Anatomy and writers

As writers we need to pay close attention that what we write is anatomically correct. I recentlly read a book where the main female character was shot in her upper chest. The bullet went all the way through making a hole in her scapula (shoulder blade). But in the next chapter the writer says it missed her lung. How is that possible? I learned a lot about lungs when my husband had surgery to remove part of his right lung because of cancer. The lung  (in the book) was up high enough that it would have been puntured and would probably have collapsed.

In No Plans for Love, I have an incident where the female main character had the breath knocked from her so bad she stopped breathing. An ER nurse was on the scene and promptly gave her mouth-to-mouth resusitation. The girl was still aware of what was happening though she couldn’t breathe. An editor told me that if she was conscious she didn’t need to be resustitated. I wrote back that I had written it from personal experience. It took me half an hour to be breathing properly. No ER nurse worth her salt is going to wait around that long to see if she can  breathe on her own. It’s still in the book. Believe me, not being able to breathe is not a fun experience.

In another novel by a very popular author, the female protagonist was a petite 5’2″ but she had long legs. In another novel, the main male character had green eyes in the first chapter, but in subsequent chapters, he had gray eyes.

Love scenes are something else. Especially when they are between a big man and a small woman. I am less than five feet tall. My husband was nearly six feet tall. I know from experience some of those things written are not anatomically possible unless both partners are contorionists.

In any written work, we as writers have a responsibility to our readers not to make these mistakes. We should at least have a working knowledge of the human body. If we don’t, it is not that difficult to find the necessary information, either in reference books or on the internet. And we must make certain that we get the details correct in subsequent chapters. I usually go back and read over my work if I am in doubt. I’d rather take the extra time to be sure than to publish a book that is incorrect.

We also need to be aware of what we have written in previous chapters so we don’t make mistakes that may confuse the reader.

An added note: my book No Plans for Love is now on Amazon Kindle.

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