1. amble
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    amble Member

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    Describing someone burning to death

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by amble, Jun 10, 2009.

    I haven't got much experience of watching people burn while still alive, and post event pictures are just ash. Is there anywhere that can describe what people burning to death actually looks like? I'm going for authenticity rater than guesswork, it's only going to be a parapgraph but I'd really like to get it right.

    Do body fats leak out, does skin peel instantly? There is no flammable liquid or firestarter on the person, just trapped in a small room that happens to be on fire.

    Ta

    Mods, could you fix the missing letter in the title please?
    Thanks
     
  2. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I'm immediately going to question the criminal history of the first person to answer this question thoroughly. :rolleyes:

    Honestly, I know that the clothes burn and peel off and there definitely can be heavy bleeding. Not sure about fat leakage. Blech.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fixed, but YOU could have fixed it yourself in Advanced Edit mode.

    Try google searches using keywords like forensics or pathology with burns or immolation. I'm sure you will find plenty of gruesome details to satisfy even the most ghoulish snuff enthusiast.
     
  4. amble
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    amble Member

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    Sorry, wasn't aware of that. I did try the edit button at the bottom of my post though :redface:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I was googling things like the Auschwitz ovens but drew a blank. I'll try the forensic and pathology reports now.
     
  5. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Erm.. I'm going to take a guess and say the skin peels too because I had a second-degree burn when I was in a car accident a couple years ago and was definitely missing two or three layers of skin. I don't know for sure, 100 percent, so I'd also suggest looking it up through forensics...

    ~Lynn
     
  6. MrJoey
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    Possibly find a forensics forum in which to ask this question, if there is such a thing. Can't say I have much experience of watching people burn to death (only once or twice... :p) but I'd guess the skin would flake off slowly, rather than peel.. and i'm guessing the smell wouldn't be particularly nice.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can find some fairly authoritative post-mortem descriptions in Patricia Cornwell's Point of Origin.
     
  8. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want the basic format of someone burning, use this. It's from an old version of my own story, based on accounts of the effects of burning oil on battlefields:

    It's not brilliant. Like I said, it's an old scene. Don't copy it exactly - I don't need it, but the situation is quite specific.
     
  9. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Depends on the situation. Clothes might stink. . . I remember reading about starving soldiers burning the corpses of the fallen. The most disturbing detail was how delicious their dead friends smelled as they were 'cooking'.

    Mmmm. . pork, anyone?
     
  10. sidtvicious
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    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditto on the forensic things, also look up Thích Quảng Đức, the monk who protested by doing so about vietnam. Some very graphic pictures are around of the incident, which could very well serve to your advantage in describing it.
     
  11. MrJoey
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    Really? Wow.. that's interesting. I suppose hunger can do alot to alter your senses, but it's still only burning flesh, I guess it would smell like any other animal which is cooking. I guess it really depends, our bodily fluids may leak out and cause a foul smell, and some organs might not smell particulary nice as they cook but fortunately I haven't experienced it, and I don't think I want to any time soon. :)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The smell of burning hair is NOT pleasant.
     
  13. Kas
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    You're absolutely right about that! I completely forgot that little detail. Since the scene was outside I'm thinking the smell of burning hair and such would eventually be carried away on the wind, leaving nothing but the charred meat crackling for some time.

    But now that you mention it. . . the nauseating stench of burning hair is probably worth describing, and it's easy to find out first hand what it's like.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Mainly, you are just going to see flames.

    Another way you could do it is watch a few movie scenes of people burning. You can find clips on youtube.
     
  15. Northern Phil
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    I would guess that if they were trapped in a small room then they would succumb to effects of smoke inhalation before the fires affected their bodies, that is if you're going for the realistic feel.

    This link to a wikipedia page describes several forms of burning execution as well as giving references to several movies that have used a burning execution which may be of benefit to you.
     
  16. Obezyanka
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    I read in some witness statements of those survivours of the holocaust sayin g the first thing they notice was the air and that it had a smell that one would never forget, it was the burning of the corpses. Apparently it smelt of meat cooking. Meat is muscle.
     

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