Writing about injured characters is challenging for writers of any genre. However, in fantasy or science fiction writing, there are considerations related to the characters’ injuries that should always be kept in mind. Even though this type of fiction requires readers to believe the unbelievable, you still want to strive for a touch of authenticity.
Injure Them Realistically
Injuries that characters sustain should be consistent with what injured them. For example, a description of an injury suffered during a sword fight should not be similar to a gunshot wound. An injury that happens because of a fall should be consistent with the height, such as not having catastrophic fractures occur because of a short fall.
Another important thing to be considered should be what type of protective gear, like armor or a spacesuit, the character was wearing. Keep in mind that protective gear is not perfect (unless it’s magical and supposed to be that way), and characters can still get injured through it. For example, people can still get head injuries even while wearing a helmet.
In fantasy, a character fighting a dragon might receive burns even with protective gear. Science fiction characters who are nonhuman might withstand injuries that would injure humans pretty seriously. The story’s setting always matters.
Use the Right Symptoms
Paying attention to symptoms and appropriate reactions associated with the injury type is important to writing convincingly. Accurate medical sources regarding different injuries can help you present an injury accurately, even in a setting for removed from “real life.”
For example, describing pain bearing weight on an injured leg would be accurate, as well as symptoms similar to gas poisoning resulting from an encounter with toxic potions. Always remember that even the most unbelievable fantasy or science fiction storyline has some inspiration from real life.
Don’t Ignore Pain
Many writers find pain difficult to write about, at the risk of downplaying their characters’ pain. However, unless some plot device in the storyline allows for supernatural pain resistance or magical healing, you will most likely have scenes that involve characters being in pain.
Another consideration in writing about pain is keeping it proportionate to the injury. A person who receives burns from dragon will have more pain than someone who trips mounting a horse. Try to put yourself in your characters’ shoes as much as you can.
Writing about injured characters is a unique challenge for writers. When you are writing about them, you want to make sure that it seems realistic so you don’t alienate the reader. However, by following the above tips, writing about injured characters will become easier over time.
Want more writing tips? Check out this other article on how to write empathetic characters without boring your audience!