Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fight to the Pain

I only just recently noticed how much I've been beating the crap out of my heroes lately. Funny enough, it's because I submitted Set to Kill and noticed how few named characters I put into the hospital.

Okay, granted, I've put an awful lot of people into the morgue, but that's another conversation about my tendencies for mass murder of armed stupid people.

But at the end of It Was Only on Stun! ... I put Ryan in the hospital

At the end of A Pius Man ... one dead, one in the hospital, and two carted off in an ambulance.

A Pius Stand Two in the hospital. Sorry, three in the hospital. One impaled on a machete.

We won't even go into what happens to Sean in A Pius Legacy.

And of course, Marco Catalano gets the crap beaten out of him repeatedly.

Guess what? Pain is necessary. Why? Well, in some cases, it's simply because you don't get into a fight without getting a least a little hurt. Hell, you don't get into fist fights and gun battles with a few dozen people without getting at least a little beat up.

I've found that I have been beating up my characters a lot, ever since I started my Krav Maga training a few years ago. Getting the tar beaten out of you for three hours a day, four days a week, will inspire you to rewrite your characters into being winded after every fight. Or at least experience adrenaline fatigue.

It's one of the reason why schwarma in Avengers works so well. Because after fighting an alien army from the other end of the universe and nearly being nuked, you're not that much fun for a few hours. Probably not until you take a nap.

Jim Butcher has a special appreciation of pain, because he has suffered from migraines for many, many years. He's gotten to the point where he must lift weights every day or two, otherwise he gets them with a vengeance. This is one of the reasons why Harry Dresden is always getting his ass kicked, and probably why he had three books of constant headaches that threatened to literally make his brain explode out of his skull.

Robert Howard, the creator of Conan, was another one who appreciated pain and fights. The man actually got into fights a lot. As opposed to someone like Edgar Rice Burroughs, who never got into a fight in his life, and made John Carter of Mars look like Legolas after every fight scene. Legolas at least had a good reason, being an elf and all. In fact, I think they deliberately made it a running gag on the Lord of the Rings film.

Obviously, you can have a problem describing pain all the time, blow by blow. For one thing, that just clutters up the page. And second, it's not realistic. It often may not hurt when you get hit.  In my experience, pain usually comes later, after the impact happens -- maybe even after the inciting incident (fight, accident) happens. I even remember breaking my leg. It didn't hurt that much, but it did when I tried to walk on it. That was fun (read: KILL ME NOW).

But there's a reason my characters slow down by the end of the novel. Being beaten black and blue will do that. There's a reason that the TV show Arrow has our hero needing dire, emergency room level medical attention at least once a season. It hurts.

And frankly, it's going to hurt to be my characters. Bwahaha.

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