin's legs, but is best friends with Tamsin. Refers to Tamsin's legs in disparaging terms.

I can give a few examples of Rachel's comments - if you wish to be more clear what I'm talking about.

But first, I'd appreciate your general comments so far - what would you think as a wheelchair user if you were to read a story like this?

Thank you.

Replies

  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Sounds cool! When will it be out? 
  • Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thank you! It will be available on Amazon Kindle before the end of next month (August), then in paperback format after that if successful ie. more than 50 people buy it! This discussion is not a veiled attempt to publicise any future or existing story, so I don't want to identify the book or myself on this forum - I hope you understand. Besides, if the consensus is that Rachel's remarks are unhelpful or upsetting, then I've got some re-writing to do first!
  • csno01csno01 Member Posts: 208 Pioneering
    It sounds good. I used to do a lot of creative writing. Where did you get the bug for it? For me, it started at school.
  • Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    I started writing short articles about various topics when I was about nine or ten for a family holiday 'newspaper' which we all contributed to on our holidays once every year - me, brothers, sister, parents, aunts and uncles etc. This 'newspaper' continued for about twenty years, my later articles being considerably better than my first ones! The newspaper came to an end as my brothers and I were no longer able to go on holiday together due to having families and commitments of our own, but I went on writing and started publishing novels on Amazon Kindle.Two of them are still available on Kindle, the older ones unpublished and replaced by newer and better ones (I hope). I'm not a real author - I've earned a few quid from sales but my main work is as a freelance software developer.
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    I started writing short articles about various topics when I was about nine or ten for a family holiday 'newspaper' which we all contributed to on our holidays once every year - me, brothers, sister, parents, aunts and uncles etc. This 'newspaper' continued for about twenty years, my later articles being considerably better than my first ones! The newspaper came to an end as my brothers and I were no longer able to go on holiday together due to having families and commitments of our own, but I went on writing and started publishing novels on Amazon Kindle.Two of them are still available on Kindle, the older ones unpublished and replaced by newer and better ones (I hope). I'm not a real author - I've earned a few quid from sales but my main work is as a freelance software developer.
    Are they expensive? Where can I buy a copy? 
  • Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    The family newspaper? No, sadly the number of copies produced every year was just one - with each person's original article or artwork applied directly to the pages. You've heard of broadsheet, these pages measured about 4ft x 3ft. The last issue came out in about 1977.
    The Kindle books? Search Amazon for books written by Jonathan Trahair. (Am I allowed to say that on this forum?)
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

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    Sounds really interesting @Wayfarer99. What was your inspiration for this?
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  • Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    A few years ago I was trying to think of a new story - the plot, events, sub-plots etc., and I happened to come across a YouTube clip of a wheelchair user demonstrating how to transfer up from the floor into a wheelchair. It occurred to me that hardly any books have a disabled person as the main character, so I did a bit of on-line research and some false starts, and came up with my story about the woman on the tube train in London (Lucy Gets To Work). I expect I made a large number of wrong assumptions etc. but from the YouTube clips I have seen which show what some wheelchair users can do whilst in their wheelchairs I decided that my story-line was technically possible. I would love to hear wheelchair users telling me where my story went wrong from their point of view. Ideally I'd like someone to be available on email to consult with about the various wheelchair/disability aspects of my stories - just a simple short question or two every once in a while. They'd get a free mention in the credits! If they were to want to stop doing it, no problem.


  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for sharing this @Wayfarer99, it sounds really interesting! You'll have to let us know when it is out :)
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  • Wayfarer99Wayfarer99 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Hopefully in the next few hours, after I've sorted a paperback cover problem!
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Amazing!
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