By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie

Representation of people with chronic illness and disability is few and far between in literature and I hope to change that. I recently started reading for fun again; after not being able to for so long due to my illness. Unfortunately, I have been struggling to find characters that I connect with i.e. characters with a chronic illness.

There are very few fiction books out there with characters with a chronic illness or disability. A lot of books explore mental health themes such as ‘The Catcher in the Rye‘ and ‘The Bell Jar‘, but not themes of long term illness. The only books that spring to mind are cancer themed such as ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘ and ‘Before I Die‘ where the main characters have a terminal illness which, of course, is very different to chronic illness. ⁠

Here are five writing prompts for writers who want to explore chronic illness and disability themes in their work or just want to write a character with a chronic illness or disability. These prompts can be used for short stories, novel chapters, screenplays, poetry and more!

I am currently taking submissions for my fiction section. Find out more here. I would love to read what you come up with for these prompts and I will be sharing my own attempts in due course.

5 Creative Writing Prompts: Chronic Illness and Disability

1. Start of illness

Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels

Write a charter who is just getting sick. Show the subtle ways in which the illness is manifesting.

How is it affecting their life? Who notices first? When do they seek medical assistance? Point of view? First, second or third person?

2. Zombie Apocalypse

Photo by Juan C. Palacios from Pexels

It’s the start of a zombie apocalypse. write from the point of view of someone who uses a mobility aid.

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What are the thoughts and fears of the character? How are they treated by the people around them? Does their mobility aid help or hinder them?

3. YA Romance: Meet cute

Write a young adult romance from the point of view of a character falling in love with someone with a chronic illness or disability.

How do they meet? (meet cute??) Hidden or visible disability? When does your character find out about it? How does it affect their feelings for that character?

4. Sci-Fi: Disabilities of the future

Photo by Alex Knight from Pexels

Create a fictitious disability or illness that affects someone living in the future.

What year is it? Are they human or another species? How does their disability affect their daily life? What are the jobs of the future? How are they treated by others?

Read my take on this prompt here

5. A Story Through DMs

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Tell a story via DMs between two people where one of them is bedridden.

How did they meet? What is their history? What do they do all day? Age? Young or old? Do they see each other in person often?

I hope that you enjoyed these creative writing prompts!

I would love to read what you came up with for each of them.

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