It’s not every day we come across a person who doesn’t have all 5 of their senses. Some people are blind, some are deaf, and some are both. Some people have anosmia (no sense of smell), ageusia (no sense of taste), or both.
I have all my 5 senses, so it’s hard to imagine having only 4 or 3 of those senses. And I’m amazed at the people who go through life without all 5 senses simply. Yes, it’s something they have to do, have to get used to and live with, but we, as human beings, tend to take everything for granted.
If someone is born without, for example, sight or hearing they don’t know how different world could be. They live in the same world but view it differently and they live their lives just like everyone else.
But if someone loses a sense or two throughout the course of their life, whether they’re a teenager or adult, whether it’s from an accident or an illness, losing that can take a toll on a person. It can be a little isolating or even depressing.
And I know all this from people I’ve met in the past, from reading memoirs, and from doing research. Even though I “know it,” that doesn’t mean I understand it. Honestly, I could never understand it, simply because I can’t imagine how it would feel like to not be able to taste anything.
That’s why it’s so important, as writers, to write believable characters.
Why is this important?
When you think of diversity, you tend to think of race or ethnicity, etc. It’s not often we think of a disability, whether it’s physical or mental. People who don’t have all five senses are more common than not.
Not only will you be adding diversity to your characters, but you’ll be writing your story in a whole new way. You can’t describe a telephone ringing when you’re writing a character who can’t hear. Or maybe they have hearing aids and can hear a little, but it’s still not the same.
So, how do you write a character without all 5 senses?
Not without 100% accuracy. Still, there are many ways you can research how to write it all out.
- Read books – The library is your friend
- Google – The Internet is a vast place
- Interviews – Talk to people with these impairments and also to their teachers, family, and friends as well. Get the point of view of everyone.
- Teach yourself – Research Braille, American Sign Language, etc. Get a feel for what it’s like to talk with your hands. It’ll make it easier to describe.
There are many ways to learn about such a thing, just like how you research everything else you don’t know about or don’t understand.
There are some things you can never understand fully, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research and try your best.
Have you written any characters without all 5 senses? How did you go about it? Let me know in the comments below!