Banged Ankles and Bruised Knees: why your characters should suffer “little injuries”

Unless you’re Stephen King, your characters probably don’t unburden their bowels in your stories.

Actually, most fiction is so crammed with big events that the little events of life get woefully overlooked.

Yet, it’s these little events or, as I like to call them – little injuries – that enhance the illusion of the story.

Think about it.

In real life, you probably get hurt all the time. You stumble and fall on your face. You drop something. Your phone goes off in the middle of a meeting, your ring tone blaring some embarrassing boy band ballad from the 90s.

In much fiction, characters are more likely to get thrown off of the plane than stumble down the stairs. They’re more likely to run into a terrorist cell then the sharp edge of the bed frame.

Interestingly, if you read bestselling novels, you’ll begin to notice these little injuries all the time.


I think one major reason is because they add realism to the story. They are something that might actually happen in real life.

When these things happen to characters, readers sometimes laugh out loud or just simply relate to the character at a much deeper level.

A powerful side effect, at least in narrative terms, is that these little moments of realism make the big moments that much bigger and more visceral to the reader.

I probably don’t have to tell you, that this is exactly what you want.

How To Add Little Injuries to Your Story

  • Examine each setting in your story 
  • Mentally walk through the environment – imagine yourself and then your characters moving around in the literary landscape 
  • Look for opportunities for little injuries. What could go wrong in this setting? 
  • Not every scene needs a little injury. One or two or three per story can work wonders. 

Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in books, creativity, screenwriting, Success, writer, Writing
2 comments on “Banged Ankles and Bruised Knees: why your characters should suffer “little injuries”
  1. nannygrannie says:

    Very interesting! I’ve never thought about this but I sure understand wanting a realistic book to read, since if there’s too many life altering dramatic moments that one character goes through then it’s tough to take seriously.

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