Here's another "does this sound realistic?" thread!


#1

So yup. I’m gonna do this again. :rofl:

Sorry… haha

But this time, I have a different problem! I have a section in my story that I’d like to share and get some opinions on. I find that it’s okay, but I would really appreciate it if you think it needs more description, more accuracy, or whatever you think it needs.

Now, my main reason why I’m doing this is because there’s a part where the character breaks their leg and I’m wondering if I did this correctly. I’ve done a lot of research on it (specifically compound fractures) but I’m not too sure how well I communicated it and if the graphics worked for it.

To better understand this scene: the character is chasing down a murderer (he knows this person—but that’s not really important to the scene) and he falls, breaking his ankle in the process.

This scene is supposed to be graphic, so if you feel disturbed, then I’m doing my job right (hopefully). But if you think it could use more gore and details, please say so! And if you see anything else that needs improving (grammar, punctuation…) don’t hesitate to say so!


Once I reached near the spot he stood—to watch me—a harsh snap, like metal pounding against each other, echoed through the woods. Through the silence, the sound of a crack pierced my ears as my body twisted and fell forward. An intense twinge ran up and down my leg until the pain was replaced with a numbness that throbbed around my right ankle. I looked down, afraid to see the damage, and realized that the situation just got worse.

My ankle was caught in a hidden bear trap. It wasn’t much of a surprise as I should have guessed it earlier. But the metal that held onto my skin for dear life wasn’t the problem. My ankle was broken. It wasn’t just broken, though. The bone itself ruptured through my skin as blood ran down my foot, causing the snow to stain red.

A small part from the jagged edge of the bone poked out. Blood smothered it, so at first glance, you could hardly tell what stuck out of my ankle. Muscle tissue poked through the skin and in-between the fracture as if it had wanted fresh air. The agonizing pain was worse than what I had endured before; I would rather be beaten to a pulp than watch my bone escape my leg.

My leg became sensitive; it couldn’t be touched. So how could I move it? Or, well, not move it? How could I continue going after him if my leg was not only shattered, but stuck in a bear trap?

I mentally rolled my eyes and realized that if I wanted to see the light of day again, I would have to get up and continue the fight. With that, I carefully moved closer to the bear trap. Placing my palms on either side of the contraption where the metal bars were, I pressed down on the springs which opened the jaws of the mechanism, releasing my leg from its grasp.

Carefully, I allowed my leg to escape the bear trap of hell, screaming from the non-stop affliction. Once my leg was fully on the ground, my body fell back in the snow. With every inhale and exhale, it became harder to breathe.


#2

In my opinion you use a lot of passive verbs, making the entire passage lose a lot of suspense. I think it loses some tension because the character seems very calm in their retelling of the story. For a first-person story also, we don’t have many personal reactions from their perspective, more like they are telling us the story at a later time, instead of us experiencing it as the first person. Also a few of your descriptions seem sort of weak like “My leg became sensitive” like yeah dude it just got chopped in half by a bear trap I’ll bet it smarts. xD.

A crack split through the silence. I fell forward, hands hitting the ground and sharp pine needles stung my palms. But it was nothing in comparison to the intense twinge that ran up my leg, until the pain faded into numbness, throbbing around my right ankle. I looked down, afraid to see the damage and realized that the situation just got worse.

A bear trap had its jaws locked around my ankle. I stared, not fully comprehending the scene below me. The jagged edge of bone ruptured through the skin. The snow below steadily staining red with my blood. The taste of bile rose in my throat but I couldn’t look away…

I can tell you definitely have a different style than me, so I’m not saying do it my way or anything, just an example that maybe making things to be more fast and fractured, and replacing the passive verbs could help with the tension? Hope it was a little helpful at least. ^^


#3

In regards to the title question, yes the description sounds very realistic, just not the reaction from the character! Sorry! I forgot to put that in there even though it was the whole question! I just didn’t feel disturbed, which is what I was trying to say.


#4

Thank you so much! c:

Noted! I shall work on that! I’m still kind of new to learning about passive/active voice, so I’m happy you pointed that out to me! :wink:

I actually hadn’t thought of it that way… :thinking: I’ll definitely look into it! :blush:

Haha, I knew that one was gonna be a weakling! :rofl: I wasn’t feeling for it either, so I’m glad you think so, too! I had read that the broken bone will become numb, but painful (I guess? In a way?) if it’s touched. I watched so many people break their legs on quads and most of them had this similar reaction, so I wasn’t too sure on how to fully describe it… :rofl: But now that it’s been confirmed, I’ll definitely check this out.

Good to know, thank you! c:

It has, thank you so much! c: And yeah, this chapter is still a work-in-progress and this scene was kind of rushed as I couldn’t get through it, descriptively speaking—(I put myself on a timer to “vomit” the words out). But this definitely gives me something to think about when editing and sifting through it again. :wink:


#5

Coolio. ^^
If it helps, this might help with the passive thing as I have trouble with it too. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but more punchy verbs help with intense scenes, I think at least.

For example: My ankle was caught (by zombies). My ankle was broken (by zombies). It couldn’t be touched (by zombies)… if my leg was not only shattered (by zombies) but stuck.


#6

Yeah, I agree with JCRohrer, the whole time I was reading it, I was thinking, ‘why/how are they so calm about this’? There’s no real tension in the scene. And that takes away from the scene more than the passive voice and weak word choices, IMO, because even though they are related, if you could convey their emotional reaction to it, it might make those things less noticeable.

Also, I didn’t feel disturbed.


#7

It reads more like an incident report that maybe a police officer would complete after closing a case.

Maybe that’s the vibe you’re going for :woman_shrugging:

But there’s definitely a feeling of distance and minimizing what the character is experiencing by focusing more on precise description of the wound.

I feel like a doctor might want precise details of what a wound looks like, but readers don’t necessarily need them. In my mind, the gory factor isn’t what will make this moment horrible, but more emotion to help them understand the predicament the MC finds himself in.

“Twinge” is a strange word to use in relation to pain of this magnitude. While the meaning of twinge is for a sharp pain, usually fleeting in nature - in real life you hardly ever hear anyone use it for really painful experiences. Labor pains aren’t usually described as twinges for example.

“Mentally rolling eyes” also feels minimizing.

It seems that you don’t write in extremely close POV (even though it’s 1st) but I think you should try to bring readers a bit closer to this moment to make it more dramatic.

For example -

(I wrote this with a male MC in mind)

As I neared his lookout point, a metallic snap and a loud crack, like a branch snapping, echoed through the woods. I slammed onto the ground, knocking the remaining wind from my lungs. Shocked and a bit dazed, my mind processed the sound first. Not a gunshot.

Then the pain registered - intense and radiating up my leg. It passed through my balls for just long enough to help twist my guts. The wave of nausea took hold as I looked toward the source. Not good.

The branch I’d heard wasn’t a branch, but my ankle. It was caught in a bear trap’s vise-like death grip. Now I understood why the phrase existed. It definitely felt like I could die right then and there. Despite the frigid air around me, and the snow heap I laid in, sweat drenched my neck. Spots swam before my eyes, shrinking my field of vision. I unzipped my jacket and mopped my brow. Fighting off the urge to pass out, I sat up as best I could. What now?

My ankle was bloody chopped meat. The distinctive white, jagged edges of bone jutted through the grisly mess. The ground around my mutilated appendage reminded me of a sno-cone. A small, maniacal giggle escaped me at the morbid thought. Not productive.

Luckily the trap didn’t seem too sophisticated, but I didn’t know what removing it would do to my body. Would I lose more blood?

Wanting a tourniquet at hand, I pulled my belt from my waist. Then I took a huge gulp of air, before I pressed my palms to the mechanisms on both sides of the trap. The jaws released with a clang. I gasped at the new sensations that flooded me. Relief and dread alternated in a pattern, syncing with my heartbeat. The throbbing centered in my ankle. The blood pulsed out faster. Now came the really hard part - removing my leg without springing the trap again. Be quick!

I screamed out a guttural, animalistic noise at the sheer agony of movement. My stomach roiled and my vision closed in again. Go on!

Forcing the belt under my leg, jostled my ankle more. I gagged back the bile clawing at the back of my throat, while I tightened the belt as best I could with trembling hands. That’s it.

The deed done, I collapsed back down, panting and shivering. I pulled my jacket close around me again. Hopefully the wound would be less painful as the belt staunched the blood that seemed to feed it. Please, God!


#8

Thank you so much for your feedback! c: I’ll definitely take this into account when rewriting it. :wink:

Also, is there a particular reason why you didn’t feel disturbed? Is it because it wasn’t graphic enough or…? lol

Haha, I agree… I think it was from all the research I had done and I made it too… formal? Would that be the right word to describe it? —in order for the descriptions to sound somewhat accurate and whatnot.

So I’ll work on this to make it sound different.

Noted. :wink:

Also, thank you so much for the example rewrite! Gives me a lot to go on and to think about when I’ll do my own. c:


I’ll rewrite this scene and come back for more feedback. c:


#9

Probably because I felt no connection to the character. But also, yeah, it’s not that graphic. I mean, it’s a good description of how it looks, but it’s not a disturbing description. If they were describing someone else’s injury, I’d buy it, but for their own, it sounds too professional and impersonal to be disturbing, I guess?


#10

@LigerCat @BridgesTunnels @JCRohrer

All right, I wrote a new one! How does this sound?


When I neared the spot he had stood, a metallic snap echoed through the woods. A crack tore through the silence as my leg twisted. I fell forward, knocking the air right out of my lungs. My heart pounded against my chest, trying to break free of my rib-cage.

What happened? Why did I fall?

I tried moving, but instead, an intense pain shot through my leg. While looking down, partially afraid to see the damage, the situation became worse than I had expected.

A bear trap squeezed its metal jaws against my ankle. I should have known it was there all along as he fiddled with something earlier. Why hadn’t I been more careful? It was a small mechanism, so I didn’t care for it. He probably placed it here as a distraction. But the metal that held onto my skin wasn’t the problem as I stared more closely at the injury.

My ankle broke.

The jagged edge of bone ruptured through my skin. Blood cascaded down my foot, staining the snow red.

My mouth opened in awe at the sight of the mutilation. Now, I wondered if I would ever get out of here. Would I ever see Freyja again? How would I get back to the house? Could I be found? Although, I was in the middle of the woods, far away from home. It wasn’t like I could survive out here, laying in the freezing snow with a fractured ankle. It didn’t make sense to stay and wait it out. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I shifted my body to get a better look at the horrid view. At first, you could hardly tell it was a bone that poked out. Blood and muscle tissue smothered around it like meat and BBQ sauce on a plate of ribs.

I wanted to lay here and die. It didn’t matter anymore: Nick was going to get away and there was no way in hell I could leave this exact spot. Moving a fractured bone could make it worse . . . but could it be just as worse if I stayed put? What would happen then?

The questions swirled around in my brain. What was the better way, the right way to go around it? After a moment, I shook my head, now realizing what I must do.

My fingers glided across my leg, but I winced. This is going to be a disaster, I thought. How the hell could I move it now? What was I supposed to do? The oxygen in my lungs became thin; my breaths were harsher as I began to panic.

If I couldn’t touch my leg, how else could I remove the brace? Wait . . . A spark of electricity flashed before my eyes. Wasn’t there a way to release the damn thing? You know, without moving your fucked-up leg or spreading the metal slabs apart?

I half-smiled, now realizing the way to break free. I carefully moved closer to the bear trap. While placing my palms on either side of the contraption where the metal bars were, I pressed down on the springs which opened the jaws of the mechanism. It released my leg from its grasp. A gut-curdling scream escaped my mouth as my eyes watered from the pain. Why had it been so painful? Why couldn’t I live in a future with advanced technology where broken bones could heal in a matter of seconds? Why were we hard-wired to feel physical pain?

Opening it was only the beginning. When the jaws locked back into place, I held my breath. Carefully, I moved my body forward so my leg could escape the bear trap from hell. My previous screaming came back from the non-stop affliction, making it harder to breath with every inhalation. I slowly lowered my leg onto the ground, then my body fell back in the snow while taking deep breaths. Sweat fell from my face and the muscles in my arms ached. What if I couldn’t catch him like I thought I would have?


#11

This is much, much better than the first draft!

I’m going to use the following sentence as an example to show where I think there’s still an awkwardness and work to be done -

“My mouth opened in awe at the sight of the mutilation.”

This is really a “tell” instead of showing, because you needed to add “in awe” to explain the mouth opening.

And when you write first person, your MC can indeed directly “tell” how they feel through internal thoughts. But this sentence tries to mix it with an action and it’s a bit odd in combination. I would rather read a directly telling sentence - “I was in awe at the sight of the mutilation.” or just a showing one “My jaw dropped and my hands hovered over the wound.” (Note “jaw dropped” will show awe more than “mouth opened” adding a detail like the hands hovering also shows there is a reverence at the immensity of injury, a moment of pause at how to approach it.)

Even though you’re writing in first person, I think there are many moments where you’re picturing the scene in your head like a movie with the camera lens outside of your MC. You need to shift your mental camera a bit, so that you are mostly INSIDE the eyes of your MC, and especially for a highly dramatic moment like this.

For example - If you were telling a story about the time you broke your ankle to a friend, you probably would never say “My mouth opened in awe of the ankle.”

You would focus on describing the things you felt physically and emotionally. Instead of trying to describe your facial expressions.

And while in a novel, some of that description is required to fully flesh out a scene, it needs to be mostly based around what they call “blocking” in theatre - the actual positioning of the body - are they sitting down, standing up, etc. (so they understand your MC’s body position in relation to the trap)

So my advice is to go through this really great start of this scene again, while imagining your MC is telling a friend the story about the time his ankle was broken by a bear trap, instead of writing a novel about it.

I bet you’ll find moments where you over-explain and so you can trim things to make it feel more natural.

Like when you say -

“At first, you could hardly tell it was a bone that poked out. Blood and muscle tissue smothered around it like meat and BBQ sauce on a plate of ribs.”

It can be trimmed to -

“At first, you could hardly tell it was a bone that poked out. My ankle reminded me of a plate of meat smothered in BBQ sauce.”

Also be careful of tenses.

“My ankle broke.” should be “My ankle was broken.”


#12

I hope it’s ok to jump in :slight_smile:

I just wanted to add on to the last part of the comment above this, re: “My ankle was broken.” (Because that is indeed the right tense, but I think maybe you changed it to avoid passive voice as suggested near the start of the thread.) You could show this instead of telling, and the next line actually does that already.

If you really want to specify that it’s the ankle, “The jagged edge of bone ruptured through the skin around my ankle….” or something like that, already conveys that the bone is broken. I guess this goes back to showing not telling.


#13

Yay! :partying_face:

Ah! Noted. :wink:

Yeah, I tend to write as if it’s a movie, so that can be a bit of a weakness. I’ll definitely consider this as I’m writing. c:

Okay! :wink:

Haha, yeah… I’m always on the edge of over-explaining and under-explaining. Like, why can’t I just have that balance, you know? xD When I wrote this second draft, I was shocked at how long it was… I thought the first version was long—nope. This is longer. :rofl: It was also 1:30 in the morning, so while I was tempted to go back in again, I decided to quit for the night. And I’m glad for it, too, because it allowed me to begin again and refresh for the day. c:

its_artemis_actually, you are more than welcome to tear apart my work. :wink:

And yeah, I originally had it as “My ankle was broken,” but I guess it should be switched back/rewritten again. c:

True! Plus, now that you pointed that out, I see how it’s redundant and can easily turn things around. c:

Thank you guys for the help! ^-^ I’ll redo this again and come back soon for more advice. c:


#14

@LigerCat @BridgesTunnels @JCRohrer @its_artemis_actually


All righty, let’s try this again? c:

When I neared the spot he had stood, a metallic snap echoed through the woods. A crack tore through the silence as my leg twisted. I fell forward, knocking the air right out of my lungs. My heart pounded against my chest, trying to break free of my rib-cage.

What happened? Why did I fall?

I tried moving, but instead, an intense pain shot through my leg. While looking down, partially afraid to see the damage, the situation became worse than I had expected.

A bear trap squeezed its metal jaws against my ankle. I should have known it was there all along as he fiddled with something earlier. Why hadn’t I been more careful? It was a small mechanism, so I didn’t care for it. He probably placed it here as a distraction. But the metal that held onto my skin wasn’t the problem as I stared more closely at the injury.

The jagged edge of bone ruptured through my skin. Blood cascaded down my foot, staining the snow red.

My jaw dropped at the sight of the mutilation. I hovered my shaking hands over the wound, now wondering if I would ever get out of here. How could I break it with a simple fall? Would I ever see Freyja again? How would I get back to the house? Could I be found? Although, I was in the middle of the woods, far away from home, and it wasn’t like I could survive in the freezing snow with a fractured ankle. It didn’t make sense to stay and wait it out. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I shifted my body to get a better look at the horrid view. My eyebrows furrowed as bile rose into my mouth, the repulsive smell of burning hair whirling its way into my nostrils. Was this what flesh actually smelt like? “Ugh, God,” I said, now peering down at the wound, holding my breath. The damage looked like a plate of ribs, smothered in BBQ sauce. But now that food came to mind, my stomach churned at the thought. How could I be hungry at this time? Though now, I wasn’t, reminding myself when we cut open the deer. The organs, the appalling scent of flesh . . .

Vomit rushed its way to my mouth, but I swallowed the dreadful taste. I’m going to be okay, I thought. Maybe. Okay, no. Not really.

I wanted to lay here and die. It didn’t matter anymore: Nick was going to get away and there was no way in hell I could leave this exact spot. Moving a fractured bone could make it worse . . . but could it be just as worse if I stayed put? What would happen then?

The questions swirled around in my brain. What was the better way, the right way, to go around it? After a moment, I shook my head, now realizing what I must do.

My fingers glided across my leg, but I winced. This is going to be a disaster, I thought. How the hell could I move it now? What was I supposed to do? The oxygen in my lungs became thin; my breaths were harsher as blood coursed through my veins at the speed of light. Every muscle I could move and feel shook as the panic consumed my body.

If I couldn’t touch my leg, how else could I remove the brace? Wait . . . A spark of electricity flashed before my eyes. Wasn’t there a way to release the damn thing? You know, without moving your fucked-up leg or spreading the metal slabs apart?

I half-smiled, now realizing the way to break free. I carefully moved closer to the bear trap. While placing my palms on either side of the contraption where the metal bars were, I pressed down on the springs which opened the jaws of the mechanism. It released my leg from its grasp. A gut-curdling scream escaped my mouth as my eyes watered from the pain. Why had it been so painful? Why couldn’t I live in a future with advanced technology where broken bones could heal in a matter of seconds? Why were we hard-wired to feel physical pain?

Opening it was only the beginning. When the jaws locked back into place, I held my breath. Carefully, I moved my body forward so my leg could escape the bear trap from hell. My previous screaming came back from the non-stop affliction, making it harder to breath with every inhalation. I slowly lowered my leg onto the ground, then my body fell back in the snow while taking deep breaths. Sweat fell from my face and the muscles in my arms ached. What if I couldn’t catch him like I thought I would have?


WRITER'S TEA: Tips, Writing Skills, Recognition, etc. ~
#15

I like this version! :slight_smile: I just saw one small thing (and I’m not even sure of the right answer myself, I struggle with this all the time in my writing).

Is this an internal monologue, or just italic for emphasis? In the italicized thought a few paragraphs up, it was in the present tense.

It might be that this isn’t meant to be the character’s thoughts, in which case it might be fine — I’ve never been able to find a good way to distinguish between the two either!


#16

Thank you! (: And yes, it is his internal dialogue for which I place it in Italics and present tense. :wink:


#18

Kudos!

Overall it’s vastly improved from your first draft.

Gonna PM you a couple more thoughts.