AKA something I've been struggling with for the past few months in my unsecret project -- my first foray into sci-fi, and my first attempt at a thoroughly, permanently, physically disabled POV character. I've written Craix missing fingers, but it's a loss not relevant to every moment, every scene -- whereas breaking Fry's spine and plunking her down into a wheelchair is something I have to think about with every line.
I'm worried I'll do it "wrong." Wait, take away those quotations, there IS a wrong way to do this, and while I'm trying to keep cliches and insulting assumptions in mind, I know I can't know the complexities of living without the use of one's legs, because I never have (and never will, God-willing-and-the-creek-don't-rise.)
I've tried to plot out each scene in physical terms to make sure I can track how it would affect her. How she'd have to modify her skiff so that she can have everything within reach for a long flight, because once she's in the pilot's chair, she isn't leaving for a while. How she needs a thigh pocket in her flightsuit because if I want her to carry a gun, it has to be something she can easily reach without folding in on herself. How strong her arms must be to 1) propel her chair around and 2) pull or drag herself places wheels can't go.
But there's more to remember, like how if I say they meet in a dark and litter-strewn alley, that isn't something she can easily cross. And how does she shower? And can she sit upright on something that doesn't have a back, if she's using her hands to brace herself, or is her body physically not capable of that? And how does this affect the choreography of the steamy makeout scenes I am honor-bound to write in detail?
And then, keeping in mind that language is as important as story: do I not use terminology like "useless" and "crippled" because it's potentially offensive and demeaning, or do I keep it because it's how this angry, paranoid, deeply wounded woman would think of the changes in her body?
If any of you have insight to offer, I'd love to hear it.