1. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    Character in a coma

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Steve89, Aug 25, 2011.

    One of the characters in the novel I am writing is in a coma, but he can hear and smell everything around him (similar to "locked in syndrome").

    I am telling some parts of the novel from his perspective and I am trying to describe every sound, every smell and every movement around him in extremely close detail in order to emphasise the fact that these are the things he must rely on to know what is happening around him.

    I was wondering how everyone would tackle this in their own prose, or if anybody has read anything where this works really well.
     
  2. Admin
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    Try practicing it on yourself. Close your eyes, walk into a room, and just describe to yourself all of the sounds and smells that you can. Even describe the 'nothing' smell, because that's still a smell. Don't just say 'There is a humming sound'. Describe what the humming sound sounds like, if that makes sense. 'It pulsated at intervals too fast for me to count, but I could hear the humming pulsating, which made me think it was a fan of some sort'. Make your character try to figure out what something is, not just recognize a sound or smell.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    "I know, I know, it's serious."


    I think the approach you are taking in terms of focusing on perceptions the character may have is a good one. If you haven't already done so, you'll probably want to do some research on coma, stages of coma, levels of consciousness, &c in order to get a better idea of the level of awareness and perception that makes sense for your character.
     
  4. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    Yeah that's what I'm trying to do. Like in one scene he listens to footsteps and tries to work out who is walking into the room by how heavy they are, and so how much the person weighs, and the sound of the heel; whether it is a high heel, or a flat shoe and so on.

    It is really interesting to try to write without the obvious source of description which is sight, but it is tough :D

    This was for Admin by the way. I forgot to quote :S
     
  5. Admin
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    Yeah, research is important. Never write about something that you don't know everything about. (At least most things. ;D ) Even if you have to stop writing for a couple of weeks to just read everything there is, it's a good practice.
     
  6. JSLCampbell
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    JSLCampbell Member

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    I've actually read something like this, but it was quite a long time ago so I can't remember the details. It was a book by Michael Morpurgo actually: "Cool!"

    I'm pretty sure that's it. It's written as a children's book, of course (and something I read as a child, which is why I can't remember the prose too well.) It might give you some ideas.
     
  7. jpeter03
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    jpeter03 Member

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    You don't know how many times I stopped myself from replying to this thread with that reference. :)
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Heh. Yeah, I figured there were enough Smiths fans around to catch it :)
     
  9. Yoshiko
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    I'd recommend reading My Name Is Sei Shonagon by Jan Blensdorf. The MC spends the entire novel in a coma (told from the character's POV) and I believe Blensdorf dealt with it brilliantly. :)
     
  10. Steve89
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    I have done some research into comas, but it would be interesting to see if there are any real cases of people having more consciousness than would be expected in a coma. That would give the story some grounding of reality.

    Thanks Yoshika and JSLCampbell, I'll take a look at those and see how they handled the idea.

    Thanks for your thoughts guys.
     

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