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Old 05-14-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
phineas12gauge
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regarding description of a scene

I have a scene in my novel where a character gets popped in the eye with a steel pipe. I'm trying to add some little juicy bits of detail to describe what happens but am hitting a bit of a snag.

Here's an example:

"sharp little bone fragments punctured his sclera"

Would the general person know what a sclera is?

or would you keep it simple

"sharp little bone fragments bone fragments punctured his eyeball"
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:30 PM   #2
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I wouldn't think you would see bones.

Your flesh, blood and all the other soft things in your face would cover it up.

There would be blood, flesh and maybe showing bone. But I've never heard of eye-socket bone to puncture an eye.

The eye might smash in and just squirt like some sour grape. (Horror forum, I can get a little gross).
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Old 05-15-2012, 12:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
I wouldn't think you would see bones.
You wouldn't see bones, that is correct ... I'm speaking more in terms of what could happen when an orbital bone shatters from the application of a steel pipe .

Can I use 3rd person omni to describe details of wounds/injuries that might not be directly visible to the naked eye?
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:57 AM   #4
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I think sclera is the right word. Can't speak for the general public, but I think many (most?) people reading the story who didn't know the word "sclera" would be able to figure out what it was based on what had happened. And 3rd person omni to describe details of the wound should be fine so long as it doesn't require a complete perspective shift in the middle of a paragraph or something.
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Old 05-15-2012, 03:01 AM   #5
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Yeah, I wouldn't know what a "sclera" is, and I'd hazard a guess that the average reader wouldn't either. When you're describing entrails and generally turning a character's features into mush, I find it's best to keep things simple. You want your readers to visualize the scene without having to look words up mid-splatter.
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:12 PM   #6
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Simpler is better. Word economy and keep it at a sixth-grade level if whenever possible. Don't try to impress your reader with big words unless you define those words. That means extra narrative that usually slows things down, unless it's a key plot point.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:38 PM   #7
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I personally think you should use the word sclera. While I know what it is I also understand that some people would not and that would encourage some to look it up. Or in the least make a conjecture of what it is. It also has a better sound and feel for a horror description.

I don't like the idea of dumbing language down. You should write for your audience yes but if you look at word usage of say Lovecraft vs more modern writers his word choices are far greater and more diversified and in my opinion more beautiful. Also my vocabulary expanded due to authors throwing words I did not know into their books and they didn't explain them they treated their readers like intelligent creatures and just expected them to know and I appreciate those authors for that.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:08 PM   #8
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I agree with Caleb - don't "dumb down" your writing. That isn't to say use "$20 words" in every paragraph either. But peppering them in throughout your novel just adds to the flavor. This is just my humble opinion as I enjoy text that uses stronger, more cerebral vocabulary from time to time.

In your example, I am going to assume that somewhere within the paragraph the eye will be mentioned so that the reader, who didn't necessarily know what "sclera" meant prior, would have a fair idea based on your surrounding imagery. Another words, don't let "sclera" be the ONLY mention of the eye/eyeball.
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:17 AM   #9
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Yes , there is context around that particular fragment so a reader should know its related to the eye

but I had a reader point out that it might not be the best word to use ... I'm still considering a better word
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phineas12gauge View Post
I have a scene in my novel where a character gets popped in the eye with a steel pipe. I'm trying to add some little juicy bits of detail to describe what happens but am hitting a bit of a snag.

Here's an example:

"sharp little bone fragments punctured his sclera"

Would the general person know what a sclera is?

or would you keep it simple

"sharp little bone fragments bone fragments punctured his eyeball"
I'm not familiar with the term sclera, but would probably accept it without question if I came across it because of the context.

If there's a problem with your example, in my opinion, it's because the description is bland and lacks sensory detail, and as written the words 'sharp' and 'little' only add clutter. But I appreciate that it's a small example from a longer piece, and we only see a snippet here.
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