1. Gammer
    Offline

    Gammer Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    4

    Describing Pain

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gammer, Jul 31, 2010.

    In my WIP the MC gets socked, slashed, stabbed, electrified, frozen, bitten, etc... (its high fantasy BTW), but I can never find the words to properly describe it. When I read over the paragraph, I just don't really feel it (if that makes any sense)

    Maybe I'm just being overcritical but to me without a proper description of the pain during the fight, the entire fight just seems lacking.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Even with more pleasurable sensations, if there are constant scenes of a particular sensory nature, it becomes really difficult to vary the descriptions.

    For example, being slashed, stabbed, or bitten would probably affect similar nerve endings, maybe inflict a wound that was similar. The main thing that would be different is the attacker. If I were you, I'd remember this and focus more on who is producing the sensations (and why) and less on the actual pain itself.

    If you have ever been in a car accident or attack, you may remember that at the time you felt very little or even no pain at all--this is the body's natural defence mechanism (my husband called me on his cellphone while he was being cut out of a car wreck. He nearly lost both his legs, but he wasn't in any pain until about four hours later). So focusing on the pain reponse is not necessarily very realistic, as well as running the risk of becoming monotonous for the reader.

    Personally, I think you should ask yourself why you want to describe and dwell extensively on scenes of such a nature. You give the impression that you find pain exciting, although you have not really suffered much at first hand, or seen someone you love in great physical agony. Please excuse me if I've got the wrong idea.
     
  3. Chudz
    Offline

    Chudz Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Suburb outside of Chicago
    Well, I have been "socked" in the face before. It left me with a brief sensation of pain, before going into numbness. (Not to mention rage.)

    I've also had a chunk gouged out of my forearm; not due to violence, but due to me being uncoordinated. Surprisingly enough, I hardly felt it. In fact, the stitches worried me more than the injury.

    And thankfully, I've never been stabbed, but I have been slashed in the belly. It burned, pain-wise, even though it wasn't that deep.

    Take 'em how you will, these are Just my experiences. YMMV.
     
  4. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    LuleƄ, Sweden
    One trick is to describe the reaction to the pain. People grasping for air, biting their jaws and growing pale, sobbing and veiling, etc is easier to picture.
     
  5. jwilder
    Offline

    jwilder Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Tennessee, USA
    As silly as this may sound, read the "Star Wars" continuation books by Timothy Zahn. There are some excellent fight scenes that can give you some ideas how to write pain descriptors. Plus, the books themselves are exceptionally well-written. I enjoyed them as much for the style and composition as for the plots and characters.
     
  6. goeswithgod
    Offline

    goeswithgod Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2010
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Windsor, UK
    Whatever you do, don't use the word 'searing', you might as well stamp CLICHE on your copy. Maybe you could focus on the effect of the pain rather than the pain itself - eg, character-in-question could feel a pain so severe that it makes him want to throw up...but, you know, better than that.
     
  7. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    This is very good advice. I know a lot about pain through personal experience. I had a 12 in incision on my back. Long story. It's not really the same though because even though I was cut I was out for it and given pain medications. It was excruciating even then. I can't possibly imagine how pain could get any worse than that without killing someone. I nearly passed out once. I don't faint. I just don't.

    There's a big emotional aspect that goes with pain that is often over looked. Fear is a major emotion that comes with physical trauma. Ever watch a real life ER show? Those people are usually passed out, in shock, moaning, screaming, or crying. Pain is scary as well as painful. There's a bizarre emotional connection to your body. When something on it is severely injured it terrifies you.
     

Share This Page