Trying to Use Blindness to See

The character I am working on right now has poor vision, like me. He can only see a foot or two past the end of his nose. I feel that I must be on some sort of track. First I wrote that he can’t see what’s in front of his face, and that certainly has tons of literary possibilities. This novel is about time, and being myopic about history is part of the human condition. I often have trouble seeing what’s happening right in front of me.

This character has created some problems. In a hostile world, a character who can’t see has a very low chance of survival. So I had to make that happen. Then I had to figure out a way for him to be effective, so that he can carry out the role he has to play in the arc of the story. I did both of those things. What’s tripping me up the most is trying to imagine how his blindness can actually act as an advantage.

I partly achieved that goal with setting, placing the character where there is constant sunlight and little change extending towards the horizon. I like the idea that he can work in that environment better than other characters with better vision. He doesn’t rely on his eyes as much as other people, and the constant brightness is not as bothersome to him.

The real trick is carrying the idea through the whole story, having the character always act in a manner consistent with his handicap. My other plotlines and characters must also be developed, but I can’t forget the ideas I have about Riika. It’s going to take a lot of work to get it to where it needs to be, but as I mold it I can see that there is something hidden there, in the clay.


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