Ow! That hurt!

I like to give my opinion and I like to share what I’ve learned. This time it isn’t necessarily about writing or style per say, it’s more of an individual observation on behavior. I try to envision what I’m writing about as I write and keep the scenario firm in my mind. The reason for this is believability. If it doesn’t look right in my mind, how can I expect it to play out in someone else’s?

Since there is action, violence and clumsiness in my stories, there is pain. It is a sensory response tightly tied to emotions and therefore is often an internalized experience and generally written the same way. But, what if I don’t want the POV inside my characters head? I look at others in pain. Yes I know that sounds weird, but its true. How do real people respond to pain? In the movies, the pain threshold is amped up a few notches for the Hollywood experience. So when someone is riddled with bullets and still carries on, that might not be realistic, but it’s fun to watch. But, is it fun to read? Maybe. It depends on how well it’s written.

Like with everything defining, I put my characters pain threshold in their bio. Some people are naturally tolerant to pain. Some take a bit to catch their breath and wits to continue on, while others will shut down until the pain ebbs enough to function again.  In addition, like with many other things, pain tolerance can be learned or they can develop a tolerance for it over time.

Aside from the obvious screaming, grunting, cries, profanities and “Ow! That hurt!” what else can we do to show pain? What are the physical indicators?

Grabbing the injured area swiftly
Sucking breath through teeth sharply
Pursing lips and moaning
Crying and tears
Sobbing
Wailing
Rubbing the affected area rapidly
Staring at the injury wide-eyed (Especially if blood is involved. I’ll talk about blood another time.)
Fainting
Falling to the ground(In various ways, also dependant on type and placement of injury)
Gasping for air (If wind is knocked out)
Blood, swelling or bruising
Broken bones (Best used if it’s an obvious or super disgusting break)
Stunned, Dazed or confused
Rapid breathing
Shaking hands

The people that shake it off would do just that. Shake a limb or even jump on the spot a time or two then move on.

Sasha admired the large bruise on her hip from being knocked to the ground earlier. She poked at it with her finger, sucked her breath in sharply and winced.

Cal ran over to the car. The woman in the driver’s seat was conscious, her right hand on her forehead and her left on her chest where the seatbelt dug in. He assessed her quickly asking her the standard questions as she gulped air and struggled to answer.

Anne walked with a slight smile to her lips, the sun warm on her face and a cool breeze brushing by. Her foot strayed too close to the sidewalk edge, her ankle gave way and she fell sideways to the ground. Landing hard on the grass, she cried out pressing her hands on her ankle.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow.” She blinked the tears from her eyes.
“Are you okay?” A tall man squatted beside her.
“No.” She swatted his hand away. “Don’t touch me it hurts!”
“Let me see, I can help I’m a nurse.” His soothing voice made her look up into his steel blue eyes. Reluctantly she gave him access.
“I’m Tony.” His gentle fingers pressed and ran across her skin.
“Ow! Anne.” She yelped and pulled her foot away when he pressed too hard.
“It’s not broken. Here.” He held his hands out. “Let me help you up Anne.”

The boy fell to the concrete with a dull thud. Sasha gasped along with a few others. He laid still as his mother knelt. He rolled over and sat up dazed and unsure why everyone was staring. He raised his hands seeing the scraped cut palms and red starting to surface near the tiny embedded pebbles and started wailing in earnest.

Sasha opened the new clients file, reached for the top page, it requesting a vegetal ‘feel’ for the advertisement and drew her hand to her mouth instantly. Sucking her finger, she scowled at the offensive page. She looked at the razor thin trench filling with blood as she pulled air through her teeth hissing at the wound.

These were tame everyday examples of immediate responses to pain. Obviously, there are other types such as acute from gunshot, stabbing, and broken bones.  Long-term pain can affect a person’s personality and even change them over time such as arthritis, improperly healed bones, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Shingles, Fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines. These are just a few, adding this type of dynamic to a character can be beneficial to the cause as much as the character. If it’s not something close to you, do your research and talk to someone living with or near someone with chronic pain. Other types of reoccurring pain that can vary in intensity are menstrual cramps, labor and birthing, surgery, earaches and toothaches.

My advice about pain.
You can pretty much do anything you want to your characters and have them react in any way you want them to. From interesting, to predictable, to way out of left field. As long as you work it into the story in the same voicing you’ve been using all along it will add the ick factor or cringe moment that will make the reader want to know what happens next.

-Sheryl

Other sensory posts

Getting a little touchy feely

Did you smell that?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Vegetal
Heal

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Phony-baloney disguised

Just like two faced people the fakers, liars and the pretenders can also wear disguises. The people also move through life insincere and artificial. Today I’m talking about the kind that put on a disguise to fit in and cover the genuine person they are and deny.

The hiders who wear clothes they hate or act contrary to their personality are often desperate or damaged. They can become very dangerous very quickly if provoked or nudged appropriately and like Two-faced people, the disguised can become nemesis or enemies, villains even if they aren’t already.

Wearing the cloak of deception can be exhausting. This behavior can be as innocent as wanting to fit in, to a deep seeded need to hide their true nature. The quiet nice guy who kept to himself, was never a suspect for Serial killing until he’s caught. The reasons for pretending to be someone your not is vast.

Base reasons for pretending

Shame
Desire
Greed
Fear
Broken Psyche

Examples of why people might pretend to be someone they’re not

Abused as a child or adult
Embarrassed about their interests
Want to fit in to a new group
Want a promotion or new job
Have a bad habit that is illegal or borderline illegal
Ashamed of sexual inclination
Afraid of rejection
Desire for revenge
Double agents
Being forced to be someone they’re not
Anyone with a secret

Often people who are pretending are just trying to get through the day. Pretending to be happy serving coffee to the ass-hat that claims it was made wrong three times just for laughs. While others pretend to be dumb so their friends don’t pick on them. So what happens when the façade starts to crumble or peel away?

Sasha closed her office door and looked at the paper name plaque in her hand. It had been taped over her name on the door. “Ice Queen”.
The walk through the open office area was eerily like a walk of shame. She turned on her monitor and clenched her fists.
“Okay.” She thought a moment how to approach this. It hurt her feelings and sparked her fury. The image of a crown made of ice with tiny icicles was her new wallpaper.  If she went to the uppers it would look pathetic and would only get worse. She would talk to Scott and choose the high road. She always did.
“Oh how I’d love a little payback.” What she was most worried about was anyone at the office finding out the truth behind her standoffish behavior when it came to men. She jumped at the knock at the door.
“It’s open.” She called and stared at the screen.
“Hey can we talk?” Scott closed the door behind him.
“I think you’ve done enough of that already don’t you?” So much for the high road.
“I didn’t tell anyone that you bailed on me.” Scott sighed and rubbed his eyes with one hand. “Look Sasha I like you, I want to…” He threw his head back and then looked at her. “You’re smart, talented and beautiful you can’t blame me for trying. I’m going to warn you, I don’t give up easily.”
Everything Scott said was with purpose. The order of those complements was not a slip.
“Maybe you should save yourself the trouble. I’m not going to date you or sleep with you Scott.” She pointed at the crumpled ice queen paper in her recycle bin. “I’m not feeding that gossip beast.”
“I don’t get it, you’re all confident and distant, then you’re shy and sexy then bam.” He hit the desktop with his hand making her jump. “back to distant.”
“Don’t you mean frigid or cold?” She crossed her arms.
The urge to run home and cry was almost winning.
“Your acting strange lately Sasha.”
The truth was she was having trouble maintaining her aloofness, her casual-self at the office.  Then to make it worse Baylor threw her for a loop and she wasn’t hiding as well as she normally did.
She looked at Scott. He was attractive but he was acting strange too. Or was he? She tilted her head.  Was she not seeing others clearly through her own disguise?
“Sorry Scott it’s not going to happen. If you need help with any other projects we can work on them here. Now if you’ll excuse me.” She opened her desk drawer. “The ice queen has work to do.” The last words came out quietly. The drawer was lined with plastic and filled with ice.
Scott stood to leave. “But Sasha I think-”
She slammed the drawer shut. “Get out of my office Scott.”
“Lunch. I’ll take you to lunch. We can talk then.” He slipped out before she could say no in person.
She glared at the door. “Didn’t tell anyone my royal ice queen ass.” She closed her eyes and the vision of Cal punching Baylor came to mind calming her temper.

Two pretenders with different agendas. One is two-faced, with a personal investment and the other wearing a failing disguise. Sasha’s carefully crafted persona is falling apart. How long until she realizes the costume doesn’t fit well and it’s making her miserable?

Not all fakers are bad, not all of them are good. Most fall somewhere in-between. I’m giving Sasha a hard time because it’s part of her journey. She has to fall before she can get up and dust of the fake present and her shadowed past.

My advice about phony baloney disguises.
Paint that false smile for the spotlight and let it fall behind the curtain. Show the truth in people by the lies they present daily. Tiny or huge, take a chance and let a character develop a veil or tear it off.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Covered up with paint and lies.

Doubt clouds out creativity

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Tiny