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Silence and stutters; A guide to mute characters and those with speech impediments:


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An introduction, such as it is:


So, we all know the character archetypes this falls into, be it a character or set of characters that are unable to speak due to any number of reasons. But the thing is, how do you create a compelling silent or mute character? Especially if said character isn't in the spotlight, how can you really rely on your own writing and the characters input to express to the audience what you want them to know and feel when needed?

That, is something I'll try and depart my knowledge on today. I would like to forewarn you that this is all based on my own knowledge, research and development over my small amount of time writing, but I think I can at least part something usable ;)

Now, let's see here…


What types of mute character types are there?

Mute character archetypes can come in a variety or forms, as silence can be interpreted in varying different ways and for many different reasons. As it stands, coming up with a defined character archetypes for the involvement of silence is the same as trying to make a simple category for character types that speak; you have to put them into loose titles at least.


While I would say that every kind of mute character is different in one way or another, I would like to try and device them into a few separate categories, and go from there. These include;


  • Mute or silent due to physical inability

  • Mute or silent due to psychological events/prevention

  • Speech impediments and other things that create difficulty speaking

  • Language divide

  • Psychic/Telepathic speech over physical


While this list isn't exactly everything, it's my own definition of character types within this archetype that I have personally had to deal with either in stories or game narrative. So, without further ado, allow me to explain further.


Mute/Silent due to physical Inability:

What exactly do they entail:

If you’ve been an avid fan of any series, you would have more then likely come into contact with at least one or two of these characters before. These are the kinds of characters who can't speak either due to something physically preventing them, or struggle to speak because of these physical prevention. This can be in the form of something blocking their mouth, a past event leading to them being unable to use their tongue, or even birth defects/situations that make it hard for them to speak (Like braces)


Ways of making/showing these kinds of characters:

Characters like these can be made in a variety of different ways based on the exact reason for why they are the way they are. It is important to remember that, for the most part, many mute characters who are the way they are where never mute to begin with, but due to circumstances, can no longer speak. Thus, it is incredibly important to know exactly what you want to go for before you do it.

Like all other characters, it is best to map out information about them, before turning to their past and reasoning for being mute/silent. Then, play into this trope by both highlighting it, then finding the positives and negatives that this comes with, for the specific thing that is keeping them from speaking. Try to envision how said characters would feel, and try to give them a mindset that embodies their point of view on the entire situation. Are they happy with their inability to speak? How have they counteracted it, exedra.

Lastly, it is important to highlight key personality tropes that would either change or have developed due to said Mute/silent nature. This includes their primary source of communication, as those unable to speak will require a separate form of communication, such as sign language.


Continued development of said character type:

When looking at continued development for these kinds of characters, it is best to consider empathy to the character, before continuing with the narrative. Try to utilise the character around others, while also showing development and consistency with how the mute/silent character speaks or reacts to situations.

Although this varies from character to character, it is best to usually find ways to either bolster the characters normally and comfort around the other main characters In their way of communicating, since over time they should be able to pick up on their quirks for attempting to speak. Remember that lack of voice usually means they would make up for it in other ways, either in a different form of communication or over exaggerated or very quick expressions.


The negatives:

  • Mute/silent characters of this type tend to become very niche if you try to simply add one for the sake of adding one. So long as the character makes sense for being the way they are, however, the narrative should play out rather well.

  • Without others in a group, or without having a variety of other personalities, these kinds of characters can become pushed into the background, or simply feel unnaturally out of place.

  • As with a lot of silent characters, it's hard to pinpoint responses without a lack of voice, especially if the character is not the protagonist and the story doesn't follow their point of view, since you can sometimes cause confusion

  • They are overly hard characters to write in general, although tend to be easier then the other versions of silent/mute characters.


The positives:

  • They tend to give a lot of variety to a group, and can be used for pretty major plot devices

  • They can bring a sense of normality to an otherwise outcasted setting, while also being used to represent other means, such as repression in everyday life

  • Mute characters are Incredibly fun to play around with, especially for their initial reason for being mute, either by force or with a birth defect.

  • When written well, they can express far more emotion then any other character can, but it tends to be hard to do.



Physical impatient tends to be the way to go when it comes down to developing a mute character, as it gives a solid reason for them to be the way they are. However, just because they are that way, doesn't mean that it becomes a norm to them. It's should be good to consider their responses to things, and their development over time, especially when it comes to them wanting to yell out for anything, but being unable to do so.

Regardless, however, physical restraints as an act of creating a mute character are a good way to go about it, but should be done as a part of the character, not as the characters "main plot point"


Mute/Silent due to Psychological Events/prevention:

What exactly do they entail:

As we all know, the human mind tends to play a major part in a lot of psychological stories. Mute and silent characters can be made in a way explained by their own psychosis, either due to a traumatic past or their own thoughts nagging deeper at them. These are the characters who are silent out of mental anguish, mute out of their own brains inability to allow them, or even make them want to speak. Thus, these are some of the hardest to write, but some of the more interesting, variants of mute character.


Ways of making/showing these kinds of characters:

Making a psychologically mute character is harder then it sounds, but tends to be far more rewarding. When it comes to their initial design, it is oftentimes best to plan a simple character out initially, before building their past and working on their history. You'll want to find either a traumatic event, or stage of events, that lead to said character falling into either their own mind, or reaching a mental barrier that they can't cross. One of the best ways to show this is usually from the character's point of view, however those who want to design said characters from an outside point of view are in for an Incredibly difficult time.

It's best to really spend some time to get into said characters head, get to know their deepest, darkest fears, and worries, to try and pinpoint exactly where the mind fractures into an impassable barrier. The way you make these barriers is up to you, however one must always consider that the mind can be a very fragile thing, and some are far stronger then others. But even so, to make a character fall mute is usually down to something Incredibly dark, or twisted, or simply an ongoing pitfall into one's own head. But, once you have an idea, run with it, and see if it sticks! If not, there is never any shame in going back to the drawing board and starting again, since any psychological character will require a lot of work to develop.


Continued development of said character type:

Proceeding with the character tends to be Incredibly hard work. While getting the groundwork in is hard enough, you will want to really emphasise the characters emotional responses to things (or lack of) due to the silence. Depending on what character you are going for, you should really consider if the character feels natural, or overly forced. Sometimes you'll find that mite characters with an established horrid event in their past will have friends beforehand that either don't understand what had happened or become agitated with said characters/supportive of said characters. It is Incredibly important to show both halves of the coin, and to give a realistic feeling to said emotional responses, while simultaneously developing the mute characters feelings over time. You have to remember that development on these kinds of things takes plenty of time, as emotional webs tend to run very, very deep.

The very best way to really further development for these characters, as an ultimate goal, is to get them speaking again. The act of speech portrays the idea of a barrier that said character has to overcome, so utilising either a separate character to emphasise the character good points,nor to share the characters pain, is a very strong way of slowly developing them over time.


The negatives:

  • Characters like these can end up winding up the audience if done incorrectly, as they can feel very unrealistic or simply over exaggerated/non-relatable

  • When not protested from said character's point of view, it becomes very hard to focus on the characters mental state, making it very hard for a reader to follow if done incorrectly. 

  • To really get an idea of how the human mind works, you may need to spend some time deep diving into psychology, just to get a feel for the characters mental state, which may take some time. Is not strictly necessary, but makes the world of difference

  • As mentioned above, they can be very hard to relate to, due to the extremes of their mental state


The positives:

  • Characters like these give ample opportunity to become Incredibly interesting and plot-heavy characters

  • They allow for a deep insight into the human mind, and how it deals with stress or trauma

  • They can truly bring out a very deep connection between the two characters, as there requires a very deep and intimate level of trust and understanding there

  • tend to allow the reader an emotional roller-coaster when done right, which always draws in a good audience



While they tend to be Incredibly hard to make, the risk/reward for psychologically mute characters allows for a great narrative to be made? While they are hard to pull off as a newer writer, there is never harm in trying them out to give you a deeper insight into characters and their thought processes. But, I would strongly recommend building up to characters like these, simply due to the amount of care and attention required to make them.


Speech impediments and other things that create difficulty speaking:

What exactly do they entail:

As the title suggests, these are characters who struggle to speak due to impairments such as a lisp, stutters, stammers and the likes of it. While this could technically be implemented into one of the categories above, I wanted to make a separate tab for them, due to the unique ideas that each can bring to the table.


Ways of making/showing these kinds of characters:

Utilising a speech impediment, while similar in habit to making any mute character, has a bit of a difference to its creation process and development. While you would still create them from a base template first, you would then go on to consider exactly what kind of speech impairment they have, and build up on them from there. Remember that speech impairments tend to create a level of awkwardness for the character, which would mean that a safe bet would be to make them shy or younger, allowing for an easy, albeit fun to develop, character. These can vary however you please, but try to consider exactly how their speech impairment would have affected them over the years, which would give their overall opinion on themselves, others and their own speech.


Continued development of said character type:

It is important to note that they will follow a similar trope to any other character, except either slowly learning to find active ways to help themselves, or to become confident enough in themselves to not let their speech impairments hinder them. Character development like this will happen over time, but should always be in the background as a part of who the individual is, really breathing life into said character.


The negatives:

  • Can be rather tropey

  • Can be kind-of hard and annoying to write they are talking all the time, which they shouldn't be, but can sometimes become a little convoluted

  • Can be hard to represent or inconsistent if you haven't already made one/gotten your own knack for writing their POV


The positives:

  • Tend to be one of the easier mute/silent characters to write, and are quite good for beginners

  • Are always Incredibly interesting to build upon

  • Are. Great introduction into human psychosis, and give a good example of support and trust too.

  • If utilised effectively, can be used for many different themes as well, such as showing off the activeness of music in helping the human mind relax.



While far more simple then other character types, these have always been by far my favourites. Fun to write, simple to start with but can develop into particularly interesting and solid characters. What more could you ask for? 


Language divide:

What exactly do they entail:

While I was considering leaving this one out, I decided it was best to just cover it as we were on the similar theme. Language device tends to be another good way to show off particularly interesting plot-lines in narrative, as the disconnect in languages can lead to allot of isolation, or some amusing sense of comedy.


Ways of making/showing these kinds of characters:

You can either make these characters overly unaware or blissfully unaware of what's being said to them, or hyperactivity unable to understand and stressed about it. Either way leads down a more comedic route. Or, consider the disconnect as a sign of loneliness, and all of a sudden you have a very sad, depressing outlook on a person's life, unable to really connect with others due to the language divide. Either way, there are plenty of possibilities here to go for.


Continued development of said character type:

While this part of the character will usually not be their main draw, it's best to develop this part of them by simply allowing them to understand more about the language or culture, showing you how the character can become more confident in speaking as time goes by. They can also become more sociable, allowing for a direct sense of improvement.


(No real positives or negatives for this one, as it's more of a small part of the character then anything.)



While it's safe to assume that these are far easier to implement then the others, having a character with a language disconnect can lead to some really interesting plot devices, especially if you are able to write in both languages. Bit, this is more of a small part to a character, so either way developing said disconnect can really play into an already great character idea.


Psychic/telepathic communication:

What exactly do they entail:

These are characters that are able to communicate telepathically, and require no need to actively speak. These kinds of characters can either be humanoid or alien and strange in a perplexing manner, but will always be interesting to write about regardless.


Ways of making/showing these kinds of characters:

As always, it's best to start out with writing said characters background, before getting into this segment. However, unlike the others about, the way you do this is simply up to you, as the telepathic element can truly shine in many ways. You could make it so that characters can simply speak utilising their thoughts, therefore having no need to use their voice, or they could send emotional responses via telepathy, which gives a character an idea of exactly what said character wants, without any words being exchanged.

The possibility for greatness is up to you!


Continued development of said character type:

Continuing to develop character with telepathic abilities tends to be as straightforward as telepathy itself...not very. It can sometimes be extremely convoluted to write said character archetypes, as one has to remember that it's outside of our normal ideas of how humanoids should interact. However, so long as you have an idea for the character, and you know exactly how you want them to be portrayed, simply going for it is the best option, as many of these character archetypes have never been done before. So, after throwing ideas at the wall, if they stick, then go with them. If not, the. It's best to simply start from scratch.


The negatives:

  • Can be massively convoluted

  • Emotionless for the most part on the surface

  • Lack of speech can lead to awkward interactions when considering writing a group conversation

The positives:

  • Fun to write

  • Can be used to create a major sense of difference between humanity and other life

  • Can be utilised to give character a more unique outlook among a group, especially if another character is already must or has a speech impediment.


While strange to write about, the telepathic rout can lead to its own forms of mute characters. With that being said, they don't always fit into story-lines, and can be somewhat convoluted if attention to detail is skimmed over. However, they are always good fun to work on.



To give a brief summary, mute characters are just that; mute. They don't speak (or rarely speak) due to either a physical and/or mental,l or even a lack of desire to do so. While this is a pretty major plot point for said character, it is best to never make this the characters soul plot point, and is instead a good way to give a character flaw that they can overcome while achieving something else. Be this through the aid of others, their own insight into themselves, or the ability to let go of a past, regardless of the way you do it, just remember one thing;

Sometimes silence, in any form, can speak far louder then words.



  • Make sure to be very expressive with character who still want to/try to speak but can't. Make up for their lack of voice by making them far more physically emotional

  • Try not to over-complicate the character. They are like any other character, just with a flaw that defines a part of who the character is, and what they may be trying to overcome

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