Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Professional book editor in the UK advises how to create & write a dyslexic character in your novel!
One of the aspects I loved about the Percy Jackson series was that Percy, and most of the other demigods, had dyslexia, something you don't often see in literature.
Rick Riordan created the perfect balance between showing the struggles that come with dyslexia, but also how being dyslexic helped the characters to save the world.
Sadly, though, some people still have the wrong idea about dyslexia, with common assumptions being that dyslexic people have lower intelligent and IQs; can't read or spell; have vision problems; aren't trying hard enough; and will grow out of it, but these few false stereotypes need to be stomped out, especially if you want to create a dyslexic character for your novel.
If your dyslexic character is merely a stereotype, your readers, particularly the ones WITH dyslexia themselves, will quickly pick up on it and struggle to take them seriously.
So, this post will give you a few points and questions to consider for when you're creating, developing and writing your dyslexic character for your novel.
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Although people with dyslexia struggle a lot more when it comes to academia and studying, it doesn't mean they can't achieve academic success or gain qualifications.
Unless it makes sense for your dyslexic character to be a high school drop-out, consider what level of education they have achieved, or where they aim to be in 5-10 years time (if they're a younger character).
People with dyslexia can absolutely get degrees and PHDs, so don't rule certain levels of education out just because they have dyslexia!
Some people with dyslexia struggle to read and spell, but others don't have these issues, so you may want to consider the other things your character struggles with.
Do they forget things easily?
Do they find it difficult to follow complex instructions?
Are they rubbish at maths and with numbers?
Do they have trouble with their left and right?
Do they struggle to get their words out sometimes?
Does it take a while for new information to click in their brain at times?
Do they see the bigger picture instead of the minor details?
Do they need tinted glasses or coloured overlays so they can read more fluently?
Are they rubbish with directions?
Does it take them longer to complete a "simple" task?
Struggles and obstacles can feel like a huge part of having dyslexia, but it's not all bad, so it's important to focus on the positives when creating your dyslexic character as well as the difficulties.
Are they more creative than their peers?
Can their unique way of thinking help them solve problems others can't fix?
Do they often think outside the box?
Can they see the overall picture of a situation rather than one aspect of it?
Are they better at physical activities such as combat, survival and agility?
Can their high intuition harmonise another characters logic?
Are they better at communicating verbally, perhaps to get out of a sticky situation?
Although dyslexia is something to portray in the correct way, it shouldn't be the ONLY thing about your character.
Yes, having dyslexia may make them struggle more than others, but you shouldn't make your readers feel like dyslexia is the only thing about them.
Remember, people with dyslexia are just like everyone else but with a diagnosis and a brain wired a bit differently, so aim to make your dyslexic characters three-dimensional and believable with a few realistic traits thrown into the mix.
I hope you enjoyed this article on how to create and write a dyslexic character. If you'd like more character creation tips, check out the related posts below:
Good luck and happy writing!
- Chelsea x
Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm the book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my independent editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!
With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!