How to Write About a Fictional Character With Chronic Illness
Thursday, 28 May 2020

For authors writing about different and interesting characters can make or break a story. Oftentimes this unique character added has a chronic illness. However, it can sometimes be difficult for these characters to be described correctly, especially if the writer does not have the illness themselves. Here are some tips for how to write about a fictional character with a chronic illness.

Why It's Important to Write About Characters with Chronic Illness

Though they may not be the simplest characters to create, characters with chronic illnesses add a lot of color and diversity to a story. It also directly includes a specific group of people, and might help you reach relevant audiences. The following are some reasons for why it is important to write about characters with a chronic illness.

It Adds Diversity: Writing about characters that have unique life experience can help with diversifying the characters in your work. Although it is important to include back stories for these fictional individuals, it is important that you do not make their chronic illness their only character trait.

It Can Make Those With Chronic Illnesses Feel Included: For people with chronic illness, reading a story with a character going through similar situations as they are can help to make them feel more represented.

It Gives Readers a Unique Perspective: Writing about characters with chronic illnesses can help readers without such experiences better understand what others go through. This can be especially good for the writers of childrens or young adult books, because teenagers and children sometimes need more explanation about a situation in order to fully empathize and know how to treat others in specific situations.

Thoroughly do Your Research

It is extremely important that you fully do your research on any topic that you write about, but this is especially true when it comes to writing about characters with a chronic illness. The last thing that you want to do as an author is offend anyone or misrepresent a group of people. For example, if you are writing about someone going through addiction treatment, then you should fully understand how specific elements like an alcohol or drug detox works. You can do your research by reading articles from trusted sources on the internet, reading books, and interviewing people who have gone through what you are trying to depict . This will reduce your chances of getting the details wrong.

Don’t Over Glorify Anyone

A major mistake that some authors make when writing about characters with a chronic illness is over glorifying certain actions that characters choose to make. For example, do not create a hero out of someone doing something nice for the character with a chronic illness. Doing nice things for people, illness or not, should never be glorified because it is simply just a nice thing to do. Everyone should always treat all people with kindness and respect.

Remember to Include Humanity
As mentioned before, you should avoid from making a chronic illness the character’s only personality trait. The illness or experiences should be included to add to the character’s past, but remember that those with chronic illnesses are much more complex than that. Although you should take care to fully flesh out all of your fictional characters, you should definitely make sure that your characters with chronic illnesses are fully thought out in order to avoid this common problem.

Be Classy

Make sure that you are always respectful and thoughtful when writing about people with chronic illness. This is a good tip for when you are writing about characters who have gone through difficult life experiences such as transitioning from addiction to sober living as well. Remember that people will be reading your work, and some of your audience may have or know someone who has the chronic illness that you are writing about. You wouldn’t like it if a difficult part of your past or a challenging aspect to your life is written poorly, so you should keep this in mind when writing a story that includes a character with a chronic illness and/or a challenging past.


Characters with chronic illnesses can be an excellent addition to a story because they add diversity, a unique perspective, and include a group of people that may not have been otherwise. However, it is important that you write about these topics and include these characters correctly. To do this you need to know what you are talking about by performing relevant research on the topics that you are writing about before you complete your work. Avoiding insensitivity or glorifying kindness are also important things to remember when writing about these characters, and these characters with chronic illness should not be defined by their situation. When creating these individuals it is crucial to give them full personalities and not rely on the challenges of their life as a crutch. If you remember these tips, however; these characters are likely to make an excellent addition to your work.
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