Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.

I’ve been thinking the same thing. Recently I’ve started writing the section of my story which has a lot of childhood experiences effect the characters. My way of going about it is translating my own personal set backs and those of my friends into fiction and seeing how our methods of coping can be made more hyperbolic so it’s more hard hitting and traumatic.
For example as a kid a friend dropped his ice cream on his most expensive pair of shoes. Doesn’t seem very traumatic right? However because of that chance event now when ever he wears expensive shoes he goes out his way to tie plastic bags around them when going out and even in doors. For me this makes the little event seem traumatic because it places a consequence on the character going forward no matter how little the event.

Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.

I think trying to understand the effects the truama has on the character is important. To pull from non-fiction their is the book "The Body Keeps the Score...". So when I write about trauma I try to show how the truama creates stress. In my story the moral challenges raised from the truamatic event causes the muscles to tighen on the MC's body. The main character is experiencing chronic stress for which there is no easy solution. Trauma sticks and healing takes time. 

It is also important to keep in mind trauma is social. It hurts more than just the mc, in how it affects your main character for instance making them angry that will in turn cause them to hurt other people. But it is also true that healing (or not healing) from trauma comes, in part, from other people. What relationships are they supportive and loving, what actions hurt the character or heal them.  

Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.

It depends. 

There are many kinds of trauma. Acute ones. Slumbering ones. Ones that strikes and then heals and goes away, ones that linger for a long time like open wounds that don't want to heal. Numb ones, sharp ones, ones that obviously disrupts your life and ones you don't notice 'cause it's just always been that way and everyone around you have just always been that way, so now it's just this static buzzing noise, almost unnoticably in the background of your life, as familiar and un-noteworthy as the sound of the pipes and wiring in the walls and the passive drone of airplanes in the sky... 

At least in my own experience (and that doesn't amount to much, because everyone deals with it differently. The same person can have different traumas and deal with them differently), I like to think that trauma does two things in particular. It reveals, and it lies and covers up. 

Reveal because you might be exposed to entirely new sides of yourself you never were never pushed to face before. This one character I have grew up a total goody two shoes. The embodiment of good girl syndrome. A somewhat mousy personality, disliking even cutesy video game violence. Then she got dragged into a fight for the first time in her life, realizing at the end of it when she came out of the panicked haze that she was grinning like a mad fool and had a thing for gore. Obviously that's exaggerated for the sake of plot, but... also, not really that exaggerated... stress responses are just weird and surprising and sometimes utterly out-of-character and you never know what you might do until you have to do it. Accepting that might be harder to face than the actual trauma, because how do you "heal" from something that is, in fact, your own personality trait? How do you re-concile your civilized self-image with what you did when talking was over and push came to shove? 

Simultaneously, it covers up and lies, because of stuff like derealization and depersonalization. Confusion. Guilt, too. And that weird and nearly unnoticeable sense of the world being focused on you in particular - everything is your fault (maybe it is, maybe it isn't), you could've prevented it, everyone is suddenly out to get you, perhaps it feels like strangers laughing on the street as they pass by you are obviously laughing at you. Everyone you pass by might be a robber out for your wallet. Every man is a monster, every dog is unpredictable and might bite. That's a total lie, but trauma is like a weird funny-mirror house that almost shows you the truth but never quite the truth. 

It might take days for all of that to solidify as you emerge from the initial haze and confusion, but it all takes root in a single moment, or a long, long period of time full of repeated transgressions, large or small. It might take some time to process and realize it, yet all these things are also present from the very first second of trauma, messing with you and your perception of reality even before the traumatic scene is over. Sometimes I think that this, in particular, is the main reason for dissociating. That this myriad of responses that might take days or years or the rest of your life to feel and discover are all packed into that one moment of horror, like a highly compressed white hot coal that suddenly got dropped into your hand in a single life-defining moment.

There's also the social aspect of trauma to take into account. How do other people treat you after something has happened to you? It's not rare for victims to be blamed or alienated. And even if they aren't, they may fear that they are, courtesy of "feeling like the center of the world" thing. There is a huge difference between traumas you can hide (or think you can hide) and ones that you can't. People with trauma want to feel safe (yes, even the ones that happily chase danger because of their trauma) but exposing their trauma to the world to see? That's frightening. Many people go through great lengths to hide their secrets, bending themselves over backwards for that even if it actually harms them.. 

Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.


Zearth Wrote: So... ya, title.

I was going through a lot of research material and realised I haven't touched on trauma in fiction yet. So my question is this. How should you write trauma, aside from the usual crying, retreating into a mind palace, or the more extreme methods of <If you know you know. I don't think I want to write those down on the forum.>?

First of all, you gotta note that people can deal with trauma in different ways. At the worst outcome, it can lead to suicide. Always keep this in mind. No matter how hard someone tries, sometimes, people eventually break.

Another thing to note is that, some keep it bottled in. Over time, this can cause a series of things to come. They can even snap on another. Some put on a false smile, since it helps them get through the day. They constantly remember those events, even in the more simple of times. When writing it, there are a number of actions someone can take, but it won’t be the same for everyone. 

Some of them may push away loved ones for a set amount of time, until they have calmed enough. It goes on and on, dealing with trauma isn’t an easy thing. Some people can appear fine on the outside, but is tearing apart on the inside. 

Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.

Write a character as a person and not their trauma.

People react and treat trauma differently and don't follow a checklist of symptoms, so character wouldn't either.

The response of trauma of any kind depends on the cause, the personality of the individual, and experiences. And sure you will have an acute response, that will vary as well, but after that, it really depends.

I wouldn't write someone who suffers trauma from childhood abuse the same way as someone who was one of the few survivors in an airplane crash. I would be researching different things because it's not something you can just lump together.

So the way I have gone about it in the past is come up with said character. Get their personality, figure out what happens to said character, and research specific this about what happened to them. Read personal accounts if I can. Based on research, setting of the story, personality of said character, and what happened to them, I create a profile just for them. 

Re: Writing Trauma. Tips and advices wanted.

The impacts of Trauma can manifest themselves in countless ways. I would base it on the character, some characters the trauma defines them and their interactions with others, some hide it or mask it behind other emotions.

Have them react in a way that matches the character, or maybe shock them by having a character react in a way that contradicts their other aspects for interesting combinations.