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Ouch! That's Gotta Hurt!

*Initially this blog post was going to be accompanied by a short video of the resident meese attempting various dramatic actions commonly employed in books. But it was set to resemble an episode of Jackass and, strangely, no one wanted to volunteer. Instead we'll employ a fun, and much less harmful, tactic.*

As writers, we don't get to create our death-defying 'moments' with CGI. Or have a broken heart montage set to the World Spins Madly On by the Weepies (seriously, that song is in every Mandy Moore RomCom). Which means sometimes we pluck the string of tension and drama in other ways. Ways that out of context might seem a bit unrealistic. . .

The Scale of Pain (for a little reference):
5--I'd rather stub my toe.
10--Would make the Zombie Apocalypse feel like a vacation
s#$t!--That's gotta hurt.

Nail Biting Often makes an appearance as "Bitten to stubs" "Ragged" "Jagged" etc. 
Pain rating: 1
Though I've never had the palate for fingernails myself, I have several friends who are nail biters. They seem to enjoy it so it's hard for me to believe it's all that painful.

Digging nails into palms
Likelihood: Moderate
Pain rating: 4

I've curled my fingers into a fist on a few occasions over the years and discovered the tell-tale 'half moon shapes' left behind. But then, I find punching a pillow much more satisfying and less painful (at least for me. The poor pillow takes quite the beating). But speaking of punching . . .

Punching through a wall/knuckles bleeding
Pain rating: 6

I've seen this on television a couple times, but have never witnessed it first hand. Granted, the houses here are strictly made with concrete and my husband can barely get a nail into the wall, much less his fist, should he ever try. But I've read books where a couple of young bucks take out their rage against an innocent piece of sheetrock, and while it's not unbelievable, one must be careful using this tactic. Reserve for very dramatic scenes. Or make sure the reader knows your character is also employed by WWE.

Biting lip/drawing blood
Likelihood: Low
Pain rating:10

Ever been munching away on your revision bowl of Lucky Charms with whipped cream (don't judge) when all of the sudden WHAM! you bite right down on your lip, tongue, or inside of your cheek? Maybe I've been drilled on too much at the dentist, but I'd rather battle zombies than willingly take a chomp. Try it. Right now. Draw your lip in between your teeth and see if you can muster up the nerve. (Not really. I'd feel awful if you hurt yourself). But this is a common reaction used to show fear or anger in very dire scenes. Don't know about you guys, but were I face to face with death, it's likely I'd loose bladder control first.

Heart bursting
Likelihood: Very low
Pain rating: s#$t--that's gotta hurt!

Okay, okay. This is rarely (never) used in the literal sense. But for real. If we all went around bursting our hearts with happiness, it'd make for a very pessimistic world ;) 

Don't take any of this random musing to mean writers shouldn't put these actions to use in our work (it was more for fun than anything). But write with caution. Otherwise your characters will end up resembling contestants on MTV's Bully Beatdown pretty quick. 

What are some common dramatic reactions you see in books? How would you rate them in real world pain?

Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. I must admit, it hurts like all getout when I bite my tongue or the inside of my cheek... but I bite my lip all the time. I've never bitten through my lip to cause it to bleed, though. That must take sharp teeth!!

  2. I bite my nails. You are right. It doesn't hurt (unless you accidentally tear one too low!)

    I love this post.

  3. But ripped-off cuticles? I think I'd take the zombies, seriously. That shit is PAINFUL.

    Hilarious post, Lady A!

  4. Can I just say, that this post further cements my love of YA Highway... :)

    It always makes me cringe when characters bite their nails to the point of being "jagged" and chew their lips to the point of bloodshed. Yuck. Glad I'm not the only one!


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Item Reviewed: Ouch! That's Gotta Hurt! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah