How do you guys treat and write about bodily damage in your stories? (This may get a little graphic just warning)

This is gonna be a weird question, but how do you guys write about bodily damage in your stories, and how do your treat it in terms of how it affects the character?

I usually write horror, so it doesn’t take long for violence to ensue. When I describe someone or something getting shot, stabbed, beaten, or maimed in some other fashion, I’ll usually show the reader a peek of what is happening to the physical body. For example, if someone is shot, I say how the bullet is ripping through their skin, tearing muscle, puncturing organs, severing nerves and blood vessels and so on.

When it comes to how it affects the character, if they have incredible will power much beyond that of normal humans, even if they have been shot half a dozen times or mortally wounded in some other fashion, they can get back up on their feet, not for long, but a little longer than most people.

When it comes to writing supernatural monsters, they can take 100x that of which a person can take, if they still have a bit of blood and brain in them, and their body is still somewhat intact they can keep going.

How do you guys detail bodily damage?

I write fantasy so I generally stay away from overly gory description, but I also don’t shy away. If someone has been stabbed, I’ll describe the pattern of blood spread and the away it effects the character (like clammy skin, uneven breaths etc), but without over the top details. As for long term effects, my characters aren’t human so they heal a little quicker than average, but a concussion is a concussion ya know (for example, I had a character lose a fight because they were injured from a previous fight and they just weren’t in good enough shape to win.) I think it adds realism to have consequences for that sort of stuff.

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I write about the same. I write a few details but have mine marked as mature so realistically, I could go harder if I wanted to. I also make sure that the character is injured because I find that a lot get shot, but somehow the injury is forgotten about or doesn’t impact them at all. That’s not realistic and is a hole.

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I write Sci-Fi (rated mature). I try to get twisted honestly. I try to make it so the reader could really imagine it and maybe get kind of squirmy even, if possible. I try to go into my characters thoughts and feelings so it really hits too.

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I don’t shy away from gory descriptions. I want my readers to feel like they’re experiencing what my characters are experiencing.

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I write mostly YA fantasy, so I don’t go too in depth on gore. I tend to go a bit metaphorical when describing the pain and the extent of the injury (molten steel piercing my organs…nerves became shrapnel…heard the crack of bone before I felt it — that sort of thing.)

If I was writing horror or a crime mystery / thriller, I’d probably focus a lot more on the visual, especially if I was writing from the POV of someone fascinated by the details (e.g. the investigator or the killer).

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I write fantasy, and I go pretty dark sometimes with the details. Like what was stated by:

Also, not just the physical, but the mental and the deep psyche.

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I like to think tangentially. Don’t forget the other senses. What does the violence smell like, sound like, taste like? What happens to the rest of the body aside from where the damage is inflicted? There’s the contact and then there’s the secondary detail. Things like that.

Okay, I get the whole smell and sound thing.

But taste? You’re gonna have to give me an example.

What does blood taste like? What does sweat taste like? What does the floor taste like as your face is driven into it? What does failure taste like?

If you’d like to discuss, feel free to PM me, I write very stark violence in my stories, implying it and stating it our right. I’d be glad to help.

@ASCharleston

I love gore. I’m just going to say it. In one of my stories, these people basically trespass into a sacred forest in order to make a selfish trade off to ensure their own futures over the sake of the world. Because of their greed, they are punished by the guardian of the forest, which takes the form of a rabid elk (for vengeance symbolism).

The rabid elk traps one of the men and feasts upon his corps. The details of this scene are horrifyingly gory, but not too detailed (as not to give a sensory overload) but to describe an omnivore finding the sheer will and desperation to feast on a living person is disturbing enough. But knowing that this is inherently unnatural is brutalizing for me to write about.

I also write a lot of fantasy, but rarely shy away from getting into the nitty gritty details of murder/injury, unless I dub it inappropriate to overly describe. You don’t always want to show too much of the scene. Instead, focusing on the smaller details can make more of an impact.

For example: I read once that when describing war, you don’t focus so much on the battle itself. We know it’s horrifying. But if you focus your writing onto a small child-sized sock in the middle of a fire-lit village as people run and scream around it, this can often make more of an impact.

Also take Mulan for example. When the soldiers go to defend the other troops during her first mission, they stumble across a ruined village. Both because this is a movie for children, and to increase the impact, we only see the skeletal remains of what we can assume was once houses. But we see no sign of death… until Mulan stumbles upon the little girls doll.

Now, even without the context of a previous scene with the doll, the audience can easily deduce that a lone doll + fire ruined village = dead little girl.

This creates a massive impact, even before we found out all of the troops, including Shang’s father have died.

This is actually pretty good advice. As a lot of the time what we smell is also what we’re tasting. Plus, if you’re writing about, let’s say, an actual field battle then a lot of things are going to be happening.

The changing of swords

Sounds of dying men

The feel of blood spraying your face

The taste of your own sweat

Smoke burning your eyes and your mouth/nose (if you ever stand by a campfire and accidentally inhale the smoke you can taste it, for example).

Also, battlefields are putrid. A lot of people stray away from this fact, or simply don’t know it, but when you die your bowls release all the contents. So, essentially, when fighting on a battlefield there’s going to be a lot of human fluids filling the battle field and not all of it’s going to be blood and sweat, if you catch my meaning. It smells putrid; and I’m sure it tastes putrid, too.

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If it serves the story I include it. If it doesn’t I don’t.

As a horror writer who loves the dwindling group trope, I never shy away from the gory details. When I kill off a character via monster, murder, accident etc I describe their death. I try to strike that nice middle ground where the reader knows exactly what’s happening and can vividly picture the scene in their head.

I’m not afraid to write blood and gore, in fact it’s rare for my stories not to have it. I develop my characters and make them likable (unless they’re a villain you’re supposed to hate) that way it packs more of a punch when they die horribly. You’ll be reading my story and exclaim, “No, not August! He was my favorite! I can’t believe you killed him like that!” :sob:

I love gore, but it has a purpose in my works. There comes a point when it becomes too much even for me. For example, I’ll gladly write about adults getting ripped to pieces by a monster or stalked by a killer, but I just don’t have it in me to brutally kill a child in my works. If I was going to kill a kid, I’d leave it off screen and just imply what happened.

I write in third person limited. Therefore I write what my main character experiences. If the main character is the one getting injured and feels the pain before they see the injury, then I start with the pain and only bring visuals into it when they have a look at the injury. How much I describe the injury depends on how much attention the character pays to the sight. If they stare at it in horror, I may give more detail than if they need to react quickly to the next danger and don’t have time to inspect their injury.

If it is another character getting injured, I’m more likely to start with visuals. However, if my POV character first notices them falling down or screaming or whatever, that comes first. If it is someone the POV character cares about the focus may also be on the POV character’s emotions.

I find it important that characters react in a semi-realistic way to injury. The pain and the physical damage should impair them. I don’t like it if someone would clearly be dead and they run around like nothing happened - provided that there’s no reason why they can, magic or being a zombie or otherwise. If a story always mutilates its characters but they’re not affected, it lessens the impact of scenes that put characters in danger. You take away your own ability to heighten the stakes and build suspense.
That said, semi-realistic is what most well written stories with a lot of action and danger are. In most characters are less affected and heal quicker than they would in real life and it’s generally accepted to do that because full realism may slow your plot down a lot or not allow you very often to let anyone get injured at all.

In my current story the impact of injuries is lessened, because characters have healing-magic. On the one hand it allows my characters to survive more action scenes that are highly dangerous, but it really does lessen their impact. I might go for a kind of magic that does not lessen the seriousness of getting injured next time.

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