Saturday, January 14, 2017

Writing Tip #18: Death and Where to Stick 'em

This tip is going to be way different than the other tips I've written about so freaking long ago. Sorry about that. Anyway, we're not talking about dealing with the death of your character. That's next time. Today, we're dealing with what happens to a typical person when they're, you know, KILLED. And yes in the physical sense.

For those who don't know: I wrote a 13 book thriller/murder mystery series. I went into the Forensics side of things (vaguely) and found out a lot of interesting things about what the human body does when placed in the vicinity of various deadly objects.

In short: can your character jump into ice water and swim for a mile? Nope. Unless they're immune to the cold they will experience hyperthermia almost immediately. If the water's cold enough they may even have a heart attack upon hitting said water. There are certain factors in determining hyperthermia. I found a cool article: HERE. I used said article's information in Bloody X-Mas.

Can a character survive the blast of a 12 gauge shot gun at 10 feet? Nope. Unless the person shooting at them grazes them and even then it could cause your character's death. A 12 gauge shot gun can go through at least one cement wall and can blow a hole through a tree. The human body is all soft tissue and muscle. Our bones aren't even as hard as cement. If you get grazed with a 12 gauge, you are going down. This information appears in Hunter.

Can your officer character hit a target at 15 feet? Maybe but with a standard issue Glock: they're going to stun and not kill. The range on a police Glock is 10 feet and that's if your character is a good shot.

Can you shoot one-handed or while in a moving vehicle? Nope. Recoil is a bitch and you will have a sore wrist or be thrown back depending on the size of your gun. Can you fire a bigger gun from hip height? Kind of. The butt of the gun should be supported by your pelvis or your shoulder to prevent recoil because the bigger and more powerful the gun then the further back you're going to be thrown.

For those who think your character can survive a cut to the upper arm, stick a patch on it, and move around for days, here are some bleed times for various arteries. Bleed time refers to about how long it will take a person to die if they are struck in said place. It depends on the person's age, heart rate, etc. I found all these here when looking for the proper name of the brachial artery.

Carotid Artery (neck): 2 to 20 minutes.
Jugular Vein (neck): 2 to 20 minutes.
Subclavian artery: 2-20 minutes. This is an artery in the shoulder that runs down the front of a person's body and by the first rib. Unless someone does field surgery on you right away: you will not make it.
Subclavian vein: 15-60 minutes.
The Brachial Artery: 5-60 minutes. This is the one located in your upper arm and protected by the bicep. Depending where you cut along this artery changes the bleed time. Up closer to the arm pit and you're looking at the 5 minute range. Down further by the elbow and you might survive a bit longer.
Femoral Artery: 5-60 minutes. This is the big one located in your upper leg. You hit this puppy right and you're going down in seconds.
Axillary artery: 5-60 minutes. You can hit this via the armpit and front of the shoulder joint. It's hard to hit but an upwards slash or stab hit just right and the wound becomes extremely difficult to treat even with direct pressure. Yes: insta-death.
Inguinal artery: 5-60 minutes. It feeds the femoral artery in the leg and can be accessed by striking upwards between the legs and into the groin. Another extremely difficult wound to treat even with applying direct pressure. Think Blackhawn Down.
Aorta or any part of the heart: 1-2 minutes. These are instant death bleeders.

So, what's in a CSI Kit? It depends on your kit. Here's a good website to check out:

How do you do an autopsy? Wiki-how gives you a nice step-by-step guide WITH pictures located here:

How long will it take you to dig a grave? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. If you're doing this at night with a shovel, are average in athletics, and the ground isn't frozen from the winter, and the grave is shallow: about 3-5 hours, depending how shallow. You WILL NOT be able to dig a grave in an hour, with a shovel, in the middle of the woods, at night. It is not possible. I found a cool thread:

I have reams of information about decay times dependant on environmental factors as well as information about the human body in general. I don't have a link for any of it, sorry. I would suggest for any author wanting to delve into crime fiction or murder mystery: take a basic Forensic Anthropology and a Criminal Psychology course.

You can find plenty online (that's what I did) and you'll thank yourself later when your novel comes off as more believable. No, don't get a degree. You just need a single course available through a continued learning program to get you going. Of course, you can specialize in both fields if you have the time/money/motivation.

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

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