The desire to resist conflict is the lifeblood of any story, but for a character story, it is the desire to breathe life into the words on the page that initiates the process of creating a real person in the reader’s head.
Learning the truth is the purpose of the story and the main character. The reader and the character think that the story is about reaching a great, tangible goal (the premise of the plot) but it is really about the story reaching a greater, immaterial, existential truth that will save someone’s life in the future.
As a general rule, writing dialogue for deaf characters can be done by indicating that sign language or ASL is being used by the character. Write ‘In sign language’ in italics before writing dialogue in the normal way. After all, a deaf person signing ASL is ‘speaking’, which is dialogue.
To recognize this in my stories, you will find many references to my characters and body language. I would appreciate your feedback on how you can describe the characters my characters make.
I like quotation marks and italics to distinguish ASL (sign language) from English. In the first book I wrote I added ASL as one of the languages my characters use to communicate. In one scene, they do not have full ASL knowledge, so I had to describe the characters very fully to make the scene work.
Just because you have found that a figure is deaf does not mean that you have to find that he uses or understands sign language or vice versa.
This means that if you write a figure that is deaf and does not use sign language you may be slightly offended or uncomfortable if another figure assumes they do not use sign language.
Since ASL is an expression in English, people will not only be confused and doubt that non-signers understand, but deaf characters will get into sticky situations when the dialogue is read aloud.
If you are writing a deaf character, you must specify an individual hearing level at the beginning of the story. Otherwise, you will never tell the reader things the author already knows about how the deaf person interacts with the outside world.
Making other hearing characters who do not know the signs leaves a real void in the world of today’s hearing people, leaves the deaf person behind to hear how people communicate with them, and ensures that they do not understand a single word they say, even if they know the sign.
Two deaf characters speaking different sign languages meet and they are unable to understand each other the same way as people who speak English and someone who speaks Spanish cannot understand each other.
Two hearing people having difficulty having a spoken conversation on a football field and two deaf characters having difficulty having a signed conversation with glasses while someone is juggling a colleague ‘s coffee in the one hand and chasing for their car keys in the other.
A hearing figure who learns sign language and is fascinated by it and has a crush on Nyle Dimarco, but knows nothing about hearing loss.
Deaf people should be able to read the body language of hearing people. If a hearing person is giving signs and a deaf person is in the room, talk to the deaf person without leaving them out with spoken language or sign language. If there are no listening characters, they can chat while they do the dishes or shout.
Deaf people often come from hearing families and many families do not learn sign language early enough, creating communication barriers that are constant throughout the life of a deaf person.
There is a whole history of references to sign language, and some hearing characters are good at the language and have an early reason to learn it, like a parent with hearing loss or a neighbor who is deaf.
If you are writing a deaf character, it is important that you know about deaf culture and mannerisms.
How do you write a deaf character’s dialogue in a story or play?
I have attempted many, many, many times to write a deaf character to understand their world a little better. Always remember it is still a dialogue between two characters.
The term “deaf” is often used in the medical field to describe people with hearing loss, but is not always associated with the deaf community. Recently, I came to a place where I would like to use a deaf character in one of my professional stories.
I’m passionate about hearing loss and deafness, and it doesn’t take much to push that button. Some disagreement about the use of quotations in the deaf community, but we all want ASL to have the same respect as spoken language.
Given the show’s demographic target audience, DreamWorks Animation knew they needed to employ user-friendly and age-appropriate characters for younger viewers deaf or hard of hearing to follow the ASL used in the shows and learn the characters.
We found the creation of animations with ASL characters for animal characters an exciting challenge, especially for animals with paws and hooves.
For A Little Wild, the team wanted to know how Dave would respond to certain circumstances, incorporating ASL slang and cultural references, and portraying him as a deaf character with his own voice expressed by signs.
The experimental part of this writing exercise was to find a way to understand the deaf character. I think I understood how to describe their experiences in their world, their coping mechanisms, something like that.