WRITING DISABLED CHARACTERS IN TV, FILM, AND FICTION by Lara Ameen
WEBINAR DATE: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 1-2:30 PM PST
DURATION: 1.5 Hours
LOCATION: Live webinar via Zoom
FEEDBACK: The last 15 minutes of the lecture will be open to Q&A. Students can also send questions ahead of time, to be addressed during the lecture.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Disabled people make up about 20% of the U.S. population, but only about 2% of disabled characters are represented on-screen, and most of that representation deals with damaging stereotypes. Films and novels like Me Before You boast the dangerous notion that it’s better off to be dead than disabled. Other characters, such as those found in popular YA novels like Five Feet Apart and Everything, Everything, portray chronic illness/disability as miserable and perpetuate harmful tropes. This webinar will examine writing disabled characters in fiction. It will explore the rampant stereotypes that are so often associated with fiction and media’s portrayal of disabled characters, such as the disabled character as the victim like Hillary Swank’s character in Million Dollar Baby, hero or “supercrip” like the John Locke character in Lost or the villain (when a character is negatively associated with having mental illness), such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan or The Joker. This class will teach students how to write well-rounded, interesting disabled characters without trite, clichéd, or offensive language as well as addressing core concepts in disability studies and how to recognize them in fiction, ableism/ableist language, harmful tropes/stereotypes, and person-first language (person with a disability) versus identity-first language (disabled person). A resource guide of YA novels written by disabled authors will be provided.
This Zoom webinar starts and ends on Thursday, November 9, 2023, 1-2:30 PM PST. The webinar will be recorded. Everyone who enrolls will receive a recording of the webinar the next day.
The webinar can be viewed on a tablet, phone, or computer (both Mac and PC).
This course is offered via Zoom webinar. Webinars are workshops given online, where you can view the instructor and websites/materials she shares on her screen, making it an interactive experience. Webinars make learning from your home or office convenient.
Lara’s queer, speculative fiction centers disabled characters and opens doors to fantasy, darkness, and whimsy. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Lara’s work across multiple genres and mediums (novellas, novels, short stories, and screenplays), and am always blown away by the vibrant imagination and depth of characterization. Lara will help students dream up worlds while ensuring characters and their readers are treated with the dignity and adventure they so deserve. ~ Jen St. Jude, author of If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come
Lara’s background in screenwriting helps inform her unique approach to fiction, allowing her to create a cinematic experience for her readers, fully realized, vibrant characters, and heart-pounding plot twists. ~ Lillie Lainoff, author of One for All
Lara was a valuable expert reader for Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek. She provided detailed feedback on a disabled character who uses a wheelchair as well as guidance on eliminating ableist language from the text. Lara was a pleasure to work with and her notes went above and beyond to strengthen the book. ~ Rachael Stein, Freelance Children's Book Editor, Formerly Editor, Sterling Children's Books
Lara Ameen brings deep expertise and a passion for story to her sensitivity reading. The thoughtful comments and excitement Lara brought to my project, The Way We Haunt Now, helped me add depth to my world building and approach one of my characters with a new perspective. ~ Courtney Floyd, Creator & Showrunner, The Way We Haunt Now Podcast
Hiring Lara Ameen to be a sensitivity reader for The Reckless Kind was one of the best decisions I made. Her insightful feedback not only helped improve the manuscript but helped me grow as a writer. I have no doubt her guidance will inspire aspiring writers in so many ways. ~ Carly Heath, author of The Reckless Kind
LECTURE AT A GLANCE:
WRITING DISABLED CHARACTERS IN TV, FILM, AND FICTION: LECTURE AT A GLANCE
Duration: 90 minutes
This webinar will examine writing disabled characters in TV, film, and YA fiction. It will explore the rampant stereotypes that are so often associated with fiction and media’s portrayal of disabled characters, such as the disabled character as the victim like Hillary Swank’s character in Million Dollar Baby, hero or “supercrip” like the John Locke character in Lost or the villain (when a character is negatively associated with having mental illness), such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan or The Joker.
Topics covered include:
- Brief overview of disability studies concepts and harmful tropes in fiction and media
- Examining disability representation in fiction
- Ableist language, harmful tropes/stereotypes and how to avoid it
- Person-first language (person with a disability) versus identity-first language (disabled person)
- Novels and TV/film examples that change the way we write and view disabled characters
- How to write well-rounded, interesting disabled characters without trite, clichéd, or offensive language
Materials needed: All written materials and resources are provided by the instructor.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Lara Ameen is a screenwriter, novelist, short fiction writer, sensitivity/authenticity reader, and holds a PhD in Education with a Disability Studies emphasis from Chapman University. She received an MFA in Screenwriting from California State University, Northridge. Her YA contemporary fantasy novel, SPAER, was awarded a disabled writers’ grant from Suffering the Silence, longlisted in Voyage YA's First Chapters Contest, and their Book Pitch Contest. A 2022 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow, 2022 Mentorship Matters TV Writing Program Finalist, and a 2022 NBC Launch TV Writing Program Finalist, she was a Screenwriting Mentee as part of 1in4 Coalition’s mentorship program for disabled screenwriters. Her short fiction has been published in Prismatica Magazine, Disabled Voices Anthology, Flash Fiction Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, just femme & dandy, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, and elsewhere. She makes her traditional publishing debut as a contributor to the Young Adult multi-genre anthology Being Ace, published by Page Street YA in October 2023.
BUY NOW: WRITING DISABLED CHARACTERS IN TV, FILM, AND FICTION with Lara Ameen (Thursday, November 9, 2023, 1-2:30 PM PST) Limit: 30 students. Early registration is recommended.
COST: $39, which includes a 90-minute webinar including a 15-minute Q&A with your instructor.
This class is closed for registration. Please check out our current list of classes here.
Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. She will email you with a welcome message. You will also receive an email from WOW with a link to access your webinar a day or two before it starts.
Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
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