Tag Archives: tw violence

What’s the most painful part of the hand to stick a nail/other sharp object? How long would it take to heal if, say, a 1 1/2 inch nail was driven through that part? What would be the permanent results?

Judging from personal experience? I’m going to have to say under the fingernail into the nail bed. If you’ve never experienced someone having to cut away part of a nail because of an infection, consider yourself blessed because holy shit that hurts.

Without seriously mutilating the nail bed in the process it should fully heal within a couple weeks, baring infection or something else, though damage to the nail itself can last for a couple months while the nail slowly pushes the damaged part off the end, like a passive aggressive cat claiming the dining room table.

I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what trigger warnings to put on this, since “tw ohgodwhywouldyoudothat!?” doesn’t seem to be a thing. So, preemptive apologies for the rest of you that didn’t want to think about this.

-Starke

Hello! I am writing about a serial killer in a fantasy setting and he uses a knife/dagger to kill his victims. My question would be, what kind of a knife/dagger would be good for this? His victims don’t have weapons on them and are smaller than him if that makes any difference. Thank you!

Any knife or dagger would be good for this. It doesn’t even have to be a “professional” knife or combat oriented weapon. It can be a kitchen knife, a butcher’s cleaver, a meat hook, a surgeon’s scalpel, anything you want really. If he or she is a savvy serial killer then they’re most likely to use a knife that leaves a minimal amount of forensic evidence. However, unless you’re basing your magic and fantasy setting around a modern 21st century understanding of medicine, detective work, criminal profiling, and forensics, it doesn’t really matter. He’ll use whatever is within the range of he has access to and maybe has special meaning (maybe not), perhaps a knife with an interchangeable handle and one that is easy to clean. It really depends on what type of killer he/she is and since I don’t know the character, the setting, or the type of law enforcement in question it’s really difficult to guess. (I say he because most of the serial killers we know of and profiling circles around are male, but historically there have been several prominent female ones.)

While serial killers have probably existed for as long as humans have, our understanding of their psychology (and even the use of the term “serial killer”) really only dates back to the 1960s-1970s before that they were something of a mystery.

I’d actually step back a moment and look at serial killers. I’m going to pull a passage from Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman dealing with the profiling of “The Vampire Killer” aka Richard Trenton Chase. Ressler, arguably, coined the term “serial killer” in the mid-70s, and is one of the originators of modern serial crimes investigation.

Here, in the original (and not entirely grammatical) notes written at the time is how I profiled the probable perpetrator of this terrible crime:

“White male, aged 25-27 years; thin, undernourished appearance. Residence will be extremely slovenly and unkempt and evidence of the crime will be found at the residence. History of mental illness, and will have been involved in use of drugs. Will be a loner who does not associate with either males or females, and will probably spend a great deal of time in his own home, where he lives alone. Unemployed. Possibly receives some form of disability money. If residing with anyone, it would be his parents; however, this is unlikely. No prior military record; high school or college dropout. Probably suffering from one or more forms of paranoid psychosis.”

Though profiling was still in its infancy we had reviewed enough cases of murder to know that sexual homicide — for that’s the category into which this crime fit, even if there was no evidence of a sex act at the crime scene — is usually perpetrated by males, and is usually a intraracial crime, white against white, or black against black. The greatest number of sexual killers are white males in their twenties and thirties; this simple fact allows us to eliminate whole segments of the population when first trying to determine what sort of person has perpetrated one of these heinous crimes. Since this was a white residential area, I felt even more certain that the slayer was a white male.

Now, I made a guess along a great division line that we in the Behavioral Sciences Unit were beginning to formulate, the distinction between killers who displayed a certain logic in what they had done and whose mental processes were, by ordinary standards, not apparently logical— “organized” versus “disorganized” criminals. Looking at the crime-scene photographs and the police reports, it was apparent to me this was not a crime committed by an “organized” killer who stalked his victims, was methodical in how he went about his crimes, and took care to avoid leaving clues to his own identity.  No, from the appearance of the crime scene, it was obvious to me that we were dealing with a “disorganized killer” , a person who had a full blown or serious mental illness. To become as crazy as the man who ripped up Terry Wallin is not something that happens overnight. It takes eight to ten years to develop the depth of psychosis that would surface in this apparently senseless killing. Paranoid schizophrenia is usually first manifested in the teenage years. Adding ten years to an inception-of-illness age of about fifteen would put the slayer in the mid-twenties age group. I felt that he wouldn’t be much older for two reasons. First, most sexual killers are under the age of thirty-five. Second, if he was older than later twenties, the illness would have been so overwhelming it would already have resulted in a string of bizarre and unsolved homicides. Nothing as wiles as this had been reported nearby, and the absence of other notable homicides was a clue that this was the first killing of this man, that the killer had probably never taken a life before.

Whoever Fights Monsters, Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman, pg 3-4.

Sir Also Appearing In This Book: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”), Charles Manson, Edmund Kemper, Peter Sutcliffe (“The Yorkshire Ripper”), Richard Speck, and Jefferey Dahmer. If you’re planning to write about a serial killer, even a fantasy based one, I recommend reading about what the experts who caught actual serial killers have to say before turning to recent television like Dexter or Hannibal. The book also includes some discussion of the various crime scenes and killing which may provide you with some (admittedly rather gruesome) inspiration.

What kind of killer is your killer? Organized? Disorganized? If we’re discussing someone who routinely uses the same weapons over and over again, I’m going to guess these aren’t crimes of chance. Though whether or not this was the weapon he first began killing with (and holds sentimental value) is probably a question worth thinking about. If it is, then it’s likely a common one that’s valuable to his daily activities.

Is he stable (and capable of holding down a job) or mentally unstable? Why does he kill his victims? In the case of “The Vampire Killer”, he believed the people he was killing were tied to a secret Mafia organization that was poisoning him for his mother. In his trial, he firmly believed this was his chance to out the truth. We know untreated paranoid schizophrenia often results in these sorts of delusions.

Why your killer does and who he targets are going to be much more important than what he performs his killings with. Women? Men? Girls? Boys? Nobles? Merchants? Prostitutes? Religious minorities? Is he punishing his targets for some perceived slight or sin (stalking and killing prostitues because they represent immorality and corruption, coupled with a repressed sexual desire)? Is he trying to save the world? Are his killings just hack jobs or do they have a theme?

It’s all up to you really.

References for Further Reading/Viewing:

Whoever Hunts Monsters by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman. I’ve already said why this should be on your shelf if you’re writing serial killers, but I’ll say it again: FBI expert and discussion of real case files. When it comes to research: Reality > Fiction.

Seven In this famous thriller, Morgan Freeman and a young Brad Pitt star as two cops chasing down a serial killer who performs crimes based on the seven deadly sins. (Yes, Supernatural fans you can finally learn “what’s in the box” though you may wish you didn’t.)

From Hell by Alan Moore. One of Moore’s lesser known (i.e. less popular than Watchman) works surrounds the investigation into the possible identities of Jack the Ripper. Not only is it very good, it’s also very thorough.

-Michi

This isn’t necessarily a fight scene, but at one point a character gets a cigarette shoved in his eye, it is taken out after about a minute but her doesn’t receive any medical care for at least an hour afterwards. I’ve tried looking around online but have been having trouble finding info on such a thing.

At a guess, and this is a guess… the cigarette will burn through the tissue of the eyeball itself. This would probably manifest as a massive fluid discharge, as the eyeball ruptures and collapses.

This will destroy the eye in a matter of seconds. Holding it there for a minute is both overkill and much harder than it sounds.

Medical attention probably isn’t going to be able do anything. Not immediately after the injury; not an hour later. The eyeball itself would be destroyed, that character’s going to be blinded permanently.

-Starke

Fight Write: The Only Unfair Fight is the One You Lose (Part 2: Brutality)

This is the second part of our article “The Only Fair Fight is the One You Lose”, if you haven’t read the first part “The Nietzschean Defense” please do so. This article refers to some of the other more brutal aspects of combat. Again, we believe it’s important for every writer who wants to work with combat to understand it in its entirety. This includes the bloody, uncomfortable aspects of it.

Knowing when, where, and how far to push your character is a key part of writing a combatant. If you don’t know where the upper limits are, how can you write a character who defies them or worse, how can you write a character who goes there? This part of the article is the slightly gentler side of things. You know, if, for any reason, you don’t want your characters psyching out their enemies by becoming a monster in their personal horror movie. Below are are a few more mild options. These focus on ending the fight definitively and quickly before the fight has even gotten started. Again, we’ll be listing this with a trigger warning.

Joint Break

There are two kinds of joint breaks, elbow and knee. Elbow breaks are strictly defensive counterstrikes designed to cripple the attacker’s arm. Knee strikes exist as both defensive and offensive strikes.

Most elbow breaks rely on catching a strike, twisting the attacker’s hand like a normal arm lock, but, instead of applying force against the elbow to subdue the attacker, the martial artist follows with a hard strike to the back of the attacker’s elbow. If properly executed the strike will hyperextend the limb, tearing muscle tissue, and destroying the joint.

Defensive knee breaks work off a similar system; trapping the attacker’s leg during a kick, and delivering a hard strike to the knee.

Knee breaks also exist as a variety of kicks to the leg, designed to force the joint to tear. To break the knee all your character needs to do, is strike it so it bends in any direction except the one it had originally.

As with the attacks in the previous article; joint breaks are viewed as very egregious in the real world. These are injuries that will never properly heal without significant medical attention and surgery.

About 14 years ago, I hyperextended my knee while running. While, this was substantially less destructive than an actual joint break; I was on crutches for about a month, and was still using a cane to get around six months later. Even with physical therapy, this is an injury that’s never fully healed.

Breaking an enemy’s joint will effectively remove them from the fight, as they’ll slip into shock.

The Head Slam

We’ve talked about hair pulling, but this is the real payoff. The character seizes their opponent’s head, either by the hair, across the back of the skull, in the grip described in the eye gouging section, or by grabbing their face. They then start pounding the head into any nearby solid object with as much force as they can muster.

This works best as a preemptive strike. While a large character could grab an enemy mid fight and start slamming their head into things, jumping a character and using the force to repeatedly slam their head into the pavement is just as viable for a smaller character.

Films are somewhat fond of using these attacks, though they often downplay the danger involved. One or two strikes to the head will seriously impair any combatant.

Strikes to the front of the skull are slightly less effective, because of the heavier bone structure in the forehead, but with these attacks, exterior physical damage isn’t the point; inflicting brain damage is.

Head slams have an advantage over normal combat techniques: there’s little to no risk of hand injury from them. There’s also an equally serious disadvantage. Head slams can easily kill the other combatant, and the factors which control this are completely outside your character’s control. Bounce the brain off the skull to hard, or in just the wrong way, and they have a corpse to contend with.

The Groin

Everyone reading this should have some general familiarity with the concept of groin strikes. “Kick ‘em in the nuts, and down they go.”

This actually works on combatants regardless of their gender, though kicking women in the genitals requires slightly more accuracy to be effective since the striking region is much narrower. (Michi Note: I received an accidental knee to the groin during my third degree black belt test and it wasn’t much more than a clip, but it hurt like a…anyway, it’ll knock a girl out of the fight as same as a man.) If you’re wondering why: the clitoris is just as sensitive as the penis and has as many (or more) nerve endings. It’s just smaller, so it’s harder to hit.

-Starke

Fight Write: The Only Unfair Fight Is the One You Lose (Part 1: The Nietzchean Defense)

This is going to be a rough ride for some of you, so we’re listing this with a trigger warning for violence. Fighting is very violent, any aspect of the human condition that deals with survival usually is. I believe it’s important for authors to be aware of the full brutality of combat so they can go in with their eyes open and taper back as they see fit. The only way to ever truly be in control of your story is when you have as much information about the subject matter as possible. This includes delving into some basic aspects of human psychology and how that affects combat. We’ll be breaking this article up into two to focus on two very important but different aspects of brutal combat.

“The only unfair fight is the one you lose.”

The first time I heard this phrase was in a self defense class when I was about twelve or thirteen. At the time, I’d come to fights with the idealistic belief that there was some kind of fair play involved in how to fight someone. There isn’t.

I’ve since heard the phrase from several former military men and a few cops. Here’s what it really means. You do whatever you need to, to survive a fight. In the real world, a lot of these moves have serious legal consequences, if they’re used outside of a life and death situation, and they probably should in your story as well.

The Psychology

The moves I’m going to talk about are both based on a simple psychological assumption. The idea is to look at people the same way you look at any other social animal. Then have your character present the illusion of being more of a monster than they actually are, in order to scare off aggressors.

This works with untrained thugs, bullies, and petty criminals. It will not work as well on characters who have extensive experience with combat and or the aftermath of violence.

The Eyes

Gouging out someone’s eyes is an excellent counter to choking. This is best achieved by gripping the skill with the thumbs next to the eye, and the index and middle finger near the ear, and pushing the character’s thumbs into their eyesockets.

Going for the eyes, before beginning the actual gouge, will usually evoke a very primal response and force a character to stop choking their victim while they try to deal with the gouger’s hands. Gouges can be done from behind, if the victim is being garroted or held, simply by having the victim reach over their head and behind them. Finally a successful gouge will make other combatants leery of closing in on the gouger for fear of joining the Blind Justice crowd.

Tooth and Claw: Biting vs. Scratching

The strongest muscles in your body are located just below your cheekbone. Regardless of if you believe if it was simple efficiency or divine inspiration, your mouth and teeth are designed to separate meat from, well, pretty much anything.

On the bright side, people are made mostly of meat, so, if it comes down to it, taking a chunk out of someone’s shoulder is just a new application of something you practice three times a day.

Forget zombies, the worst bite a human can suffer is from another human. Our mouths are loaded with bacteria that we’re used to, but other people… not so much. Even if your character doesn’t take a piece off, the injury will need actual medical attention, and explaining away a bite wound to a medical professional or a cop can be very difficult.

Additionally, depending on how you bite, your molars can apply enough force to crush some smaller bones; completely, and permanently, crippling their hand.

After biting off a chunk, your character’s going to want to spit it out, along with as much of the blood as possible. There are a lot of potential pathogens that can be spread from blood or tissue contact (off hand; some flavors of Hepatitis and of course HIV/AIDS are the two most dangerous possibilities) , so, your character is taking on a fairly serious health risk from chowing down. As with the eye gouge, this is going to make other attackers back off; with the logic of, “if she just bit off his fucking ear, what’s she going to do to me!?”

There’s also a pretty serious psychological block about going toe to toe with someone who’s covered in someone else’s blood. This is just as true of people attacking your character.

In contrast, scratching, and this is personal experience, just doesn’t seem to be that viable. You do some surface damage to the tissue, and you do get some skin samples, but it’s far more socially acceptable, and far less dangerous. It won’t have the psychological effect you want and can actually spur more aggression.

-Starke