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I don't know if my question is clear enough to understand, but here is what I mean: I have a blind character who hears his parents arguing with each other. With him being blind, I think there would be limitations in describing the scene, which I'm struggling with. I can't find enough ideas to write.

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  • Is this the only scene from this character's perspective? If not, I'd be more worried that you're not taking his blindness into account in the rest of the story. – DM_with_secrets May 16 at 22:27
  • The whole story is told from his perspective, but the character is not blind from the beginning – Nour Fourti May 16 at 22:54
  • Is there a problem with "He said X. She said Y. I heard him pound the table"? – Ken Mohnkern May 19 at 19:20
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    @ken Mohnkern I did that actually 😅 – Nour Fourti May 19 at 19:24
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Hear-Touch-Smell-Taste:

I don't see (pardon pun) why this would be a problem at all, except you can't mention visible physical cues. Most of an argument from the point of view of someone outside the room is non-visible, so imagine relaying a story from the point of view of a child outside the room.

In each quote in a conversation, you should either have a dialog tag OR a descriptor that tells the reader who is talking (it CAN be apparent who is speaking, but it's a great chance to add details). Every time a person speaks, their tone or emotion at what they or another person are doing/saying have a chance to be expressed. So the arguers can yell, scream, cry, whine, be bitter or resentful, express fear, be incoherent, and so on.

Using descriptors just means you need to emphasize the other senses. You hear a slap, followed by crying. You taste the bile rising, or sit hiding behind the couch, sucking the salt off potato chips as you hide. You smell the wine from the bottle smashed across the wall. You feel as the potato chips go from crunchy to soft in the mouth, and claw your fingernails into your skin as you resist the urge to say something, focusing on physical pain to divert from emotional pain.

So it's really more of an opportunity to get inside the head of someone who doesn't experience sight, and show what the world looks like from there. Rotate through the senses and try to think how each can be engaged for your reader. The more senses you can get the reader to experience, the more vivid the scene. People make greater connections emotionally the more senses are engaged.

  • Addendum: While my original answer focused on the presumed question of dealing with blindness in describing a scene, Erk in comments pointed out the importance of describing the POV character's emotional response to the argument. This IS, indeed, one of the most critical parts of a scene where the POV character is observing but not actively involved in an argument. So while a little outside the scope of the question, it is very critical to think about and describe the character's emotions and thoughts about the argument, especially if the argument is about them. I think we've all at some point experienced the trauma of observing parents fight (for some worse than for others), and this is central to the scene OR to the scene immediately after, as the POV character thinks about what happened/was discussed. Every reader can relate to the situation.
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    And thoughts and emotions of the POV character. I'm thinking any child in this situation will have a ton of thoughts and emotions about what's happening, what it means, who's fault it is, what you should, but are too small to do etc etc – Erk May 16 at 15:39
  • @Erk Yes, very true, although I tried to limit it to sensory issues, since this is what the OP was asking about. But definitely internal narrative is critical for any situation where the MC is an observer rather than a participant. – DWKraus May 16 at 16:04

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