Tag Archives: injuries

What kind of injuries would a soldier have to sustain to end up permanently blinded? Would, say, them being near an explosion work/be plausible?

Yes. Anything that damages the eye has a potential to result in permanent blindness, this includes shrapnel from a blast. Eyes can also be burned with intense heat, damaged via chemical exposure.

Now… your character’s probably going to have some scaring on their face in addition to being blind, but it is quite possible.

-Starke

perspi-looks said: Not to mention anything that causes a hit to the head, which means your brain can knock against your skull. Damage to the visual centers or optical nerves could happen that way, which may leave your character blind without much facial scarring.

Perpsi’s right, and I need coffee. Thank you for catching that.

If a 16-year-old girl was shot in the arm, is there any way she could fight afterward? She doesn’t have to fight on her feet, she merely needs to knock someone out.

It’s going to depend on where she was shot in the arm, if she’s used to dealing with shock, and if any arteries were nicked. If we’re talking about your average middle class sixteen year old (male or female) who has never been around guns and never been in any physical danger then it’s unlikely. If we’re talking about a sixteen year old who grew up around guns and in situations where physical violence was a part of their general experience growing up, then it’s possible.

There are still some problems, however.

1) The person who shot her probably still has the gun and they’ve already proven that they’re willing to kill her. (They proved that the moment they drew the gun, firing it was just extra incentive.)

2) How is she going to knock them out? When someone gets shot while standing, the shock of it of it tends to make them automatically sink to the floor. Curling up into a ball, clutching the arm, and tucking in the knees, is a natural safety response that the body practices when it’s injured. If she’s not trained to fight that response, she probably won’t. So, the person who shot her is still standing and she’s now sitting. If she’s going to knock them out, then she’ll need some kind of ranged weapon that she can use while on the floor. This is preferably one that she brought with her or that got knocked away in the earlier scuffle. Something like a taser would be a good idea. The character, however, has to be willing to risk death (has to believe the person who shot them wants to kill them) and that there’s no way out except to fight back. This is not most people, especially not those who have grown up in a privileged environment.

3) Fighting makes the body bleed out faster. No matter where she was shot, she’s still bleeding. Shock, fear, and then combat all elevate your heart rate and the blood starts pumping through the body faster. If there is a hole in the body, then it causes the injured person to bleed out faster. This is why you’re supposed to sit down and breathe slowly until help arrives. Your character’s body has a limited amount of blood and the moment she got shot, the clock started ticking. She may not realize it, but if she gets up and fights, she’ll only be losing blood faster. She’s going to be at odds with her body’s own instinct to survive if she’s going to go after the person who shot her, because at this point fight or flight is dead.

The most important question here?

Is your sixteen year old willing to die to knock out (or kill) the person who harmed her?

If the answer is yes, then yes, she can fight back. If it’s no, then she probably can’t.

-Michi

what would be the best way to describe being beaten? not exactly torture, but during the fight, and getting hit without just saying a punch to the stomach, and what would be the best reaction of that? i know some, like to your stomach can knock the breath out of you, but among other things?

How a character reacts to a hit to the stomach will depend on whether or not they had the presence of mind to tighten their abdominal muscles before the impact occurs. This is where the concept of the breath being knocked out of the body comes from, it’s a natural reaction to being hit. If you exhale all the air from your lungs, you’ll notice that your abdominal muscles automatically tighen and the body, particularly the shoulders, curl inwards pulling back. This is the concept behind the kihap, or the loud shout, that occurs in most martial arts when hitting the target. The kihap forces all the air from the lungs, making the muscles of the attackers body tighten at the key moments before impact with their victims body. The problem, of course, with the reaction is that it won’t really help to mitigate the effects of punch to the stomach if the exhalation occurs after the punch is thrown.

As with almost everything to do with combat, timing is key.

Basically, the character is going to feel like they want to throw up. They may actually throw up. A hit to the stomach will force it back into an unnatural position, one that is very uncomfortable. Dizziness, dropping the head as the body comes forward to protect the stomach, arms automatically moving to protect (i.e. wrap their arms around) the injured area. You can also expect a sudden flood of adrenaline if the victim is taken by surprise and sometimes even if they’re not as the body kicks over into fight or flight mode.

So, there could be a sudden increase in heart rate, a loss of fine motor control, a bitter taste in the mouth, etc. And of course, because all the air has suddenly left the body, they’ll be attempting to suck it down like there’s no tomorrow. The effects will be more immediate if the attack is unexpected, so: shock, surprise, anger, fear, panic, all these mental reactions can be used to stun lock the mind and leave the victim incapable of fighting back. If the person in question is unused to experiencing that kind of pain, the effects will be greater and the recovery much more slow. The more used to this particular variety of pain they are, the more hardened they will be to it.

Don’t think of it as an immunity, but rather something more easily ignored. It’s similar in concept to the idea of working out. In the beginning, your muscles are screaming and you feel like you’re going to die. But, as time passes and you keep working at it, it gets easier and the pain of your muscles doing things they don’t want to do becomes more familiar and more easily ignored. Taking a hit is relatively similar, though much more immediate and difficult to overcome.

When getting hit in the face, such as the nose, expect rapid swelling and possibly blood. So, a warm, wet feeling on the face, a taste of copper in the mouth, a sharp stinging pain right between the eyes, it will interfere with vision. Tasting your own blood is a rather surreal experience. People, for the most part, do not react well to it. The head snaps back and will again, drop forward right into the next hit if the victim isn’t careful. Any hit to the face (or really at all) invites the possibility of biting the tongue, especially if the victim isn’t wearing a mouth guard. If that happens, there will be more blood in the mouth, pain, panic, and gagging. For a hit below the eye expect rapid swelling, stinging pain, and loss of vision. There will be visible bruises that will last for, oh, a good week or more afterward.

Bruises are common in all parts of the body when they get hit and they last a long time. If your character fights constantly, they will show that wear and tear in all it’s glory on their body. It can last for a month, depending on how deep the bruises go. When I was training it wasn’t uncommon for me to find small welts all over my body, so much so that when I see a bruise now I just shrug it off.

During my third degree test, I took a roundhouse to my forearm and it became one, big mass of a bruise. I had a matched set for about two weeks, because I’d used the other arm for brick breaking.

The hand of the attacker will also bruise and possibly cut the skin, both on the victim’s body and the attacker’s knuckles. It’s worth remembering that a proper punch is necessary to keep the hand from breaking many of the small bones on impact. But hitting someone else is going to sting. Attacking better protected places on the body, like the rib cage, or the face, will be more obvious as opposed to hitting in the soft places like the throat or the stomach, still the hands will show signs of being in a fight regardless.

This is why the concept of “I don’t want to hurt anyone” is a nice sentiment, but complete bull. Want has nothing to do with it. Combat is a choice. If you fight or fight back, you’re going to hurt someone even if that person is just yourself. The question is not really “do I hurt them at all” but how far do you go and can you live with the consequences.

In specific instances, there’s the possibility of friction burns from the clothes rubbing against the body.

And of course, the most important and long lasting effect on the mind: shame. Also, guilt.

There’s more to it, but at that point it’s a good idea to start looking through medical and forensics textbooks on the subject. This is a little morbid, but in order to generate the right kind of feeling, you may want to stop and look at images of people who have been battered. Hollywood is very clean and combat is ugly. If you want to know how to describe something, you need to know what it actually looks like and decide whether or not it’s something you want to bring into your story.

-Michi

(Edit: I should also point out that there is no “best” way to do anything, just the best that you’re capable of while working with the scene and how the themes there fit within the overall narrative. Violence is an excellent way to evoke emotion, but readers do have a threshold. How realistic you are is going to depend a lot on what you want them to be seeing and feeling when they read that scene. A sequence that is too vicious and too raw without properly being set up by the narrative runs the risk of knocking the reader out of the moment. This isn’t me saying don’t do it, just make sure you’re balancing realism with the needs of your story. A brutal beating is a key moment for a character, but it shouldn’t happen on the page more than once in a book that’s not dealing with abuse and brutal beatings (and even sometimes when it is). Work with what you’re capable of writing and marry that to what your comfortable with, after you’ve assessed what those limits are, feel free to push away at them as needed.

In the end, you’re the only one who can really figure out what your story needs to function.)

I have a question: if a person were to be stabbed with a small knife, say, a pocket knife, where on the body would the stabbing do the least damage? For the purposes of my scene, the character would likely be stabbed near the hip or possibly the shoulder area. I just need to gauge whether or not I’d have to change the fight to fit the plot (the stabbed character wins the fight and is able to carry on their journey – perhaps I need to change the stab to a cut?)

Honestly, if I wanted to stab a character and not incapacitate them? My first thought would actually be the hand. It would restrict their use of it for a while, but it could be quickly bandaged, and it’s probably the “best" place to get stabbed.

Thing is, most places, stab wounds are non-trivial. There’s some places you can get stabbed, like the shoulder blade, where the blade will hit bone before it does anything really nasty.

But, as a guideline; three inches of penetration, nearly anywhere on the body, is a life threatening wound. That deep and the odds are unpleasantly good that you’ll hit an internal organ or an artery.

Depending on the size of the knife that’s either possible or not. But, yeah, I’d say go with the hand. It’s a nice visual injury, and if you want, it can easily become a permanent wound for your character to carry with them. It’s easy to get the hand in the path of the knife without much work. And, it’s one of the few stab wounds you can really walk away from.

-Starke

Realistically, say a character was knocked unconscious for around ten seconds or so, would they be able to get up and get back to whatever they were doing (like: running, fighting, etc.) and also what would they be feeling when they woke up? Basically if my character is knocked out and wakes up, can my other characters pull him along until they’re out of harms way or would he be too fucked up to move?

I’d go with too fucked up to move. Remember, getting knocked out, even for a few seconds, is still a very serious concussion, and by extension a life threatening injury.

Off the top of my head, the symptoms should be: nausea, vertigo, (I think) blurred vision, and difficulty tracking (so, carrying on a conversation is also out).

This is actually what that “how many fingers am I holding up?” cliche is based on, it’s one way to judge if someone’s suffered a concussion, another is looking at pupil dilatation (by shining a light in their eye).

It’s also worth pointing out, because concussions are cumulative over time, these symptoms will actually get worse, and characters can’t learn to power through them. If your character’s getting clocked over the head repeatedly, they’ll end up dying from a blow to the head fairly quickly.

As a quick aside, there isn’t a safe way to render someone unconscious. I’ve been assuming a blow to the head, but tranquilizers require very specific doses (which vary based on weight and metabolism), and if you misjudge it even slightly, you can end up having no real effect, or outright killing the character you’re trying to tranq.

-Starke

kickassfanfic said: You say ‘cumulative over time’ – is that indefinitely? Like if you haven’t been concussed in, say, two years, or TEN years, I dunno, and you get whonked upside the head again, is it just as bad as if your first whonk was the day before?

Not completely. Here’s the thing, when you suffer a concussion, what happens is your brain gets bounced off the inside of your skull. This results in bruising on the brain itself.

Someone who’s suffered a concussion is at substantially greater risk of suffering another, and any concussion they suffer will be more dangerous to them. This diminishes over time, but it never goes away fully. In other words, no, your brain never fully heals.

I’m sorry, I am oversimplifying things here. This is a really complex topic, and I’m not a doctor; but, from a writing standpoint? Yes. If your character is getting knocked unconscious, it will always be worse than the last time, regardless of if it was yesterday, or twenty years ago. If your character is getting clocked on the back of the head more than once or twice, they’re going to die.

-Starke