Writing Tips

6 Tips on How to Write Effective Blind Characters

I’ve read some complaints people have about blind characters in books. They’re flat or not portrayed properly. If you plan on writing for a blind character, please do your research. I’ve provided 6 tips below to help.

1. Senses do not become sharper

I repeat, they do not become sharper. Blind people have to rely on their other senses because they don’t have sight. If you’ve ever noticed when you’re in a pitch black room and you can hear better than you normally do, it’s because you’re paying attention to your ears. Unless your character has powers, they’re not going to have better hearing or smell.

2. Blind people don’t know colors.

If a person has been blind since birth or possibly became blind at a very young age and does not recall seeing, they don’t know or may not remember colors. You can’t describe what a color looks like to a blind person. It’s impossible. You can try and explain how the color feels and what it symbolizes, but there’s still no way to actually tell them what it looks like.

3. Some blind people still see

It’s not what you might think. Most people who are blind can differentiate between light and dark. They can tell when their is the presence or absence of light. There is a small percentage who can’t see anything. Another thing, some people with vision difficulties retain some of their eyesight. They might have cloudy vision, are able to see outlines of things, or see out of their peripheral.

4. Give them depth

Don’t focus on just the blindness of a character. They have experiences, back stories, and lives just like anyone. Give them something to fight for, to love or hate. Make them flawed in other ways and allow them the same emotions as sighted characters. A person who is born blind can still laugh, and feel love, or be attracted to someone. They won’t be attracted to looks, but they could be to sounds, scents, or simply someone’s personality.

5. They don’t touch your face

More than likely you have seen this on TV before—a blind person feels a stranger’s face. It is weird and unrealistic. How would you like it if a stranger touched your face? I know I sure wouldn’t. It’s not to say that blind people never touch a person’s face, because I’m certain they do. But it would more than likely happen with someone the blind person is close to, like one of their family members or friends.

6. Blind people can be independent

They aren’t helpless people who sit around and expect everyone to tend to their needs. Caring for yourself is a huge freedom. Why would you want to give that up? One thing to remember is that blind people do somethings differently. I recommend researching this one or asking someone who has vision difficulties.

There you have it!

The best way to learn about how blind people live is to research and talk to someone who is. I do not recommend putting on a blindfold and walking around to see what it’s like to be blind. Not only will you hurt yourself, it’s not the same as living with vision difficulties.

Below I listed a YouTube page of a man who was born blind and one of a woman who has vision difficulties. I highly recommend watching their videos. They’re quite interesting. There is also another video about someone without eyes. As well as two links with more information about blindness.

 

TommyEdisonXP’s YouTube

Molly Burke’s YouTube

DOCS: The Boy Who Can See Without Eyes

Learning about Blindness

Top ten misconceptions about blindness

9 thoughts on “6 Tips on How to Write Effective Blind Characters”

  1. Hi! I really appreciate this, thank you. I’m working on the second draft of a novel where one of my MCs is legally blind. One of the trickiest things is this: blindness does affect your life a lot, and some people who are blind do go through a depression/ self-confidence issues because of it. And I want to show that struggle, but also not to make the character like ‘woe is me’, portraying those in the blind community as helpless and pitiful, because they’re absolutely not. How can I show him dealing with those struggles, while still being a strong, capable person?

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    1. Sure! I completely agree that blind ppl can struggle with depression and self confidence. I think it’s especially worse for those who once had sight and lost it.

      I think the best thing to do is to not have your character outright complain. He can do it, just not excessively. As long as he does things on his own and is willing to do so, I think that is enough to show he is capable. Now, I think the best way to show his depression and his struggles is to have it happen when he is alone or only around those he trusts. This could reduce him seeming like he is pitiful and helpless. It’s the same with anyone with depression. Most don’t publicly express the pain they are feeling on the inside. Many even hide it and are good at it. But of course, this all depends on how your character is, and it’s hard for me to judge when I don’t know him
      The best example I could use is my character Alsar. He isn’t
      a normal blind person because he has powers, but he still struggles with his blindness. He’s afraid he could never be good as the other knights. Alsar mostly expresses his pain, to his brother, but it isn’t excessive and he isn’t helpless. He keeps going. He still trains, he still dresses himself etc. He doesn’t;t use his blindness to seek attention.

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  2. Excellent post! I am impressed by how much research you did. All of these are very true. So many times I’ve seen blind characters written with only stereotypes, just as you’ve described (super-heightened senses, touching people’s faces, never falling in love, being flat characters). Definitely why Alsar is one of my favorite characters from your book. He’s so realistic and defies all the stereotypes! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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