Writing With a

Chatterbox: Inkwell

Writing With a

Writing With a Mute Character


Hi everyone! So, I've been brainstorming the plot for a book I want to write, and I finally started chapter one and ran right into an issue. My main character is mute, or at least, she speaks in sign language. I'm wondering how I should write conversations between her and other people. Should I put whatever she signs in italics? Should it be normal but instead of 'she said' it would be 'she signed'?

I'm also wondering if any of you have any information about the practice of unschooling. My main character in this same book might end up being unschooled, but I want to make sure I know what I'm talking about. 

I also need some advice on picking a name for another of the characters in the book. He's a boy, he's a supporting character, and I've already decided on what I want his name to be... I only need to determine how to spell it. I'm debating between Crispen and Crispin. Both mean the same thing––'curly-haired'. 

Thanks, guys!!


submitted by Esile
(April 14, 2019 - 11:58 am)

Hi Esile! from what I can tell right now your story sounds really cool! now at this point I can't remember how to do the signing, but I suggest looking at Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan, because there is a signing character in there, I'm pretty sure they used italics, but I'm would check, best of luck!

submitted by Annabeth C
(April 14, 2019 - 4:33 pm)

Thanks for the advice Annabeth! I'll check it out! 

submitted by Esile
(April 14, 2019 - 10:37 pm)

Hey, I have a mute charrie in one of my books too! *high-fives* 

Yeah, he speaks in italics, and I would say things such as "he signed", "he motioned", "he pointed out", ect. Things that would make sense for him not actually speaking, but still communicating. Hope this helped! 

submitted by Soren Infinity, age 27 eons, BeaconTown
(April 15, 2019 - 4:57 pm)

Mute character buddies! Whoot whoot! Thanks for the advice!

submitted by Esile
(April 16, 2019 - 9:12 am)

Hm, your book sounds really interesting!

For the mute character, I think it would be least confusing for your readers if you wrote what she says as normal dialogue, but with 'signed' instead of 'said.' Italics can identify other things as well, such as internal thoughts, so as a reader I personally would probably be confused.

Unschooling? I'm not entirely sure what that is - someone not having had an education? I don't have much/any experience with that, sorry!

As for the name, I think I like Crispin more, though I'm not really sure why. 

Good luck with your writing! 

submitted by Kitten, Pondering
(April 15, 2019 - 6:39 pm)

That does make sense about italics causing confusion... hm... Near the climax of the book, my mute character actually speaks, and I want that to be a really big moment, so I'm unsure about using quotation marks or not. My sister thinks that if I use quotation marks for her communicating throughout the whole book, it might tone down the surprise of her speaking, but there is the confusion caused by italics to consider. Hm... decisions, decisions. Thanks for pointing that out!

Yeah, I'm pretty sure unschooling isn't very common. I've only known one person who unschools in my whole life. I have absolutely no idea what it is, too. Thanks, though!

Haha! You agree with my parents then. They like Crispin better too. I will add another vote to the name Crispin! (I'm keeping track) ;) Thanks again!! 

submitted by Esile
(April 16, 2019 - 9:24 am)

Hey, I can explain a little bit about unschooling, I guess. I don't do it, but I homeschool and I've heard about unschooling. I think it's where you don't go to school and don't follow a school curriculum of any kind, but you kind of learn on your own time about things that happen to interest you and just do things you want to--I don't think it's just like you're totally unrestricted in your education but you have the freedom to choose what you want to learn about, and you could use the Internet or books or travel or whatever to kind of educate yourself. And, like any form of learning, there are always different ways that people can do it based on what their circumstances, interests, or preferences are. 

submitted by Leafy, age No, not a cat
(April 16, 2019 - 10:49 am)

*Good luck with your book!

submitted by Leafy, age No, not a cat
(April 16, 2019 - 10:50 am)

I'm homeschooled too! It's pretty great! So, do you think unschooling is like a method of homeschooling? Or are there unschooling schools or unschooling enrichment classes? Thanks for explaining, this helps a lot!

My CAPTCHA says ccch. Hm...

Now it says axou. That sounds awfully like ax you. I have a violent CAPTCHA. 

submitted by Esile
(April 16, 2019 - 5:48 pm)

Well...homeschooling is usually where you do follow courses of study, like math and history and stuff; but I don't think you would do that at all in unschooling. There wouldn't be unschooling schools, probably, since the point is to learn on your own and not go to a school. I think part of unschooling is that you could take classes about things that you want to, though, whether it's a foreign language or art or whatever. 

You could read Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, which is not only a good book but it has a supporting character that's unschooled.  

I hope this helped too!


submitted by Leafy, age No, not a cat
(April 17, 2019 - 8:27 am)

Wow, thanks! That does make sense about not going to school. Thanks for recomending that book, I'll check it out!!

submitted by Esile
(April 17, 2019 - 7:41 pm)

Okay, I had another idea for your mute character: you could do italics inside quotation marks ("like this"), which would be less confusing for readers and still allow you to make a big deal out of her speaking for the first time.

submitted by Kitten, Pondering
(April 21, 2019 - 12:20 am)

Ooh, I like that. Thanks! Also, Happy Easter!!! 

CAPTCHA says ubox. Last I checked, I wasn't a box... 

submitted by Esile
(April 21, 2019 - 11:14 am)

I'm trying to write a mute character as well, and so I read a lot of essays by mute people on how to properly represent them. Most mute and HoH people say to use quotes and 'they signed', because italics are confusing and they mark the signed words as lesser than the spoken ones.

submitted by Blue Moon, age 12, Here
(April 21, 2019 - 12:26 pm)

Thanks for the advice, Blue Moon! Good luck writing with your mute character!

submitted by Esile
(April 21, 2019 - 9:04 pm)