An Author’s Crutch

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 200Hello, my name is Dellani and I’m an author. I’m here today because I have a writing crutch. Admit it. Be honest with yourself – we all have them. They differ from one to the next, but we all have our little “things” that we do. It’s our safety net.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but mine is the hospital. Just when things seem to be going well, someone breaks a leg, has an asthma attack, gives birth, has a heart attack, gets beaten up, nearly drowns or has a car accident.

Looking through my finished (and unfinished) books, I took a count of how many of my stories involve someone being in the hospital or receiving medical attention. Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I counted them up. Of the 104 novels/ novellas & short stories(finished and unfinished) polled: 62 involved someone receiving medical attention. 42 do not. The actual number of stories was 115, but 11 of them, I couldn’t remember definitively if there was medical aid rendered or not, so I didn’t include them in the final count.

That’s a lot of broken bones, babies, accidents, shootings, stabbings, amputations, near drownings, head injuries, heart attacks, beatings, surgeries or asthma attacks! I have a very unfortunate number of characters.

I guess this is my version of Raymond Chandler’s plot crutch. “When in doubt, make a guy come through the door with a gun in his hand.” Only mine would be, “When in doubt, send someone to the hospital.”

I try to get away from it. Really, I do! I have rewritten more than one story to avoid it, but they keep coming back again and again. Of course, it doesn’t help that several of my stories involve medical people. Then there are the ones that involve the every day Joe becoming a hero. Of course, he’s going to get hurt. That’s a given.

Just ask any of my heroes. They will tell you that the movies have it wrong. You can’t crawl through an attic, kick out a wall, hop down onto a water fountain and not end up in a heap on the floor with a bone protruding through the skin.

Or they can tell you that you when you tackle an intruder on the stairs, one of you is gonna end up with a concussion. Not always the bad guy, either.

Crawl through broken glass and get cut up – check. Get in a fight to the death with psychopaths – check. Knife fight followed by a shootout with sadistic bikers – check. Gunfights, sword fights, fist fights, chick fights – check.

Sorry, y’all. It’s inevitable. Someone is gonna end up bleeding.


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