Hurting Your Characters: a writer’s guide

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How does a broken rib feel? Can a character really walk on a broken ankle? What are the symptoms of asphyxiation, and how long will your character remain conscious? What really happens to a character in the vacuum of space?

The answers may surprise you. Many writers (thankfully) have no experience to the very wounds, injuries, and trauma they must describe from their character’s perspective. The mantra, “hurt your characters to build dramatic tension,” is as true today as it ever was, maybe more so. But many writers, especially beginning writers, have difficulty describing the acute physical injuries their fictional characters experience, using subjective terms.

Now, you can finally separate facts from fiction. This book explores the most common injuries writers inflict on their characters from the character’s point of view using common terms and examples focusing on the writer’s needs. Stop searching obscure medical texts or lurking outside emergency departments to interview trauma victims.

Hurting Your Characters discusses the immediate effect of the trauma on the body, its physiologic response, including the types of nerve fibers and the sensations they convey, and how injuries feel to the character. This book also presents a simplified overview of the expected recovery times for the injuries discussed in young, otherwise healthy individuals.

Understanding the injuries they inflict on characters and realistic recuperative times for those injuries can help fiction writers establish credibility and more fully connect their readers with their characters on an emotional level.