If you’ve ever had a character stabbed or shot and bleeding, this post is for you.
“We must take out the bullet, Jack.”
Jack poured rum over Mary’s wound. “You hold her down, I’ll cut it out.”
I think our misinformation comes from the cardinal sins displayed in film. We’ve all read the Hollywood way of handling character injuries in books. Hell, we’ve all fallen prey to the same thing in our own writing. Fact is, most of it is just not accurate.
When I had the idea to write A Study of Ash & Smoke, I knew I had to do it right. I couldn’t spin this story about physicians if I had no knowledge about treating illnesses, operating, or suturing wounds. I figured I had to learn the basic medical terms and procedures for specific operations before I attempted to write about them.
Lucky that we find ourselves in the Age of the Interwebs, no? I did some research and found some wonderful medical resources for authors.
The Surgeon’s Blog has been dead for a while, but it’s still one of my most frequented resources. Written by surgeon Sydney Schwab, this blog offers insights into many surgical procedures, various illnesses, experiences in the ER, and so much more.
The best part is the posts are delivered with humour and humanity, offering you a glimpse into the mind of a real-life hero.
One of my favourite posts is the second part in his Operation, Deconstructed series. Since I have an operation scene and a character learning incisions in another scene in Ash & Smoke, this post has been a major help to me.
Writer’s Forensic Blog
Also known as The Crime Fiction Writer’s Blog, written by DP Lyle, MD. If you’ve ever had a character stabbed or shot, as we all have, this is a one-stop site for details on the wounds, effects, treatment, and debunking Hollywood myths. It also has a podcast!
My favourite posts are Stab Wounds Don’t Always Kill and Q&A: How Are Multiple Gunshot Wounds to the Chest Treated?
I’ve jokingly said you can learn anything from YouTube more than once. Well, Geeky Medics makes that true. It’s a great resource that shows you different suturing techniques, how certain examinations are done, lets you listen to the sound of breathing lungs through a stethoscope, and so much more.
Don’t worry, most of the videos about suturing and incisions are demonstrated on simulated skin, so most people can watch these without being triggered.
Where better to get medical information than on a university’s news site? Obviously this resource is aimed at people learning about or practicing in the industry, so a lot of the terminology will go over the head of a writer. Despite that, I’ve learned a thing or two by browsing the articles available.
Especially Rite of Passage for First-Year Medical School Students: Meeting Their Cadavers. Writing about a physician’s apprentice means there will be bodies, alive, dead, or somewhere in between. This article gave me such insight into the mind of a student faced with a cadaver for the first time.
- Battle Wounds: Never Pull an Arrow out of a Body is a wonderful, in-depth piece about medical practices in the American Revolution.
- Good old Wikipedia has many entries of medical flavour, like Surgical Instrument.
- I found this great article about Common Incisions on Fastbleep.
So let us go forth and write devastating injuries that turn into epic battle-scars, but with a touch of reality, shall we?
Do you have any medical resources I’ve missed? Please share them in the comments.
Yolandie Horak can often be found typing away at the computer or nibbling at the end of a paintbrush. When not writing or making art, she spends her time cuddling her daughter and husband, reading, fangirling, or gaming.
She resides in Calgary, Canada, but misses the milk tart and koeksisters she frequently ate in her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa.
She has been a passionate blogger since the dawn of time, and updates her blog twice per week with art tutorials, her thoughts on writing, book reviews and experiences as an immigrant.