Monday, February 18, 2013


Any experience can provide an idea for your writing. For example, 5 years ago I broke my elbow and fractured my cheekbone. While I wouldn't recommend seeking this type of situation, my writer brain filed it away for future reference.

What I learned:

1)  You can't put on a seatbelt with a broken left elbow. I know because I tried. My head hurt so bad from the fall that I didn't realize it was out of commission. If I'd been smart or more lucid, I probably should have asked someone to call an ambulance. Instead I drove the 5 miles home.

2)  An incapacitated limb swells. My fingers not only resembled fat sausage links, but also refused to work.

3)  Surgery, a plate, and a couple of screws put me back together, but I needed intense therapy for 3 months.


When my character injures her arm, I KNOW it must be a sprain. She has to drive a long distance to her home. Unless I want her to take on a Wonder Woman or other superhero personality, she cannot do this with a break or a fracture.

Even with a sprain, I know she's going to be one hurting puppy. I reflect that in the storyline, along with references to some minor physical therapy.

Writers: How have you applied a life experience to your characters?

Readers:  When a character performs superhuman feats, how does it affect your view of the story?

Photo Credit:  Twinmom


Linda O'Connell said...

I am certain that the photo is not of you, as this is the right arm, tee hee. I notice small detail.

Seriously this is good writing advice.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Linda,

LOL! Very observant. You're correct, it's not me.

Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Ah good question! I need to think about this. Appreciate the advice!


Nancy said...

I have used things such shyness in story ideas, but not broken bones.

I do hate it when some heroine is able to "jump leaps and bounds." It does cause a bit of disbelief for the rest of the story.

Loree Huebner said...


3 years ago, I broke my wrist and snapped my thumb tendon. I had sausage fingers for weeks, and surgery 3 weeks after the fall only after they discovered my thumb didn't work.

I've used my pain experiences in my writing.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Good job of incorporating your own painful experience into your novel, Susan.

Nearly ALL my stories are centered on true-life experiences, with a little color thrown in for humor.

As a reader, I scoff at unrealistic feats by characters. The story can be fantastic, but must be realistic. Does that make sense?

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen - Our lives can provide lots of fodder for the novel machine. :)

Hi Nancy - I feel the same way. A book takes on a cartoonish effect when the hero/heroine are seemingly indestructible.

Hi Loree - Yes, I know exactly how you felt. Typing was impossible.

Hi Jen - Absolutely! You do a great job with your real-life stories.

Susan :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

Not being a fiction writer, Susan, I don't think about this very much in my work. But I've noticed how folks get shot in books. They're terribly wounded, but still leaping walls, pulling folks out of burning cars, and wrestling the bad guys into handcuffs.



JD said...

Good advice, Susan. A broken elbow and fractured cheekbone sound painful. Glad you could make lemonade out of the experience!

I had abdominal surgery a few years back and never thought of coughing, sneezing and getting in and out of bed as the painful activities they absolutely were during my recovery. But I now know what a person can and cannot do during that time of healing from that particular injury. ;-)

Thank you, as always, for sharing. Be well...