Writing (Main) Characters with Underlying Conditions

Hi all.

I have a scene in mind for my WiP - the MC awakens in the hospital post-unconsciousness due to issues related to insulin/glucose levels. As much as I wish to include this aspect of their character in the story, I have some worries about how to go about writing this, and maintaining it both fairly and believably for the long run. Please advise.

  • Is writing an otherwise-fairly-customisable (gender, personality, interests, relationships) MC with an underlying health condition - in this case, type 1 diabetes - limiting in some way, shape, or form to the player? Is it a subject that might upset or trigger players?
  • The MC of this story is intended to be in their mid/late teens - let us say 15 or 16 years of age. Aside from the other complications this might cause, is writing a character who is (essentially) a child with an underlying health condition a bad idea? If so, please do explain why you think that.
  • I do not have diabetes and I do not know anybody personally with type 1 diabetes. How should I go about writing this when I can only really learn from theory and not practise? Should I do as comprehensive of a research session as possible in advance, or allow myself to make errors and be corrected by readers (as much as possible)? Are there any sources that might be particularly useful for said research?

Thank you all in advance. If there is anything glaringly obvious that I have missed out mentioning, please let me know.


If the condition is relevant to the character and therefore the story, i see no reason to remove it.

  • I don’t know what you mean excatly by limiting, if you mean interfere with choices or the experience in general, then that’ll just depend on how you write it. If the player is aware of this condition and how it works, i think they’ll understand that something like this comes with its own effects on a persons life (in this case, the main character).

    As for upsetting people. It might not be avoidable, but you could say that for any other work out there. Just focus on what you are doing to make sure it’s well implemented.

  • Not every story has to be told behind the eyes of an adult. Children and teenagers are also not absent from dease, so no one can say this is an impossible scenario or that it doesn’t make any sense. The only possible way i can see it being a bad idea is if the character’s condition has little to no relevance at all, to the point where you could just remove it completely and nothing would change. Otherwise, this is still your character and you decide what to do with them (Even if it’s an MC for the player to customize to some extent).

  • Research. The amount will depend on how relevant the condition is for the character and the story, so better get to reading i guess. You don’t have to have had any experience or know anyone with the condition to how it works or how you should implement it in your story, that’s what research is for.

    Just make sure you put the necessary amount of time looking into it, depending on how relevant the condition is to the story. This way you can avoid errors and getting corrected too much by the readers.

    Not giving enough care to a subject can make your work come out as insulting (even if that’s not the intention), but if you start worrying way more than you should, it might just look patronizing. So i say focus more on how you can implement this condition into the character to give it more relevance instead of other outside factors, like who you might upset in the process (You could always put a warning on it, so people will know if they should avoid it or not). That way you’ll be able to implement it right.

Think this got pretty long, sorry bout that.


Thank you for the length of response, actually.

While the story is not about the MC’s health, I don’t want to risk writing in something so serious as a seemingly token diversity point. I wish to write this in a way that conveys a realistic portrayal of the impact of living with a lifelong health condition without making it into a story about health - rather, a story about a person whose life involves their health but does not revolve around it (or worse, I think, treating it as a character quirk). Does that make sense?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a story about health for it to be relevant. If it has a purpose then don’t take it away, even if its not the focus.


Well, thank you, that is quite helpful.

If there is any other advice to be offered, do let me know.