1. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    Burns

    Discussion in 'Research' started by k.little90, Sep 15, 2010.

    In my latest story, I want one of my MC's to have burn scars over the majority of his body. I mean, we're talking make baby's scream kind of burns.

    I've looked up several websites online, have clicked on thousands of pictures, but am still having trouble describing the healed burns themselves. The best I've come up with is...

    "It almost looks like he lay in a bed of fire, only burning one side while leaving the other intact. The left side of his head and neck is a mess of healed burns. The skin has healed in grotesque patterns and bubbles, unevenly covering half of his head, face and neck. The left ear has been burned off, only leaving a warped hole for him to hear out of. His left eye is set in a permanent squint because a piece of skin has healed over the corner of the lid. It crinkles and bulges out every time he blinks.

    Brown stubble is the only thing that remains of his eyebrow and the hair that should be growing above his ear. The collar of his shirt and sleeve keep me from seeing how extensive the damage is to the rest of his body, although I suspect that it’s just as bad as his face by the way the burned pattern continues down below the collar. I catch a glimpse of a left hand that’s missing a couple of fingers before he folds his arms self-consciously across his chest."

    Does this sound like an accurate description of a burn victim? If not, does anyone have any advice on how I can improve it? I'm totally stuck :(
     
  2. dreamstate
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    dreamstate Member

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    That sounds pretty good. I work ina hospital and have seen burn victims that are healing. The new skin is often almost "shiny" looking and it's usually very taut, itches like hell as well.
     
  3. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't seen many burn victims, but parts of the burn scar around my wrist stayed a really bright red for a while, and parts of it are also kind of a light brown color, so you could include something about how even the less severe parts of the burn are discolored.
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    The description is fine, but I don't like the repetition of the words 'healed' and 'burned' so many times in the first paragraph.

    Consider this:

    His face is half burned, as if wearing a Halloween mask. The skin on his left face, head and neck was a mess of unevenly covered grotesque patterns and bubbles. What was once his left ear is now just a warped hole. His left eye is in a permanent squint, a piece of skin over the corner of the lid crinkles and bulges out every time he blinks.

    And I agree you should mention the changed color somewhere. Also, you might consider briefly mentioning the intact part of his face so as to provide a contrast.
     
  5. natsuki
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    natsuki Active Member

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    Try to read The Gargoyle. The MC is deformed after a car accident that left his body completely burned. The treatment for those burns are thouroughly explained in several chapters, and it can be sometimes gross, but if you are willing to write about it, maybe it will be a good research material.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The only thing I can add from my small knowledge as a medical interpreter is that should you find yourself wishing to give a percentage of surface burned, percentages are given in whole, round increments of 10 unless the area of the genitals is also involved in the burn. As soon as you see a 5 at the end of the number (25%, 55%, etc.) then you know that the person suffered burns to their genital area as well as other areas of the body.

    EDIT ~ I have a feeling you have mentioned before that you are a nurse, so you probably knew this already. Sorry. :) But I will leave it for anyone else who may have questions on the subject from a writing perspective.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on your character but I think growing up with Simon Weston as an influence in my life I find grotesque etc somehow undignified I would actually make this an occasion of fewer adjectives and just an almost clinical description to give the image but allow the character some dignity. I find Simon Weston still has something that makes him beautiful and maybe find that in your character unless this is a shocked intial reaction of a lover then I it is probably OK you know your context better

    Ugh I know it's not very good but if I was approaching it I would keep the voice almost hushed and passive in it's description.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's a good description, but I haven't seen many burn victims. It seems realistic, though.

    Instead of starting off with "It almost looks like ...", just come out and say "It looks like". Get rid of the "almost". It makes it look like you're trying to weasel out of your description before you even start it. Without the "almost", the description is stronger.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the severity of the burns, the two pivotal factors, as you may already know, are that, in extreme burn cases caused by heat, the skin will actually melt into a pebbly, almost molten appearance. It can bond to itself resulting in eyes being melted closed, fingers being melded together, arms or legs bonded to body parts, chin to sternum, etc. These would, of course, require surgery to try to correct the initial damage, thus creating further scar tissue. fter healing, the skin may fade to pink or be any shade up to a bright red or purple depending upon how deep and/or severe the burn was. The other extreme situation is chemical burning which can cause the skin to react in a quite different manner. The skin will generally heal as deep red to purple with most chemical burning but, again, the extent of the discoloration may depend largely on the type of chemical used and the severity of the burns. It will usually take on an appearance of being stretched too tightly across the flesh (which, in fact, is not too far from the truth of the situation).

    One thing to consider is the compression bandaging used for such extreme burn victims is designed to mitigate the scarring.

    Your description, as coming from an outsider and not the victim or possibly a medical professional, sounds very believable and readily conveys just the impression an interested onlooker might have.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds awesome. I would try to get in more of the five senses in the descriptions.

    How the onlooked guesses it feels to touch and for him to experience for example. "Painfully stretched...", "The patch of scar tissue so naturally smooth that she could imagine that touching it would feel almost oily."

    I dont know if people with load of scar tissue smells any diffrent, but they do add it! More senses for the win!
     

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