Eli Wilde, who previously wrote for Disability Horizons asking “how many disabled heroes can you name?” talks about the new story-writing competition being run to find a different kind of superhero.
I think there needs to be more disabled characters in fiction and I don’t mean more disabled characters who are the bad guys. Why do I say this? Mainly because my twelve year old son keeps telling me he wants to read about disabled role models being put into fantastical situations where they have to fight zombies or ghosts. Disabled characters that are cool and can look out for themselves when psychopathic butcher ghosts come calling in the still of night and there is no one else around to help.
He doesn’t want to read about the stereotypical disabled pirate who has a peg leg or hooked hand that usually means he is evil. He’d prefer to read about the disabled pirate whose hand has been bitten off and eaten by a cybernetic alligator in Dimension Zorg. Let’s paint a picture of this disabled character that is a far more interesting character…
This young pirate’s hand has been replaced not with a hook, but a hand taken from a deceased war veteran. A veteran who was searching for his lost daughter before he was crushed beneath a whale-gnat that just happened to sit down when the veteran was taking a nap before lunch in the field next to the orchard growing blood juice apples. Unfortunately for him, blood juice apples just happen to be the favourite fruit of the whale-gnat.
Only the veteran’s right hand remained uncrushed by the weight of the giant whale-gnat and, luckily enough for our hero pirate (all hero’s need a little luck), a surgeon just happened to be hunting whale-gnats. The surgeon killed the whale-gnat, cut the veterans right hand off and stored it in his portable cryonic flask, which he just happened to be carrying around for opportunities such as this.
Sadly for our hero, this is where his luck faltered, as he had lost his left hand not his right hand. Hand-less pirates can’t be choosers (unless they want to end up with a hook for a hand and become a bad guy). So our hero agreed to have the veteran’s right hand transplanted onto his left arm.
Life with two right hands at first proved tough for our hero; everyone he met stared at him and he found it difficult to twiddle his thumbs as he tried to remember what it was like to be normal.
Since the transplant, he kept having night time visions of a dark haired girl with amazing, brown eyes and perfectly formed hands, who kept her beauty hidden from the Grunge Mohawks who had enslaved her. They forced her to make peg legs and hooks for all of the disabled bad guys in a distant dimension where writers fed their readers on a none stop diet of clichéd characters set in unimaginative worlds.
Haunted by the perfect hands of the girl in his vision, our disabled hero eventually made an arrangement with the stars by promising them a night off if they would change their position in the sky, so the ship he was sailing on would be guided to Mohawk Isle.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m sure you have worked out that our hero eventually found his girl and cut off her hands and has them transplanted onto his own arms. Umm, sorry, I slipped into ‘bad disabled guy’ mode for a minute there. What actually happened is that he saved the girl from the bad guy Mohawks after converting the ships main cannon into a weapon of mass destruction that used peg legs for ammunition. Our hero and his brown eyed girl with perfect hands lived happily ever after on the wild side.
And the point of this story is? Don’t fall asleep next to a blood apple orchard if you live in a dimension where whale-gnats roam the countryside…?
Umm, no, the point is, there is more than one way to portray a disabled character in a story. And it can be rewarding and entertaining casting these characters in your story. They don’t have to be there as a token gesture, they can help drive your story to unique places. So, if you are a writer, why not check out Revolt Daily, who are trying to encourage more disabled characters in fiction. Not only that, they are sponsoring a writing competition with cash prizes for the best stories.
The hero they are looking for needs to be a different kind of hero, a hero who has some kind of disability. It could be a physical disability, a learning disability or sensory disability. That choice is left up to the writer. The main point of your story is that it’s giving a voice to your disabled character in such a way that you not only entertain the reader, but you also give them an insight into what it means to be disabled.
There is a cash award of $100 to the first prize winner and their story will be featured in issue one of the print version of Revolt Daily. Second and third place will be featured on the online magazine.
The deadline for the competition is May 31st 2013, and if you have a different kind of hero who has something important to say, here is your opportunity to share his or her story.
By Eli Wilde
Are you a writer or fancy giving it a go? We’d love for you to write for us, so get in touch! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook, tweet us @DHorizons or leave your comments below.