Cold Days, Cold Daze

I’m a disembodied voice, and it’s not even a sexy one.

Last week a polar vortex descended upon the land and the cold wiped much of us out. This week I’m wiped out by a cold.

Aside from the seductive purr voice the mucous buildup has given me, I have to say I’d take the vortex again over being sick. I forget how much being sick takes out of you.

However, being sick is a helpful reminder when it comes to creating believable character reactions. It reminds a writer that a change in a character’s health affects how he/she responds to the situation at hand. An example, unless your warrior is ambidextrous, cutting off his sword hand is going to make it difficult for him to fight. If he even survives to fight another day. No experience necessary but a severed limb is usually followed by immense pain and bloodshed. The flu can also knock your character down a few notches. The same if he’s been drugged. All of the above have physical and mind-altering effects that impact the flow of the story and decisions being made.

If the characters behave the same way injured or sick as they do healthy, then what was the point in having them be injured or stricken in the first place?

I have a character who gets his dominate hand chopped off in battle. He survives and ends up with a nifty skeleton prosthesis but, as it is currently written, he still maintains the same dexterity he had prior to the chop off. So I asked myself, what was the point? It does aid in twist further down the line but that could have been carried out without him losing a limb. It doesn’t handicap him in battle, the prosthetic isn’t a piece of futuristic technology common to the story, and magical spells are nonexistent. To shock the other characters? Sure, but they’re not going to have nightmares about it.

Hmm. . .

Methinks I will have to take another look at that and other similar instances.

Had a similar experience with your writing?


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