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Realistic Injuries: Shoulder Wounds

Discussion in 'Research' started by Adela, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Adela

    Adela Scribe

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    So I have a scene in an older draft where a warrior gets hit with an arrow in the shoulder. I've since read that shoulder wounds can NOT be shrugged off and that people have major arteries in that area. This can be deadly. Guess we've all grown up seeing movies and shows where people shrug off these wounds and keep fighting. He does WAY too much and just keeps going after this and even pulls the arrow out. Something I now know is a stupid thing to do. I'm at an impasse and don't know how to rewrite this or give him another type of injury where he could keep going.

    Basically, what should I do? What kinds of injuries could I give him where he could be down for the count but not totally out of the fight? Help!
     
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  2. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Have him wear heavy armor so that it only goes in half an inch or so?

    I slow my MC down with the types of injuries you normally sustain while fighting even if you win: bruises, sprains, strains, dislocations, a fractured tailbone. Armored combat was much more about beating the crap out of your opponent to make them stop fighting you than it was ever about stabbing them or slicing them through their armor. (My second book has a duel between two heavily armored champions that ends with one of them monkey-stomping the other one, literally jumping and down on him in his armor.) It doesn't take much more than a broken leg or even just having the wind knocked out of you to end a fight.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, it flies in the face of the kind of glorified, pretend violence that we've come to expect in a lot of fantasy, but then, you can't have everything.
     
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  3. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Actually, that depends where on the shoulder would is. You can try researching gunshot wounds. But basically, the only safe (relatively) areas to shoot someone are 1) outside of the shoulder (so that it doesn't hit either the bone or the arteries - which btw are located around the armpit), 2) outside of the thight (again, so it misses the bone and the arteries running along inner thigh) and 3) gluteus maximus muscle (shoot him in the ass!, but the shot has to come from the side so it does not hit the bone).

    Also, if he is shot and need to keep fighting (well, that arm will definitely be out of the action), much better way is to break off the shaft near the wound so that it doesn't move too much or get snagged. But that will make extraction more difficult (which, in some cases, was done by pushing the arrow through).

    And there is what MalikMalik said. Even with armour, arrows do pack a punch - not so much with plate (which reduces arrows, especially ones from distance, to level of "annoyance as long as they don't get lucky), but while gambeson and mail (especially when combined) can stop arrows, force behind arrow will still cause bruising and possibly even slight penetration.

    Keep in mind however that archers often kept arrows "at hand" by stabbing them into ground. So any arrow would has high chance of getting infected. Which means that your best shot is not have arrows cause bleeding wounds at all. That however is not a short-term concern.
     
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  4. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    Getting shot in the butt is not safe. But it very much appears to be the spot where you have the highest chance of survival and full recovery. Of all the places to get shot, it's the least worst. :D

    No hit in any general area is automatically lethal or debilitating. It always varies case by case. Just a difference of millimeters can make a very big difference in how bad the wound is. There are all kinds of crazy accounts of people getting arrows in the face or throat and dying 50 years later of old age.

    In every story, we only have one person receiving one dangerous injury. Even if it's only a one in a million chance to survive the shot without major complication, this character can be that one one a million guy. It's when you have things like this happen 20 times that it gets implausible.
     
  5. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Conversely, I know a guy who got shot in the ass at a clearing barrel in Iraq, a negligent discharge of a 9mm pistol. The bullet traversed the pelvic cavity and exited his penis, splitting it like a hot dog in a microwave. So there's also the million-to-one chance the other way.

    I'll show myself out.
     
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  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I have known a couple of people who had accidental shoulder injuries (from nasty falls). They required surgery. Even after that, neither could lift that arm above shoulder level for months afterwards. (then again, both were on the 'old' side)
     
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  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    All injuries take a toll, which is often overlooked in action stories (any medium). Even a minor knife wound will sever nerves that the person will still at least notice years later. The question to me is, why do you want to injure your character at exactly this point? Is it to make us feel empathy? To slow the character down physically for some period of time? To disable them for a time? What is the *purpose* of the injury?

    Once you have that, you can decide on what serves that purpose. Maybe it's not an injury. Slow them down? A rainstorm can do that. Make us feel empathy? A hundred ways to do that. Make them grimace in pain? Drop a rock on their foot. Just remember, if you hurt them in Chapter 3, don't make them as if it never happened six chapters later. That will irk some of us. And some of us are irksome. Some.
     
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  8. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    I had a major secondary character (the buffoonish henchman who eventually morphs into a 'good guy') suffer a shoulder injury during a jousting match in my very first fantasy novel. For the three sequels he went around with his left shoulder a little higher than the right and unable to lift his left arm overhead. I think it is simply realistic to have injuries occur (and deaths, but that's another matter) and they would need to be woven into the plot and, ideally, hold some meaning for someone.

    The bard Ulani in my Mora cycle took a spear through the thigh some time back and is walking with a staff for support twenty years later. That may have soured his outlook some (a la Gregory House?); at any rate, he no longer wanders the realm to perform his epics. And his companions have to take it into account when they do travel together.
     
  9. Adela

    Adela Scribe

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    Wow. Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it. :D It happens to the MC's best friend in the third act. I can't have him wounded in the rear end, foot, leg, or anywhere else really, that's why I gave him a shoulder wound. He needs his legs to jump a rising drawbridge to help raid a fortress, swim through an aqueduct, then slide down a banner from a high balcony into a throne room as a distraction. (Jeez, I have this guy doing more than I remember, but I haven't looked at the draft in a long time. This just popped into my head last night and thought I'd randomly ask.)

    Yeah, if I wasn't working on something else, I'd take a peek at it, but I gotta finish up something else first. Yikes. o_O
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Kudos to Insolent Lad for making the injuries matter.
     
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  11. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    Thing is, there is also a type of injury to consider. Nasty fall is by definition a blunt force injury, which means that it is going to affect bones, not just muscles and nerves. An arrow will not affect a bone unless it hits it directly, but conversely, injury to what tissue it does hit will be greater. Same for the sword etc.
     
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  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Some things are best left unimagined, let alone experienced.

     
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  13. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    It's a dangerous world, my friend. This is why tigers sleep in trees.
     
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  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I doubt the tiger ever imagined that, or he'd wear extra gear while in the tree. Known more a few people with lead still in them, but that's a helluva way for it to come out.

     
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  15. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    Yup. I've got a flake of concrete in one deltoid screwing up the whole shoulder process. I'm fine with that. Gives TSA something to talk to me about.
     
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  16. ShadeZ

    ShadeZ Minstrel

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    Well for one, generally you DO NOT pull out an arrow you push it through. Especially in the shoulder because there are arteries but no major organs. Best idea would be the one suggested above where he is wearing heavy enough armor to mostly absorb the damage and not let it go too deep.
     
  17. Nighty_Knight

    Nighty_Knight Dreamer

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    It takes a special kind of stupid to shoot someone at a clearing barrel.
     
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  18. Nighty_Knight

    Nighty_Knight Dreamer

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    Another thing, you can have the arrow enter and the arrow exit on the outside of the deltoid so it does not pierce the joint or any other muscle groups. You can do the same to the trapezius, as long as it pierces a good distance above the clavicle and not close to the neck, then rotator cuff and neck muscle will get hit as well. This was it is still a painful injury that will take some time to recover, but it is done to a single muscle without damaging multiple muscles, bone, arteries or veins. A clean entrance and exit at a distant point so it also doesn’t snap the muscle. Just an additional idea.

    Another thing you can do it look at a few photos of upper torso anatomy as well as a few different piercing injuries.
     
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