Injuries and Inconsistencies in Writing Fiction

The seventh episode of Dear Writer explores some misconceptions about both medicine and science, and how not to annoy your readers! We talk about the types and timings of injuries, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Sarah reflects on her past life as an orthopedic operating room nurse, and how we can create realistic injuries in fiction. Ashley also brings her work experience into play, discussing scientific inaccuracies and mistakes that crop up in TV and media.

This month, we have been testing out some new services and equipment, and though we had a few technical issues with recordings this month (which were fortunately resolved) the transcripts are back! We managed to hook into a transcription service that produced fairly decent results, which made editing A LOT easier. So, to read along with the transcription, scroll on down.

Injuries and Inconsistencies in writing fiction are easily made.
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Ashley: Hey everyone, welcome back to Dear Writer. We’re at episode seven, which seems a bit ridiculous. I can’t believe the time has gone by so fast. I feel like we only just started, but episode seven must mean we’re like seven months already, which is crazy to think about.

Sarah: It’s crazy, can’t believe seven months have gone by.

Ashley: I know. Goes by so quick. I’m recording in Tauranga today at my parents place. It’s a nice-ish day. A bit windy. But, should be good. My new puppy has been a scene all morning. He’s been… he’s grown up enough that he can jump on to beds now. And he’s got the most silent paws. You can’t even hear him walking on the hardwood floors in this house. So you’ll be asleep, and all of a sudden this ball of fur will launch onto the bed and wake you up. So he woke me up, woke James up, then stalked off downstairs and I hear a shout as he wakes my parents up. Jumps on their bed, licks their face.

Sarah: That’s great.

Ashley: So everyone’s been woken up by the puppy today.

Sarah: Um, in Calgary, we’re having a very nice sunny day. Which I’m typically spending indoors. I just have this view from my office window and I just stare out at these like, cloudless days that we’ve been having. But yeah, I don’t really have anything interesting to report. Just been like getting up super early and writing, and doing blog posts, and all the creative stuff in the morning. Followed by study which I’ve procrastinating very badly this week, despite getting up early.

Ashley: That’s definitely understandable procrastinating on study. How has the getting up early been going? Has it been working out for you?

Sarah: Very hard to get out of bed in the morning. And, I lie there, like the alarm goes off and I’ll wake up and I’ll be like, I should get up because I decided this was what I was going to do. And it has been going quite well. And then at the same time, I’m like I’m so tired. I could just… maybe half an hour. Or an hour. Like getting up at six—that’s still pretty good right? And then I’ll be like, no, no. If you do that, it’s just going to slowly slide into eight o’clock wake up’s again. Just don’t do it. So yeah, I’ve been forcing myself to get out of bed.

Ashley: Oh my gosh. I um… because I was… I’ve been thinking about getting up at six, just so I can write for like an hour before I go to work every day. But this past few days, I mentioned to you in an email that I was doing some extra work for a… it’s actually Netflix TV show.

Sarah: Oh, exciting.

Ashley: But anyways, so it was six thirty call time but because I live really far away from where it was, I had leave at six. So I had to get up at five-thirty for like a couple days in a row and then not getting home to nine pm or nine-thirty.

Sarah: Are you allowed to say what it is?

Ashley: Ah… I’m not supposed to

Sarah: Okay, don’t then. I’m so curious, you can tell me later.

Ashley: It’s very exciting. I got pretty much a desert queen. My hair and like this like crazy like french plait, but like bun thing on the top of my head, and all sorts. It was very exciting. It’s very cool, very cool. But so I’ve been very tired and now I’m questioning my decision about starting at six am.

Sarah: So how has your writing been going?

Ashley: I’ve actually been writing, which has been a great change. So probably since the last podcast Sarah and I finished creating all of our characters, which was quite a fun process. And quite an… it was a fairly interesting process too, you probably would have read about it in one of my blog posts. But because this book that we’re writing is historical fiction, there are a few characters in there that are based on actual historical figures. But also because it’s set so long ago, not a lot as known about these people. Like they don’t really know what they look like, and there’s not a lot about like, them as people. But we know what they did. So we’ve been trying to work out the type of person that they are from their actions which has been kind of fun, it’s been kind of like being a detective, sort of, trying to work back at what made the person how they are. Which is quite interesting. But since then we have been writing finally! So I got to writing the… writing the second chapter, I think Sarah’s already finished the first one.

Sarah: Yep.

Ashley: But it’s been quite an interesting experience because we’ve changed perspectives. So our whole teen fiction series is first person. Now we’ve switched to third person, which is was a little bit of an adjustment but not too bad. But then this character is also a, like a older male. So it’s a bit different as well than writing from a teenager. Writing from like an 18 year old boy and changing till 40 something year old man. It’s been a bit different. But it’s been… it’s been good. What about you, Sarah?

Sarah: So yeah, my writings been going fairly good, as we said, I have started the first chapter, and just finished it. I think I can probably say that we’re… our ancient Greece book that we’ve been doing is actually a time-travel Ancient Greece book. So, my character hasn’t… like I haven’t had as many issues with my character because she is from the modern time and in the present when I was writing the first chapter. So that wasn’t too disorientating. But Yeah, like it has been a real change doing an adult perspective. And I found that really hard as well.

Ashley: It’s really just some of the language that they use. I had to really, you know, consider choice of language. Whereas with the teen fiction I was so used to being able to write quite a youthful sort of vibe—

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: —into the book, and now the guy I’m writing, he’s also very politically savvy and all sorts of things. So, word choice has been sort of interesting and as Sarah said, mine’s set back in ancient Greece, which has also been a bit of a challenge. I had to, I probably spent a good seven hours of research in this chapter. Uh, which I didn’t really anticipate having to do. So that’s been that’s been a little bit of a challenge as well. Also stuff like, ah yes they’re walking down a hallway. I don’t think that they called them hallways, I should have a look and see what the Greek terminology for this is. Then like, spend like twenty minutes finding out like Greek architecture and what they would call it. And then be like ah no, it’s a Stoa. That’s what I want.

Sarah: A Stoa.

Ashley: Like an outdoor sort of like walkway.

Sarah: Yeah yeah.

Ashley: So, things… things like that that but now I know what it’s called. So, on another one, he… he was wearing his cloak, but it’s winter and I had to check if they had a different winter cloak and what the winter cloaks were made of.

Sarah: His hemation.

Ashley: Yes.

Sarah: Isn’t it?

Ashley: So I think they’re the same thing except—

Sarah: I think they’re made of wool, aren’t they?

Ashley: Yeah, so they… the winter ones are wool. But I wanted to check they were wool because I knew that the non wintery ones can be different material, so I checked that. So that was good. So things like that that I’ve been stumbling across, but hopefully it will get easier now that I know if that makes any sense. I also did double check they had lamps.

Sarah: Yep.

Ashley: Was like, do they have lamps? Do they have candles? What sort of… what’s the lighting situation going to be? Lamps, so it’s okay.

Sarah: Right.

Ashley: Things like that. So let’s move on to our main discussion for today, then. Which is all about injuries and inconsistencies in movies, TV shows, books, things like that. And I think both of us are fairly well qualified to talk about some of these things that crop up. Sarah is a nurse, which she can tell you a bit about.

Sarah: Yeah, I have been a nurse for I think it must be like five or six years or something. Well, I think about five years of actual clinical practice because I’ve had a bit of time off since moving to Canada, but I used to do operating room nursing. So, I do have quite a bit of knowledge about anatomy and physiology and what things actually look like and what… where the structures are. So that can be quite helpful for our book series. And, yeah. And Ashley, as you may know, is a researcher.

Ashley: From my blog post. And we’ve talked about it a bit. So, I have a… I have a PhD in chemistry. And I did a science degree. I actually did a biomedical… well medicinal chemistry degree. So my undergrad did focus like fairly heavily on physiology and pharmacology type things. So I do have a bit of knowledge about some aspects of medical things but I’m mostly quite well versed in the scientific realm. Especially chemistry, organic or inorganic if any of you know what that is. So, most of what I’ll be talking to you about will be later on in the podcast where we talk about how people represent science in TV and books and things. But yeah, so that’s a bit about our background. So hopefully we can get into the discussion now. I think Sarah had a little bit of a disclaimer she wanted to share?

Sarah: Oh yeah, that’s right. So I just wanted to say because we are talking about injuries and, you know, typically in a book as well they’re sustained with violence. So, it’s not like we’re going to talk about like gore, stuff like that. But just if you are a little bit queasy with that kind of stuff, um, you might want to sort of fast forward. Maybe to the mistakes of the month, and I’ll put the timestamp in the show notes so you know where that is.

Ashley: Yes, yes. Or you could probably you could probably make it to the scientific part at the end. Because I don’t think that’s going too…

Sarah: I’ll put both timestamps.

Ashley: Yeah, not too squeamishy.

Sarah: That’s true.

Ashley: Okay, so when I was… when I was planning out the show I sort of broke our discussion into two parts. So we’ll talk about injuries and how they portrayed in the media first. And then we’ll move on to talking about a little bit about science for the second half. And so I further broke the injuries down to kind of the main points, which seemed to be misrepresented I think. So we’ll start with… when I was doing some research for this topic, one of the common things that seem to crop up was the after-effects of an injury don’t match the injury that was sustained. So, for example, if a character is brutally knocked unconscious by the bad guy, they wake up and then like shake their head. They have no ill effects and you see them be like, oh my head hurts. When obviously there are some medical repercussions that can come from a brutal knock to the head. What do you have to say about that Sarah?

Sarah: I think I probably will cover this more about pet peeves a little bit later, but for us, in general if we feel a character sort of needs to be injured, we usually think about the best place to give them the injury and, you know, as a general rule, we find that limbs are pretty safe and easy to live with. Cause the closer you get to the torso, the more serious it’s going to get. You know, my advice for writing injuries and not having that that sort of discrepancy crop up with how a character copes with it afterwards is, when you’re writing an injury try to think about what’s lying underneath the skin. The abdomen’s sort of a pretty dangerous place to get wounded because not only is there a risk of your bowel being perforated if you’re lower down, or you know, there’s also your liver and your stomach and you know, there’s some really serious structures underneath in your abdomen area. Including your aorta which is your… distributes blood to your body as probably a lot of people already know. Yeah, so, and obviously the chest is pretty dangerous as well. But if you’re bored of wounding limbs, then my advice would be to go for the shoulder. Maybe the hip. But then you have to be careful that it’s like maybe the back of the hip or…

Ashley: Yeah yeah.

Sarah: You don’t wanna get someone’s ovaries, or…

Ashley: Oh my gosh. No. We had this exact problem actually, so in our third book, Darkness, Set Us Free, we have a character who needs to get shot. He’s a minor character so it’s not too big of a deal. But I needed him to bleed, but not to die. And needed to be serious enough that he would be removed from the scene. And luckily, we do have a doctor in that scene. So he’s able to sort of  tell… tell everyone what’s happening. So, because I’m not well versed in medicine or anything, I did do quite a bit of research into some surgery and field medicine journals, just to see the typical injuries that character—well, that people get—and what ones are survivable, and what ones are not. I picked one that is survivable, but does bleed a lot. So that was what we wanted, and then wrote that in. So it does help if you’re like me and not super well versed, it does help to find these things. And it’s not hard to actually find articles about surgery or field medicine, there’s a lot of them out there. And they’ll be like, gunshot wounds to shoulders, what to do and stuff like that. So I used a lot of those which is quite helpful.

Sarah: A lot of people, you know, even if you don’t have medical experience and you know, you don’t yourself, then a lot of people do have friends or family members who are nurses or doctors. And so, you know, you can always ask them for their opinion on something. Because, yeah. Chances are, you know, someone who’s in the medical field because it’s a pretty… pretty big… healthcare is a pretty big umbrella for careers. So…

Ashley: You’re bound to find someone who can help you out.

Sarah: Don’t just assume that it’ll be fine, no one will notice. Because that there is such a big amount of people who are employed in health care. You may find that your readers get a little bit annoyed, especially like… like I tend to do when I some across…

Ashley: They notice.

Sarah: Yes. Yeah, you can’t assume that your readers don’t have the knowledge behind them.

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: So I would do your best. Yeah.

Ashley: That’s a very good point. It’s not hard to do a little bit of research, just to check, you know. Outcomes from shoulder like gunshot wound to the abdomen… and then you’ll very quickly find out that maybe that’s not the best place to give someone a quick recoverable gunshot wound.

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: So maybe we’ll move on now. So, there’s something to be said about the after-effects of injury. So when you get injured—I am well aware of this, I’ve been injured many times—it does take quite a mental toll on your characters, and how they think, how they feel. I definitely find that like personally when I’ve injured myself—I currently have, I still have my arm in a cast. Um, it is… there is a mental toll that it takes. What do you think Sarah?

Sarah: Definitely is a mental toll, even if it’s a fairly minor injury. My sort of experience is that people feel a bit vulnerable, more vulnerable than usual. And I see there’s sort of a tendency in fiction and in TV shows where characters just get up and carry on like it’s nothing. And you know like we… we ourselves are probably guilty of doing that, to a certain extent, and you can get away with a certain amount, but, people often feel frustrated about not being able to achieve something that used to be easy for them. They feel like a burden, or they might feel guilty about how they got the wound, like they should have done something to prevent it, especially if they were doing something a little bit stupid before hand.

Ashley: Yes, yes.

Sarah: I personally have felt this as well. And embarrassment can be huge. And you know, I was once nursing a woman who had broken ankle, because I used to do a lot of orthopedic theatre nursing. She just was so embarrassed about it. You know, I went up to say hi to her and help her through, and she… obviously she couldn’t have done anything about it. It was just an accident, but she felt so embarrassed about rolling her ankle on like the curb and I don’t know how many listeners will know about, like, you know, those really square curbs? Like it was in Newmarket in Auckland. Their curbs are like terrible. And so I could totally understand, you know, just slipping and yeah, twisting your ankle. And she was unfortunate enough to have it fracture. But, you know, she just felt so embarrassed about it. And even when it’s bad luck, these are the types of thoughts that people have, and people can be really vulnerable. And if they don’t blame themselves, sometimes they can blame others around them. It’s just those kinds of things, of how people make sense of what’s happened to them. And because that happens in real life, you really want to be instilling that into your books and having your characters go through that as well. So you do have to be aware of the mental part of having an injury and how that affects you. What would you have to add on that Ashley?

Ashley: No, I definitely agree. Especially with the point of having frustration when you’re injured and not being able to do things that you usually can do. I’m currently going through that right now because I’ve had this cast on for almost a month now. And before that, I was in a brace and I’m used to… well, one, I work in a lab. So I haven’t actually been up to do any lab work which has been really frustrating. Because it’s like one of those simple things that I do every day that I bas—I basically can’t do it at all. And then I really enjoy swimming and I’m not allowed to swim. I’m not allowed to do so many things and it’s… I’ve been very frustrated this week, really, really frustrated about that. And then also the embarrassment, because you know people… I’m wearing a cast and they ask me like, oh, how did you do that? Did you like fall? Break your arm? And I’m like, nah. I picked up my puppy. And it’s one of those like… super embarrassed. I can’t, like, it’s not something I can change or anything. And I feel we weren’t very good at the start of writing books of bringing that into our characters.

Sarah: No.

Ashley: They tend to get injured and they’re like, oh no, I’ve been injured. And I think—

Sarah: Like, ow that hurt!

Ashley: In the moment I think you can get away with it because you could chalk it up to adrenaline or something, right, that they manage to get up and escape, even though they’ve been, I don’t know, shot or, you know, they fall over, whatever. But we weren’t very good at after that has sort of passed, having any sort of reaction, except for, oh that hurts. And then it kind of gets forgotten about in the rest of the [subsequent] chapters so… We were definitely not best at that in the past. And I think we’ve gotten better though.

Sarah: Yes.

Ashley: We added a lot in, and it’s probably one of the main things we added in, when we redid the edits in—well, actually all of the books. Was adding a lot more about the injuries that they had sustained and you know what they thought about it, and their recovery, and all sorts of things like that, which I think is added to the book.

Sarah: Yeah, definitely. I remember there was one part that, before we revised the series, when it went from like the end of one book, to the start of the next book, we totally forgot that the character had a broken arm.

Ashley: Yes!

Sarah: She just like magically… her arm’s fine, there’s no cast, there’s no nothing. And yeah, so don’t do that.

Ashley: We did it twice! Okay… I’ll share this other one because the injury’s been removed now, so I think I can share it. Because we have one at the end of one book, Levi breaks his hand.

Sarah: Oh? I can’t even remember that.

Ashley: You don’t remember? He breaks his hand—

Sarah: Oh no wait, no I do. That’s right. He broke his thumb.

Ashley: He breaks his hand punching the shoulder—soldier. Oh my god, I can’t even talk today. And then he’s like cradling it and it’s quite—we made quite a big deal about that at the end of the book and then, at the start of the second book he’s magically healed. His hand’s totally fine. And then I think he went on to punch another character. Or he was punched. I can’t remember that’s been removed now but yeah. Not great.

Sarah: The thing about that, though, is it never used to be… like it didn’t even used to be a divide between books because we changed kind of where the end and the start… And so it was like we got over that chapter, and then totally forgot about it because I don’t think it was in the following chapters it all.

Ashley: It may have been mentioned, like one time. Someone was like, oh yeah, he had a broken hand. We totally removed it. We removed it. So it’s okay I think, to share.

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: That’s quite funny.

Sarah: If you do too many injuries and everyone’s like ugh. You know, makes them seem impervious to injury.

Ashley: Yes. That kind of fits in quite well with the next topic, which would be having realistic recovery timelines. So I feel like this is something that everyone makes mistake doing. Where, unless in your world, you have someone with a magical ability that can heal people, people seem to recover miraculously really quick in TV shows and books. And I have injured myself enough times to know that it takes forever to actually heal and be able to do the things that you were able to do before the injury.

Sarah: Definitely.

Ashley: What do you think?

Sarah: I think it does depend on what the injury is. We did have one of our beta readers… she thought it hadn’t been long enough for this injury and I kind of looked at it, and I was like, well, actually, you know, it was just a soft tissue injury. Which, you know, they generally heal in a couple of weeks, you know, maybe four weeks tops. Even… even if it’s quite a serious soft tissue injury, like you generally expect repair sort of within that time period. But you know it did kind of point out to us that we probably hadn’t highlighted the time like it, maybe even moved like so subtly through—ugh that was weird. The way I said that. Subtly? Subtly? Sorry, yeah—so I don’t think we made it like obvious enough that—

Ashley: Right.

Sarah: —time had passed. So that was helpful for her to mention it anyways. But in general, you know, limbs or bones will take six to eight to ten weeks to heal depending on you know what type of fracture it is. And so you do have to take that into account. But if you’re struggling with time, you know, think about giving your character a bit of time off to recover and time skip into the future and you know sometimes all it takes is a line or two to achieve it like, two weeks crawled by. Something like that.

Ashley: Yes, we’ve used that quite a few times. But it helps I think, because we were worr—in a couple parts we have been worried that they’re healing too fast for the injuries that they have. So it’s, yeah. We did quite a bit of work trying to, I guess, stretch time out a bit more in some of those chapters.

Sarah: Yeah. You know, we were writing action adventure thriller. So everything always seems to happen like really fast. Like, bang, bang, bang. And then, so trying to slow it down and have them recover from the injuries can be quite a challenge when you have a pace that’s that fast.

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: But it can be done within a few sentences.

Ashley: Yes. Yes. And also, it’s not hard to look up how long it takes for something to heal and managed to put that in, or if it’s going to take too long. Maybe you need to reconsider the injury you have given your character. Right?

Sarah: Yes. Yeah.

Ashley: Like maybe a broken arm isn’t going to work for you. So maybe you sprain instead…

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: Which can have… it can… like sprains really hurt for those first couple weeks. Like, it can definitely impede your character enough to possibly have that kind of effect.

Sarah: Although, I would say a warning about ah… ligaments and sprains, there’s a difference between sprains and strains. But one of them is when you hurt the muscle. The other one’s when you pull like a tendon and ligament. If you do a partial tear to like a ligament or tendon just be aware that they take a really long time for them to heal, because they don’t have a very good blood supply. So…

Ashley: Hello, cast. Not a great thing to do to yourself.

Sarah: Yeah, so, you know, Straining a muscle, like that’s gonna heal fairly quick. But, you know, pulling a ligament is going to be a bit longer. So you do need to be aware of that.

Ashley: Just check which one you’re going to inflict on a character.

Sarah: Yeah you know like, as Ashley said, it is very easy to look up healing times for that kind of thing. Usually, you will find something on the internet have some doctor’s advice to their patients from their practice, that’ll be like, so, if you have hurt yourself this way you can expect that it might take two or three weeks before your back to your regular activities, or I don’t know. Something like that.

Ashley: I liked that you just put on a web Dr. voice.

Sarah: Dr. Voice. Web MD.

Ashley: I guess this kind of loosely covers keeping your injuries consistent throughout your book as well. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to point out, but we have definitely been guilty of not keeping the injuries we give our characters consistent throughout. I distinctly remember one particular injury that migrated from calf to thigh, back down to the calf again. And it’s amazing how much editing that actually takes to fix, because you start to fix it and you’re like, oh, no, it is a thigh injury. And you start to fix it, and then you missed some. So suddenly you have 90% of the references are to the thigh. Which you’ve changed, then you’ve missed a couple calf ones and then you just have a magically moving injury. So I distinctly remember that one.

Sarah: Yeah. One character we had… was it like, wrist, arm, hand…

Ashley: Yes, wrist arm hand. And then forgetting… forgetting the injury also. So in one chapter, there’ll be perfectly fine walking normally. And the next chapter, someone has remembered that they’re injured and have them limping around, like the leg injury. Ow, limping. And then… yeah. So, be really careful and it’s surprisingly easy to forget.

Sarah: Yes.

Ashley: About injuries.

Sarah: Very easy.

Ashley: And yeah, the number of times that I have forgotten certain characters are injured, you go back and like, oh, that’s right, they’re injured, they can’t actually do this.

Sarah: When we started the third book, and I get this text from Ashley.

Ashley: Well, I was like, Grace is still injured, right?

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: Pretty much. What, how—how long has gone by? How injured is she still? What can we…?

Sarah: I had to put in a timeline and say, okay, so we’re gonna have her recovered by this point. So that we were both clear because it gets really confusing when you’re like, I don’t even know how much time has gone by now. Yeah, it’s very hard when you know your characters don’t even really know exactly how much time has gone by because…

Ashley: Yeah. The situation they’re in.

Sarah: And I would also… the other thing I was going to mention was that you should probably take into account with the healing and stuff whether your character can make it to medical care. That might dictate what type of injury you give your character because for ours, our characters, there is no hospital for them to go to. Or not one that they can really feasibly use without having massive consequences for them, considering they’re in a war and they don’t want to get caught.

Ashley: Yes.

Sarah: So, ah, just think about if you’re going to do a major injury, can they make it to a hospital?

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: Or can they, you know, or are you going to have to have like someone in the field who can fix them. Yeah.

Ashley: Does one of your characters have some sort of medical knowledge? Maybe like us you conveniently make one of them a doctor. To help.

Sarah: Have one experimenting on the others.

Ashley: Yes, or that, or that. Oh dear. Alright, so, um, do you have any specific scenes from TV shows or examples from books that have really frustrated you in the past with how they depict injuries or any other sort of medical event?

Sarah: I have quite a few. It really frustrates me when I’m watching TV and Dan is like, okay, okay. I didn’t write the show. Just calm down. And I’m like, but you don’t understand! So we watched one a little while ago where a character was shot in the torso, and he had blood coming from his mouth and they took him to hospital and stuff. And everyone’s like, oh my Lord, he’s gonna die. And they took him to hospital. But then in hospital when they’re visiting him, they then said, well, fortunately, it didn’t hit any major organs. And I was like, I’m pretty sure there’s only two paths blood can take to come out your mouth from your torso. One is if you vomited it up from your stomach. Or number two is if you’re shot in the lung and, you know, it’s bubbling up from your trachea. So, either way, those are pretty major places to be wounded.

Ashley: Those are very major.

Sarah: So I was like, sure, it hit no major organs.

Ashley: But you were bleeding from the mouth. Cool.

Sarah: Another thing that really irks me because I’ve recently done a… a bit of study on maternity and neonatal care. And this one happens all the time. And it’s, it’s getting to the point where I just get really frustrated. It’s always in comedies where… you know like comedies, where there’ll be a pregnant woman, and she’ll be just about to give birth and her waters will break all over the floor on someone’s like, you know, priceless rug or something. And they’ll be like, oh my god, your waters broke, you have to go to hospital. In real life… waters—most of the time, like occasionally they do break ahead of going into labor—but it’s not usually the first sign. Usually waters break in hospital, once you’re in established labor, having contractions and sometimes the nurse even has to break them herself. And yeah, so that one really annoys me. And then, the prize to the worst one goes to Grey’s Anatomy. Usually they’re pretty good but there was one episode I was watching, and I have a strange feeling it might be in… I don’t… I don’t know this for sure. So don’t quote me on it. But I think it might be in this episode, where like a bomb is like in a patient’s body or something?

Ashley: Okay.

Sarah: And so they’re doing—

Ashley: This already sounds dramatic.

Sarah: They’re doing surgery to take it out.

Ashley: Oh my gosh, okay.

Sarah: Um, so, you know, everyone’s really tense because they like, oh my god, the bomb’s going to go off, or I don’t know. I seem to remember a bomb being involved in this episode. Anyways, I was looking at this patient on operating table. And I was like, your patient’s dying because it they’ve got a general anesthetic and they weren’t intubated. So they didn’t have a breathing tube at all. They didn’t have any oxygen or any mask.

Ashley: Oh my god. Really, like oh no!

Sarah: They were lying there with their like face totally uncovered. Like, if you have a general anesthetic you have something that’s called a muscle relaxant, you know, so that you don’t…

Ashley: Move.

Sarah: Yeah, move. And then the general anesthetic means you don’t feel it and that you’re asleep. So, because you have a muscle relaxant, you know, you can’t… your breathing muscles don’t work. And so you need a tube down to be able to breathe properly, so that really bothered me.

Ashley: I can, I can see that. You’re watching like, he’s dying, doesn’t matter that you’re trying to save him by removing the bomb. He’s gonna die! He can’t breathe!

Sarah: Pretty much. The patient’s dead.

Ashley: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. I can understand why you would get frustrated watching these sorts of shows. I don’t watch a lot of medical shows.

Sarah: I don’t anymore, really. Because Dan doesn’t really like them. We have like a, you know, a kind of like merging kind of list of likes and medical dramas are not within that realm.

Ashley: They don’t cross into that. James and I have the same thing. Like I love murder mysteries and crime drama, and James hates crime drama.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s one… we tend to watch crime drama cause that’s one of our things that merges.

Ashley: So, that doesn’t merge for us. We don’t… don’t watch them anymore. Which is probably… given how frustrated I get watching them that’s probably a good thing anyways. But yeah did you have anything else you wanted to mention about injuries, anything else you wanted to add?

Sarah: No, I mean, there’s always more examples, but I think three is totally enough.

Ashley: You’re like, three is enough.

Sarah: We’ll just leave it at that.

Ashley: Okay. Sounds good. Alright, so we can um, we’ll move on to some scientific inaccuracies now and I kind of already… I already just alluded to it. I cannot stand the—basically, I can’t stand crime dramas. Usually they’re fine but it’s once they, you know, they find this mysterious substance on the window sill, and they take a swab and someone runs it back to the lab and they put it in the fancy looking machine and then it goes like, beep, beep, beep and then it comes out with either like a name of a compound. And they’re like, oh yes, it’s this poison. Or, it comes up with the structure on the screen and like, oh, yes, this makes sense. It doesn’t work like that at all. And I cannot stand it anymore. So it’s a person’s job to be a lab tech, and I use all of the same equipment in my job because we often make new compounds and we don’t know what they are. And then we have to use these machines to work out, you know what they could be and it is a very lengthy process. And it actually requires training because the lab techs, they need to understand how the machine works and the outputs you get a not a name or a structure. It’s usually some sort of… I’m going to say for simplicity’s sake, say, a graph or a readout. And then that gives you the characteristics of the compound which you then need to combine all the different data together to get a picture of what the molecule is or the chemical is whatever it is. And this usually takes days, not minutes to start with. And yeah, I feel like these shows. They just don’t… they don’t give a good representation of what it’s actually like and it frustrates me. It just frustrates me. You could… it sounds really dumb, but what when you work with these machines you wish they worked like they do in these crime dramas, because it would make your life so much easier. If I could take a random compound I’m making the lab, and pop it in a machine and then it’s like, oh it’s this! It would save—well, you wouldn’t even need me. You wouldn’t need me. My job would be basically…

Sarah: Be made redundant.

Ashley: Redundant. Because the machine could do it. But the machines can’t do it.

Sarah: I’m just gonna say that, it kind of makes me think of… so when I was small before GPS’ were a thing. I remember talking to my dad and mom when driving, and I was sitting in the back. I was like, so those arrows, do they tell you where to go? With like, the indicators. And my dad just laughed so hard and he’s like, I wish it told me. Which obviously now we have the GPS. So, you know, maybe I was just ahead of the times. But, that’s kind of one it makes me think of, you know, like you just expect it to suddenly magically happen.

Ashley: Yeah, no, it’s with everything, though, even though you know they take that soil sample from the shoe and they put the soil sample in the machine. And they’re like, oh, yes, it’s from this random mountain range like a way over here. Well, you can’t possibly know that unless someone has gone to that mountain range, took a sample, and then compared both samples to see if they’re are a match. They can’t just tell you where it’s from.

Sarah: Or, it’s from this era.

Ashley: Or water samples as well. They take a sample and they’re like, oh yes. It’s from this lake, definitely, definitely.

Sarah: Yeah, definitely.

Ashley: How do you know that? Have you been to the lake? Have you tested it?

Sarah: It’s got this type of micro-organism which is only in this lake. How do you know that?

Ashley: Exactly. It’s very frustrating. Anyways, but the one that gets me the most is, I’m a chemist, so I draw a lot of chemical structures in my daily life. And these chemical structures, there are certain rules that you have to follow, and you would have learned this when you did like year 13 chemistry. Like carbons can only have four bonds. Oxygen can only have—generally speaking—they can only have two. You know, things like that. And then you get to these TV shows and you know there’s this big whiteboard in the background. And they’ve drawn up all these chemical compounds on there. And then you look at them and they are entirely wrong and more often than not, they are so wrong they physically can’t exist. And it’s honestly… I actually… as much as it frustrates me, it’s one of my favorite things to pause the shows and I’ll look at it. We call them… we call them Texas carbons when they have five bonds. And they’re only supposed to have four. So I’ll be like, oh, I see five Texas carbons. I see an oxygen with three bonds and no like, countercharges or whatever. I see all the… this, this can’t exist. This literally can’t exist. And you’re trying to make yourselves look smart by putting up these compounds.

Sarah: Yeah I feel like that’s what’s ironic right?

Ashley: Yeah. It’s entirely incorrect!

Sarah: You’re trying to make the characters look smart. And the characters are just like, and here on the board…

Ashley: It’s not hard to check…

Sarah: No.

Ashley: Don’t even get me started when the compound structure doesn’t match the name.

Sarah: What?

Ashley: You can literally google the name of the compound, go into Wikipedia and it will be there. And you just have to copy it. It’s not hard. But no, but no, they insist on like putting up their own compounds and you’re like, one they’re wrong. Two they don’t match the name and you’re like, it’s not hard. Or get someone to check it. It’s not hard to have a chemist, even from undergrad, have a look and be like, that’s incorrect. Just stop. Those are my two, my two big issues. [huffs]. And I was speaking before about before about the machines. I no longer watch Big Bang Theory, because Sheldon Cooper in one of the… I think it’s Sheldon? Might not be Sheldon. It might be um, might be Leonard. One of them. They are talking about a machine. I think it was… I think it was mass spectrometry. And they give a brief blurb to the audience about how it works. And it was so wrong that I turned it off, and I haven’t watched it since. Like you can’t even… so you can get the physics, right, you can get the biology right. But for some reason, you just to have decided the chemistry part doesn’t even matter. So yeah, they talk about the machine. It’s entirely wrong in the description. Like, it can’t do that. It literally can’t do that. So I no longer watch it after that moment. Took me right out of the… right out of the show. And I was like, no, I’m out.

Sarah: So, I think the takeaway from all of this is that… look things up and research them because especially when it comes to the… to the equations they’re quite simple to have a look at and copy it out.

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: Equations. I’ve got the wrong word for that. Molecules.

Ashley: I know what you mean. Like chemical structures and things like that. Unless you’re trying to make up some crazy molecule that doesn’t exist. In that case, maybe just ask a scientist to draw one for you. It’s not hard to find one.

Sarah: And you can even talk to… you can you can talk to us about like…

Ashley: Yeah, for sure.

Sarah: About injuries or chemistry if you’re kind of writing in that field. Yeah.

Ashley: For sure. I can definitely point you in the right direction, but yeah. Get it right. People notice they do. And you might think that, oh, it’s just like some sciencey thing, you know, if I put in some fancy words, people won’t notice. But I almost think that’s worse sometimes.

Sarah: Yes, I agree.

Ashley: Make sure you understand it first before you write it.

Sarah: I feel like it makes your characters less believable and less smart. Which is usually the opposite of what you’re going for. So.

Ashley: For sure. Yes, exactly. Alrighty. Should we move on to our mistakes of the month?

Sarah: Yes.

Ashley: Alrighty. Do you want to go first Sarah?

Sarah: Yeah, so I had one, I had one this month. It was actually doing the character sheets or doing some research or something, cause I was writing down some notes, and I’m sure like, every—most people use the QWERTY keyboard. So, you may have noticed that the ‘F’ is right next to the ‘G’ and I was trying to write out the word Greek. And I put an ‘F’ instead.

Ashley: Oh no!

Sarah: So, I have to apologize to any Greek listeners out there. I did not mean to have any ancient freaks in the book.

Ashley: Oh my gosh, yes. Did it auto correct? Like, F R E A K as well?

Sarah: No! It didn’t, because apparently freek as in F R E E K is actually a word as well.

Ashley: Oh, is it?

Sarah: It’s kind of like a play on like, F R E A K or something. I can’t remember exactly what it means.

Ashley: I’m going to Google it right now.

Sarah: Okay.

Ashley: Urban Dictionary tells me a freek is a person that’s too weird to be a freak.

Sarah: Oh my god. So, that was why it didn’t actually underline, either, because apparently it’s a it’s an urban word. A new one.

Ashley: That’s so funny.

Sarah: A freek!

Ashley: You’re looking over and you’re like, ah. So because I’ve only just started writing a new chapter I haven’t found any mistakes yet. So I thought I would share a few that come from newspaper—well not the newspaper. The online articles. So I have a massive, massive pet peeve of reporters getting… like making mistakes in their writing that goes on articles on online news sites. It frustrates me beyond all measure, because surely they have an editor who checks it. Like, surely. And often the mistakes are incredibly obvious and I’m like, why has no one picked this up? Like there was one example, which really… it was actually really insensitive as well. And I remember it clearly. So, I used to… I used to follow the stuff website which is—if you’re not from New Zealand—it’s like an online news…

Sarah: News.

Ashley: Site, basically. And then I switched to the New Zealand Herald because the Stuff website was so riddled with errors, almost every single article had one, that I couldn’t read them anymore. So, I moved to the New Zealand Herald thinking, hey, you know, these are also in a newspaper so surely these are going to be better quality. And within the first week of switching, this happened. So, I don’t know if you all remember a while ago we had the volcanic eruption of White Island.

Sarah: Yep.

Ashley: Okay, unfortunately quite a few people passed away, and they had a picture of one person who had passed away. And they had the wrong caption—

Sarah: Oh dear.

Ashley: —which described him as the mayor of Whakatane. Who was very, you know, upset that people had died so they had the picture of the deceased person with the wrong caption of the mayor, and I was like this is like this is… at this point, you can’t like, that’s really insensitive, like someone should check that. And that really irritated me. And then not too long afterwards—sorry, I just get my phone so I can read it to you. And they were talking about. Millennials, basically, and they were saying is—I can read it to you. So it says, “a survey last month by Bauer media’s insights IQ of almost 450 parents showed 21% of respondents had one or more millennial children currently living at home with another 12% saying one could return at any time.” Then in brackets underneath, they say, “Millennials were defined as those born between January 1980, and December 1996.” In brackets, “now aged 18 to 39.” Which is an incorrect age. So 1990—this was from this article is from 2019. And 1996 to 2019 is not 18 years. It is 23 years. And I was like, where does this come from? Has someone not checked the math? And it’s not hard to look at it and be like, hey, that’s really wrong. Check the math! So I um, I tend to take screenshots. Oh, here’s one. So this is another one. This is from the 11th of December 2019. And this is another article about White Island. And it says, quote, “if that call does ever come through, he said, he’s be back in a heartbeat.” I’m like, great. He’s be back. He’s be back. I don’t understand it makes no sense. Like, surely, people can pick these up. Really sorry, I have a massive pet peeve with it.

Sarah: I just don’t understand, like surely… like you’d think…

Ashley: Do people honestly not check? Like a simple read through would be enough.

Sarah: You’d think like spell check or even software would pick that up.

Ashley: Yeah. He’s be back.

Sarah: Because mine always underlines the grammatical inconsistency line. Whenever… whenever something like happens to me.

Ashley: As much as I hate Grammarly—because, oh, it’s good but it doesn’t pick up everything and irritates me—it would pick that up. These people should at least be using Grammarly. But yes.

Sarah: I guess I get so many like independent freelance writers these days. And so, it’s not like newspaper necessarily edits… mind you they should still have an editor though, for their site.

Ashley: They should check it. Someone should be checking it, like it’s your job. It is your job.

Sarah: Too many articles for them to edit because now, you know, there’s a new one every three minutes and they just like zoom them out and they’re out in the world… incorrectly.

Ashley: I’ve decided that I have forgiven the people who do the live news feeds, because those are riddled with errors, but I’ve decided it’s a live feed. So, they’re going to make you know, typos. So I’ve gotten over… I’ve gotten over that. But for the ones that actually are proper stories that have been published, I can’t. I just can’t. It’s not okay, it’s not okay. Anyways…

Sarah: Yeah. It’s so hard to find a good newspaper these days, or news blog.

Ashley: I know.

Sarah: My favorite for New Zealand lately has been The Spinoff.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Sarah: But, it’s rather opinion focused. It’s not really… they are quite funny though, and they usually quite well edited, I find, but yeah, it’s more of an opinion based thing, than an actual, like, news…

Ashley: Yes.

Sarah: Mind you, that’s everything these days. So I don’t know.

Ashley: Yes. That’s very true. Yes, so if anyone works in the media industry, please, please, please spell check your work because people notice. People notice. My friend and I, we’ve been thinking we should start a Facebook page just of these mistakes found in The Herald and stuff. Because she does the same thing, she screenshots them and she’ll send them to me, she’ll be like, look what they did today. And then one day… so there’s a lot of content for the newspaper mistakes on Facebook that page that we could make. Alrighty. Anything else you want to add about mistakes to the month?

Sarah: Not really.

Ashley: Not really?

Sarah: Just been, you know, we’re still… trying to think. Well, it’s not really a mistake, but probably the only other thing that I’ve been doing, which I haven’t mentioned is that I’ve been editing my own book which have kind of tentatively titled The Night I Lost My Mind.

Ashley: That’s a cool title.

Sarah: But I had to gender flip two characters.

Ashley: Weird, but okay.

Sarah: Because I realized that one of my characters was minority character and it was the only character who was a minority character in th whole book, and they were portrayed in a fairly bad light. And then I also realized that the… I sort of mistakenly added to a bad trope. So I was like, oh, how can I fix this. And I was like, well, works if I change this character’s gender. But then I didn’t want the book to be like overbalanced in favor of one gender.

Ashley: Right, fair enough.

Sarah: So I was like, well, I’ll change this one too then. So I changed two characters and it’s just, it’s interesting to note, like how many different mannerisms, just are generally attributed to different sexes. Like, when you realize how much you do it, it’s kind of disturbing in some ways. Because I was like, whoa, clearly this stuff is more ingrained in my brain than what I ever thought it was because you know like, there’s things like girls giggling and guys chuckling. And I’m overlapping to my blog post that’s coming out on Monday but yeah, it’s just… I’m like why can’t guys giggle? I want to start a movement, you know, real men giggle.

Ashley: That’s amazing.

Sarah: Yeah, just like hashtag it, make a whole thing out of it.

Ashley: Yes, yes.

Sarah: Instead of real men wear pink, it’s real men giggle.

Ashley: I think they do. Everyone giggles.

Sarah: I think they do. It’s just, you know, your view of it, like, and because you know in other writing and fiction, it’s not often that you read about men or guys giggling. So it seems really strange when you have a character do that, but it shouldn’t be strange, right? So.

Ashley: No. Anyone can giggle.

Sarah: That was something that I noted, but you know there’s a whole lot of other… whole host of other things that—

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: —I’ve kind of noted. So that’s something interesting that’s not really a mistake, but yeah.

Ashley: It’s sounds like it’d be quite a challenge to pick up on all of them. Like, I assume you’re gonna go through and find some that you’ve missed and that will be quite hilarious.

Sarah: Oh, probably. But then it’s also like trying to work out whether I should take them out? Like, some of them, I’m like, yeah, I just don’t really see the character doing it. So I’ve taken them out and replace them with different um…

Ashley: Something that they would do.

Sarah: Mannerisms.

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: But, at the same time, yeah, because it’s making me more aware of the type of mannerisms that I attribute to like, genders, I almost want to go against it and be like, no, you know what, it’s okay for a guy to curl up on the couch. So yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see how it turns out. I might you know… it will probably end up being heavily edited and, who knows, because I probably will try and get traditionally published, so I’m sure they’ll have their take on it if they ever decide to take it on as well, about whether it’s okay. So, I don’t know what it’s gonna end up looking like, but it’s, it’s interesting. It has been challenging.

Ashley: Well that’s cool. It think it’s cool.

Sarah: Yeah. So what are we doing next month? Next month’s our Christmas podcast, right?

Ashley: Yes, it is. It is. So we are going to talk about some passages from our favorite books and what we think makes them great or amazing which I’m actually quite excited about. Be a bit of a change from what we usually do.

Sarah: Yes, yeah. Just to clarify, we were going to read out some of our own excerpts as well from our books weren’t we? Were we?

Ashley: Yup, we can do that as well.

Sarah: But yeah, we’re going to have a bit more of a reading and a fun time next time. So, um yeah.

Ashley: Yeah.

Sarah: Join us for the Christmas episode.

Ashley: Yes, it should be fun, because we’ll get… it will be a bit lighter than what we usually talk about. So I’m excited. I’m excited.

Sarah: Me too. I’m excited for the end of the year. I mean, it’s been fun creatively this year, but I’m sure everyone’s over 2020 already.

Ashley: Although…

Sarah: Cause I mean, you think about how excited everyone was at the start of the year.

Ashley: I know.

Sarah: 2020!

Ashley: I know, I know. I have to… I always remember, I was looking back at some old blog posts, because I was wondering if we’d been doing it a year yet. Um, I think it’s soon.

Sarah: I think we have. Yeah.

Ashley: So I was looking back, and I saw one that was like 2020, and I was like, all about how it was a New Year and like exciting new things ahead. And I was like, hmm, well that’s very optimistic considering if I wrote one for 2021 I’ll be like, it just has to be slightly better than 2020. Although I was reading… I was reading an article and I can’t remember which terrible news site it was on, but it was talking about how 2021 might be worse than 2020 and I was like, don’t put this out there. People have hope that 2021’s gonna be better. Why is it like…

Sarah: How dare you!

Ashley: Yeah, it was like the world could possibly end. Like we thought 2020 was bad. Imagine… it was going on about like famine and all this other stuff.

Sarah: Oh my god.

Ashley: And I was like, you know what? Very good point.

Sarah: That’s real like, doomsday.

Ashley: Yeah. And I was like, good point. Now is maybe not the time. Like everyone just wants 2020 to be over. Don’t put this…

Sarah: I’m an optimist. And to be honest, I look at 2020 and even though it has been hard—and I’m sure like I really… my heart goes out to everyone who has had a really hard year that’s worse than mine because I know that mine has, you know, I’ve been very lucky, generally speaking, But you know, you do have to look at the good side and we were very creative this year and we’ve… even though we haven’t published books yet, we sort of finished wrapping up our other two ones we’ve looked at. We’ve completed Darkness, Set Us Free and we’ve started a new one. Um, so I think we’ve done very well you know. And I’m looking forward to it.

Ashley: Yeah. Creatively, it’s definitely been… well, to be honest, having the time to be creative and actually getting things done has been a great… I guess… I’m trying to think of the right word.

Sarah: Unintended side-effect?

Ashley: Escape. Escape from what 2020 has offered so far. So that’s good.

Sarah: Yes.

Ashley: Apart from that, I’d like to think 2021 will be better, but we shall see.

Sarah: Actually, just talking of next time’s podcast. What I think we should do, as well, is have some goals ready for what our goals are going to be for 2021.

Ashley: Okay.

Sarah: And obviously we’re working on stuff together, but if we make our separate goals I think it will be interesting to share them and see how that goes. Yeah.

Ashley: And then it’s out in the world. So then we have to stick to them, right?

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: You can check up on us and be like, Ashley, have you done your goals? I’ll be like no, I’m sorry! But I will, because the pressure’s on.

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: Alrighty, so if any of you guys have any mistakes of the month. Please, please, please send them in. We would love to hear some of your mistakes and it’s a very friendly environment. We won’t mock you or anything.

Sarah: No, we only mock ourselves.

Ashley: Exactly.

Sarah: And newspapers.

Ashley: And everybody makes mistakes—and news—well they’re being paid to do it.

Sarah: Yeah.

Ashley: And they have editors to check it. And they’re only like 1000 words. Come on, people.

Sarah: So, if you want to get ahold of us, you can contact us on our website,, as per usual. Ah, we also have Instagram and Facebook @lindersoncreations, and I’m often on Instagram these days, so you will probably get a fairly instantaneous response. And, yeah, so if you like this podcast and you want to hear more from us… I mean, we’re going to keep doing it anyways, for the time being, but it would help us a lot if you review the show on whatever podcatcher you use, and rate it. And yeah, so thank you guys for listening and I hope you enjoyed this episode, we’ll see you all next time. Happy writing everyone!