…nobody ever seems to write fanfics with realistic medical problems. Normal humans bounce back from traumatic injuries like blunt force trauma, major bleeds and cracked skulls etc with nary a moment’s recovery, or you’ll have someone who suffered a cardiac arrest with a 40 minute downtime – but within 5 hours they are awake and taking to their family, and in 10 days they are absolutely fine and the picture of health. People, please! One of my favourite things in life is Thunderbirds – major fan of the old series and the new – and I LOVE fan fiction. And there are some beautifully written works of art out there, and they address medical problems perfectly. But gosh! Despite being regular human lads they get everything thrown at them (cardiac arrests, major traumas, life-changing injuries, comas, etc) – and in a lot of fics they recover from everything in a heartbeat 🙄 it’d be far more emotionally traumatic and far more of a tear jerking pity party if more people actually took the time to study what would normally happen after those kinds of illnesses/injuries are inflicted!
I would like to add some thoughts to this, but I’m on my way to work at the moment, so reblogging for a later addition 😀
(Work gets in the way again)
…you’ve got my attention…
Wherein Nutty attempts to waffle about writing, probably misses the point, but makes a few others along the way…
I would like to weigh in on this discussion because it is something that gets mentioned quite often.
I’ve often wondered how medical professionals have managed to watch any action/adventure TV without throwing something at the TV. I’m a graphic designer and librarian by trade and I have to say there have been moments, particularly in crime procedurals where images or videos have been enlarged for more details in forensics – man, I’d love to have one of their machines that can actually do that, because so not possible – where fantasy has been broken by a lack of logical reality. So yeah, considering my little medical knowledge can trip over regular TV, I don’t know how people who are in the know can actually suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy it at all.
Then we have CGI characters in a children’s show. These guys bounce. The opening scene in the first episode of Thunderbirds Are Go has Virgil hitting the hard surface of TB2 in a way that could likely have had him crippled for weeks, if not forever…ow, I even wrote a fic about it. He wasn’t even wearing his helmet. But he gets up and smiles and on we go. Explanation – children’s show. I hope the kids have more sense to realise that this is not how the real world works.
Anyway, I’m rambling….medical stuff in fan fiction. I’m sure I’m as guilty as anyone for stuffing up medical details and shortening recovery times. But I think there are a few factors regarding medical conditions in general that we should think about when writing.
Firstly, consider what the story/plotline needs. Why is the person being injured – is it a plot reason or an emotional reason? Is it to drive another character to do something? Only injure for a reason.
Secondly, in line with what the plot needs, injure appropriately. Be careful, humans are fragile, you can easily break them too much and write yourself into a corner. I’ve done this and ended up leaving my favourite character bedridden for the entire fic. This can be a problem. So before you break a bone, do a quick check of the net to find out if it is six or eight weeks recovery or if you will need to lean into sci-fi to invent something in accordance with the universe you are writing in, to speed up recovery.
And now we come to medical detail.
Only add what is necessary to the scene. Every word in a story needs a reason to be there. Does the reader need to know the victim’s exact blood pressure or will ‘low’ do the job? Is their blood pressure needed for the scene at all?
If you are writing from the perspective of a character, write to the character’s level of knowledge. If the character is a kid and his dad is leaking red all over the floor, he is going to be scared and may or may not know what to do. If the character is a doctor, they would likely be chanting first aid routines in their head and would know exactly what to do.
If you do put in detail, make sure you know the detail is correct. If you can’t find an answer online somewhere, if possible leave it out or ‘fluff’ the scene and let the reader fill in the gaps. By ‘fluffing’ I mean leave it vague, put in the logical steps that you do know and have a flock of doctors take over or leave out specifics entirely. Fanfic writers do not have the time to get a medical degree. Do your best, and fluff the rest.
Now for the rose tinted glasses…
This is fiction. This may be according to personal preference, but I do think that fan fiction does tend to need a pair of rose tinted glasses from time to time. Of course, it depends on the focus of the fic, but let’s face it, I’ve been in intensive care, there are things that happen in there that are intensely unpleasant, and unless it is important to the fic for either mood or plot reasons, exact detail on the insertion of a catheter, for example, isn’t really needed.
In most cases this is fantasy, it is read for fun and escapism. In reality, hospitalisation sucks and can be boring, the version you see in fiction is different from reality. No, your family won’t be there for every second of your stay, hanging off the edges of your bed, but your character’s family likely will be, because this is really what we secretly want, ignoring the work they have to attend, the lives that keep on moving and the kids at home who still need to be fed.
We love the happy ever afters without the lasting damage, the wheelchairs, the mental impairment, etc, This is fantasy. Just make sure you put in enough logical reality to make the fantasy work. Obey your universe’s rules.
Thunderbirds is approximately forty years in our future. Think forty years back and look at the differences in our technology now for a comparison. Assuming we don’t destroy the planet in the meantime, there will likely be some advances (but not to the level of Star Trek) so you can probably improve the medical care somewhat. Invent a few miracle cures along the way.
Fiction will never match reality. Heh, if my characters were real, they would likely be so mentally and physically damaged they would unlikely be able to function. But this is fantasy, and within reason we can get away with a lot more than reality ever could.
If you want to write a fic about recovery from a bullet wound, fabulous go for it. But if you want to write a fic about a character getting revenge for receiving a bullet wound, that recovery will likely get in the way – give it its logical due and timeline and move on. Write for what the story needs.
And last, but not least, a word to the wonderful people who leave comments and feedback on fan fiction. Writers adore feedback. In the majority this consists of positive feedback. Pick out the good stuff in the fic and rave about it, this is good. However if you find something that you think the author may have missed or made an error, please tackle it tactfully or not at all. Always do it privately and kindly. Fanfic writers write for free and for pleasure. You make it unpleasurable and ruin their day, not only are you hurting someone, but you’re stopping the creation of fic for your fandom. And besides, you don’t know the situation the writer is in – they might be a young writer, they might be having a bad spot in their life and writing is their outlet. Be kind, encourage and enjoy.
And if there is something glaringly wrong in the fic and it breaks it for you – stop reading and move on. If you’re not happy with the fic in the fandom, grab a computer and write your own. There is always room for more contributions, we’re all doing this because we share a love for a fandom after all.
Never forget this is supposed to be fun for everyone…except perhaps the characters…sorry, Tracy boys 😀
In summary, as a fanfic writer, do your best to keep it logical and correct for your story’s needs. As a fanfic reader, read what you enjoy, respect the writer, and move on if you don’t like their work.
(Off the edge, but learning to fly)