1. Spine.Cleaver
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    Spine.Cleaver New Member

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    How to describe a human stampede?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Spine.Cleaver, May 31, 2010.

    I'm having a great difficulty in describing a human stampede. It's hard to give the reader a dynamic overview of what happens in a stampede all the while trying to make it tragic and overwhelmingly grotesque. I hope this falls under the category of plot creation.

    -Spine Cleaver

    P.S. I hope I'm not offending a limit of thread creation on this forum as I've already created 3-4 threads within a span of two weeks.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Focus on individual lives caught up in the event, rather than the scale of it. Perhaps take the point of view of someone who saw his or her best friend/lover/child maimed or killed by an out of control crowd.

    Make it personal. Show the heroes, but also the horror, on a very peronal level.
     
  3. Spine.Cleaver
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    Spine.Cleaver New Member

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    The problem here is that I have the protagonist witnessing the event before him and from a bird's eye view. He does have a past where he's lost a loved one to something similar. I'll try to weave that in somehow with the stampede incident.

    -Spine Cleaver
     
  4. Lankin
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    Lankin Member

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    All depends if your characters are involved in it or seeing it from the outside.
    Just a rant of mine, perhaps you can get something out of it:
    I have been in a stampede only once , it has been a really scary experience -- it was at a huge rock festival, during a Rage Against The Machine performance, so the arena was packed.
    I just thought absolutely nothing when people start falling on top of each other around me, all at the same time struggling to get away from each other and literally to get on top of things.
    Weird sight, too, like a crop circle spreading, when you see hundreds of people being thrown down, each one dragging the next to the ground. I just focused on protecting my head from shoes and bottles. I didn't even feel panic, just a huge relief when it was over, after a minute or so; luckily nothing really bad had happened, and people were rubbing their bruises.
     
  5. hoist
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    hoist Member

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    I'm gonna have to piggyback Cogito's advice: Make it as personal as possible. Give the strangers faces. The protagonist may not know the backgrounds of the people in the crowd, but he can make simple observations:

    A man with a sandpaper goatee was snarling nonsense, scissoring his arms, bulling his way past a pregnant woman. A freckled boy's eyes were wide as cracking dinnerplates. The sleeve of a blonde girl's blouse was torn in her father's panicked hand, and she howled, red-faced.

    ... kinda sorta? Maybe?
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    imagine yourself in one... and take it from there...

    you can also google for images and videos of real life ones, for that bird's eye pov...
     
  7. basefare
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    basefare Member

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    What happens in a stampede? People began pushing, shoving each other, moving forward, some trip and fall, the whole crowd is moving forward, a mass wave of people, stepping on and over the fallen. Hands are crushed, arms broken, faces stepped on. People are screaming, yelling. The mass goes forward, toward the stage. When the carnage is over a dozen kids are down. Groans can be heard all over the field. Some are covered with blood, others moan. Two lie still, life gone from them, young victims of a senseless stampede to get a free ticket.

    I'm sure you can do it better.
     
  8. hyperspace!
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    hyperspace! Member

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    "And then a f*ckload of people came running from the same direction."

    Maybe not, but y'know. Less is more. Like charmine ultra.
     
  9. bigSQUISHY76
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    bigSQUISHY76 Member

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    My suggestion is not how you would write it but that you search for riot videos, soccer games crowds and any other major tragic events caught on video. You can watch some of them and take notes about your reaction and feeling when you see it. That is the best way I can suggest you see what they are like without getting trampled to death.

    V/R
    BS76
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    First off your sn Spine.Cleaver may give me nightmares.. I've had spine surgery. lol :p

    I agree with Cogito. You said he'd lost loved ones prior to this. Have him noticing specific people in the crowd. Maybe he sees on that reminds him of someone he lost and it reopens the wound. Or the very idea that people are dying and he is helpless to do anything brings back memories and grief. It would depend on the situation he lost his loved one(s) to I suppose. Was he helpless to stop the event that killed them? If so then I would think he would feel the same helplessness in this situation and be in anguish that he couldn't help and them and spare someone else the pain of losing someone they loved.
     
  11. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I wrote something of similar value - a tragedy of sorts happening as somebody watches - and used the description of Brandenburg Concerto #3 - Allegro Moderato to describe what he saw. It was appropriate for the story because of the link to music the main character had, but the important thing was that I accurately described the situation. Admittedly, it was also a way for the reader to better understand the mood and the mindset of the scene. It's like listening to Carol of the Bells each Christmas. It alone conveys an entire season, holiday, and mood.

    For myself, I try to avoid scenes of the macabre. Some people like such things, but I find very little of interest in bloodletting - to each his own. My advice to you, however, is to relate what is happening to something that is important to the character. We all have things we love in this world, even if they are slight. It is because of those ideas that we see the world as we do. For my character, the violence he saw took on the form of music to some degree.

    If none of that makes sense... then, well, listen to Cogito. It's probably best you do that anyhow.
     
  12. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    Cardboard Tube Knight Member

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    I would say liken it to an animal stampede, kind of like you're showing how animal a human can be.
     

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