1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I don't think my character's injury is at all realistic...

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Link the Writer, Sep 30, 2010.

    In fact, I think it's almost Hollywood in nature.

    Okay, here's how it goes. This character, in the middle of the climax, is nearly beaten to death by way of a blunt object to his head. He enters a coma for a few months. When he finally gets out of it, he has no memory of what had happened, nor who was involved. The nearest he can remember was the events before the book (or just in the first chapter).

    He still remembers his friends, his family, who he is, where he is etc, just not the people that dragged him through the plot of the entire book and brought him to the climax. They're just strangers to him despite knowing them for a good long while.

    What I think is unrealistic is that he seems to get into a coma for a very specific length of time and is gifted with a very specific form of memory loss.

    Yet all that hinges on a tragic scene I have set up where an aquatience the main character that he had just gottent to know goes to congradulate him for his brave acts, but the main character has no clue as to who he is.

    What should I do? Should I revamp the scene?
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would give him a few more memory holes and some other permanent damage. And not have in wake up 100% okay, but still have a few weeks of recovery time after he wakes up with cognitive difficulties. It makes the price higher and makes the whole thing feel like a "plot convinient" injury. Let things have a high price makes good drama.

    As for permanent damage I would perhaps pick some loss of vision, like becoming almost blind one his left eye (damage to the nerves to the eyes is common after head trauma).

    And more memory holes like periods of childhood gone. Like people he remembers, and remember a lot of facts about them but not when he got to know them or when they told him what he know about him. Worth noting, skills memories is a different memory system then episode memory. He could forgotten his time at school without forgetting what he learned in school. Or the other way around.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If even YOU have trouble swallowing it, don't expect to sell your readers on it.
     
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  4. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    If this is all you're worried about, then don't! He doesn't enter a coma for a 'very specific' period of time, unless you say in advance how long he's going to be in a coma for. People are in comas for a variety of lengths all the time. Also, memory loss can be patchy, and we still don't really know how our memories work. Some people have very specific memory loss, others have general loss. Some have short term loss, others long term. There's nothing necessarily odd about your character getting hit on the head, entering a 3 month coma and forgetting the bits you want him to forget.

    However, I'd be interested to know why you're even considering this. As Cogito said, if you're confused about it, don't expect anyone else to get it. What purpose does the coma and memory loss serve?
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, I figured it'd be great character development. Before the injury, the main character's brash, bold, charging into things without thinking ahead, somewhat arrogant. He disregards the advice people give him, thinking he's going to make it somehow.

    After the injury, he's very calm, very hesitant, wants to think twice before doing anything serious.

    EDIT: I also think that the coma can serve as a way for his friends to have their own character developments likewise.
     
  6. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    Most people who go into a comma do not remember what happened, they may just remember the days before. I think you could find a way to make it work.
    The unrealistic thing is his recovery. For everyday you in a comma you need about a weeks recovery. He would need to learn walking, talking, reading, writing, most social skills. Maybe you could make him in a comma for a shorter time period so he just forgets and is on bed rest for a week.
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, memory loss doesn't have to = a coma... Just that that sort of injury is usually accompanied by one.

    I did read somewhere scientific-y that that sort of specific memory loss is very common - newer memories are usually affected harder.

    The only way it could be a really convenient time of coma is if outside events just kick off again right as he comes out of it - totally independant of his being well or not. If they started up again BECAUSE he was out of his coma, great. If he just happened to wake up the day this or that was happening, totally unplanned around his being awake or not, you have a problem. :p
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Let me see if I have it right.

    Guy in coma- Things outside his control starts happening again so his friends have to deal with it. That's good?*

    Guy wakes up from coma right when things outside his control starts happening again. That's bad?

    * If things start happening again while the dude's in a coma, there'll probably have to be a seperate book following his friends...
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could just have a friend summarise anything that happened while he was out.

    Or, like someone else said, have a good long recuperation time so he wasn't, like, physically ill and stuff after his coma timez... Then only later have plot stuff spring back up. Depends how much you want to pace it.

    Basically, all I'm saying is: Don't have him wake up the day the guy who decided to beat him up, totally without knowing the coma dude has awoken, setting the next playing piece of his grand plan in place, ready for coma dude to intercept on his way out of hospital.

    Like... In that first Jason Bourne movie I'm pretty sure events only started up because he went somewhere and did something that made them notice he was alive and well? As far as I remember he started on a fishing boat or something. If he'd stayed on that boat for the whole movie, most of the stuff in it wouldn't have happened.

    I have a worrying feeling I mixed 2 or 3 different movies there, but it's 2am and I woke up at 6am yesterday, so I may not be in the best state of mind for pop culture references. :p
     
  10. Seroci
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    Seroci New Member

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    Does the coma serve any specific, important purpose? From what I've read, it sounds like the memory loss is more important than the fact that he was in a coma, regardless of the length of time. Severe head trauma can cause memory impairments and various forms of amnesia without being accompanied by a coma, which (to me) is a little melodramatic and unnecessary, unless you absolutely need your character to be so drastically incapacitated for any amount of time.

    If he needs to be "out of the picture" but you want to avoid the soap opera coma, you can simply have him recovering from his head trauma. He may have to relearn some simple (or complex, however you'd want to play it) motor skills or daily living skills, things that may have been hampered by whatever part of his brain suffered most. Some forms of trauma require surgery, and recovery can be lengthy. You can also have the coma be induced by the doctors to aid in whatever lifesaving procedures may be required. (of course, I'm assuming that because there's trauma and a coma, that means there are doctors and hospitals)

    Head trauma isn't always accompanied by personality changes. If that's integral to your story, and you're worried about it being believable, I suggest doing a little reading about people to whom that's actually happened. Phineas Gage comes to mind immediately. As a personal anecdote, a friend of a friend's fiance fell from his roof (a week before the wedding, talk about bad luck) and when he finally recovered enough to be released from the hospital, he was more impulsive and quick-to-anger and it almost cost the relationship. It does happen, but having a precedent with which you are familiar will probably help you avoid convenient plot lines in favor of something more realistic that your readers can swallow.

    For believability, I say research, research, research.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds a bit like a common occurrence in television dramas or some films - the phone ringing at just the right time (usually interrupting dialogue that's going nowhere - probably because it was written for the express purpose of being interrupted) with a dramatic turn of events.
     
  12. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    This is not char development in the true sense, since he can't remember what went wrong or what he did wrong. Rather there will be physiological and psychological changes of which he himself will be surprise. During the memory lost I think he will be very preoccupied thinking why am I so calm when normally I used to do it 'this' way. His clam and hesitant nature is also more likely due to his physical weakness after the incident and not due to fundamental changes in his perception. There are changes in his nature no doubt, but it would seem rather forced, literally.

    So, to go to the extent of coma and memory lost to make him change his nature is going too far imo and, as I said, forced. A more realistic and interesting way will be to make him fully aware of what had happened and then he changed. If you still want to have the coma and memory lost, make the memory come back and make him become a changed men.

    As for his friends they still have to deal with their changed friend either way.
     

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