Due to unforeseen circumstances, my September newsletter is a few days late. It all came about because I tripped, landing on my knee and fracturing my kneecap (patella). After an emergency hospital visit and follow-up with an orthopaedic surgeon, it got me thinking about how, as a writer, we deal with injuries in our stories.
We want our stories to be as authentic as possible. Still, it is not until experiencing a damaged kneecap that you appreciate the tasks, we expect our heroes to perform with, say, broken bones. In Racing Dream, James McKenzie breaks his leg. My critique partners of that time thought it would be difficult for him to make love in the way I portrayed. The cast would hamper movement. I did not think about that. I had thought about it from his perspective: Where there is a will, there is a way. Anyway, I was howled down and changed the scene by putting Annabel Martin in charge. It made for a far more exciting love scene.
In book one of my West Series, Destiny. There is a scene where a bear attacks my hero, Dan West. The setting is in the wilds of British Columbia, and there is no nearby hospital or town. They are fifteen minutes away from the Bear Lodge, on a boat in an estuary looking for bears. Initially, I wrote that Dan is in the water, and when the bear attacks, Ellie throws the rifle to him. He shoots the bear but is badly mauled. Ellie gets him ashore, and half carries him to a cabin where she builds a fire and keeps him alive through the night until help arrives in the morning. Ellie is a doctor. I considered she was qualified and up to the task. But those dreaded critique partners (I do not know what I would do without them) pulled the scene apart. So, I rewrote it, placing the responsibility of shooting the bear into Ellie’s hands, giving the scene far more tension. She needs to act fast and get Dan out of the water, so she drags him onto the riverbank, and returns to the boat for the first aid kit and calls the Bear Lodge for assistance. She goes back to the shore and triages our hero. I researched how a critically injured person is dealt with in such circumstances. Emergency services send a chopper with paramedics to stabilise the patient before transporting to a hospital. The scene felt real and worked.
I have always felt personal experience matters when writing some of these scenes. My knowledge of horses and the Outback comes through in the Racing Series. I like to set my stories in places I have visited, but there is nothing like touching the ground, breathing in the air, and absorbing everything around you. Setting is crucial if you want to immerse your reader in place, as does managing the reality of an injury.
Until next time
Contemporary adventure with