Of all the writers' groups I belong to on Facebook, one has proved especially helpful for my work: Trauma Fiction. If you plan to injure your characters beyond scrapes, bruises, or other treatable-at-home injuries, I highly recommend joining this group. The admin and at least some members are current or former medical professionals, so you can get excellent advice on realistically portraying whatever oddly specific ailments and medical care you might want to inflict on your characters. 😁
For instance, my WIP takes place in a medieval fantasy setting. My protagonist's father takes an arrow to the shoulder (not knee, sorry 😉) shortly before the climactic battle. Only some of his medical care takes place "onscreen," but I'd done some research about how medieval doctors might treat this kind of injury, so I felt confident in what I'd written for those scenes. But as I was writing the scene in which the father and the protagonist reunite after the battle, I ran into a problem. The shoulder can be a tricky spot to wrap, so how would someone bandage that kind of injury? I didn't know what to put in my descriptions.
So I put the question to Trauma Fiction. And boy, am I glad I did.
See, I'd originally had the arrow lodge under the victim's collarbone. What I didn't know until a fellow group member pointed it out is that that area is home to the subclavian artery. Which is not something you want to rupture on a character who's supposed to live beyond the next few minutes.
That response and others led me to do more research about arrow injuries. In turn, what I learned helped me fix other inaccurate or unrealistic details in my story. Now I think I've beaten up this character enough to keep him out of the fighting but not enough to kill him or permanently ruin his shoulder, which is what I wanted in the first place. (Shoulders, it turns out, are both surprisingly fragile and devilishly difficult to fix.)
So the next time you need to beat up a character, try adding Trauma Fiction to your research sources. It can make a big difference.
P.S. I'm curious—what's the weirdest injury you've ever inflicted on a character? Tell me in the comments.
(Thanks to Brian Patrick Tagalog for sharing their work on Unsplash.)