I am a young author writing a fantasy series. I am re-writing a chapter that I wrote a few months ago because it’s an earlier one, and I didn’t really know what I was doing, so it sounded bad. Anyway, one of the characters breaks his leg, and the first person narrator is describing it, but I’ve never broken anything before. Neither has anyone I know of. I can’t really tell my reader how it feels.

For anyone who has broken a leg, how did it feel so I can use it for reference?

I’ve looked at similar questions. Most say record how pain felt when you yourself felt it, but I’m not going to go break my leg for a better book.

To be more clear on the severity of it, the character should kind of sort of... be dead. He fell off a cliff. Now, I know I’m supposed to stick with the most realistic stuff, but I simply can’t do that or my MCs would never be able to get out of bed. He did slow his fall twenty feet from the ground by grabbing a tree root that pulled free from the wall, however. And I know he should technically still be dead, but I’ve read three bestseller series by the author Rick Riordan, and his characters should have never been able to survive a few things that they did. They were all still bestsellers, so I figured I could get away with this, especially since I have the same target audience.

And even though in my fantasy world people only die if it’s REALLY bad, literally half of the characters died anyway. I can’t have a story if everyone’s dead. It’s also one of those rare instances where the character simply CANT die, or it would destroy the entire plot. Normally I would just have someone not as important die, and then kill this character once he’s served his purpose but all the characters present are also characters that can’t die.

  • Same with me, the chapters I first wrote sound absolutely dreadful compared to my current chapter! ;) Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 1:09
  • Can you provide a little more context? How bad was the fracture and whether your character was promptly taken by an ambulance to a state of the art trauma center or it has happened in a wilderness with no professional help at all?
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 19:43
  • Ok, I see. In this scenario, the broken leg may be the worst of your character's injuries, but not the only one. IMHO you shouldn't worry about his immediate survival - after all, this is your story and you can make this fall as bad or good as you want it to be (as long as it's not some kind of certainly-killing Moon Door that he fell through). However, if your character gets no help and goes through some "The Revenant"-style self-rescue, your readers may get skeptical.
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 21:44

4 Answers 4


It all depends on the level of fracture, the place of the wound, and the number of fragments you've got. Bones get broken mostly when some sort of external stress is applied to them, or when you land your feet or place weight on your arms in an awkward manner, for which you may get your bones broken straight away or over time. Either way, when a bone is broken, you'll lose the ability to put any weight on it. So you can't bring out strength from that limb. You'll not be able to properly clench your fists either, for a long time, depending on how bad your wound is, whether the bone has protruded out through the skin or whatnot.

Also, different bones hurt differently. Joints hurt more than other places, so knee or elbow injuries hurt a heck of a lot more than shin or forearm injuries. Having said that, injuries to feet will also hurt if you try to walk on them.

The good thing is that bones get repaired completely if you take a good diet, and they may even strengthen, too, assuming you don't get your bone broken at the same spot repeatedly. In movies, they show people fighting each other with knives and arrows in their bodies, but that's not how reality works. A simple knife wound to your hand will render it pretty much useless. Trust me, you won't even be able to clench your fist properly for weeks. The nerves just won't allow that. A simple stab in the middle of your palm is that effective, yet you see characters digging holes in each other's bodies until they lose a s*it ton of blood all the time. Unless your world has supernatural strength and superpowers, stick as close to reality as you can.

As for the pain you feel from a broken bone, it depends on the seriousness of the wound. You'll feel heat, soreness, and sometimes this can also bring headaches, which is why rest is necessary. Unnecessary action will cause swelling to worsen, too. If it's an external wound, you've got to worry about infection, too, especially if your character is poor and lives in a dirty/poor neighborhood. If a bone is broken in a hand, then you can still fight, but if it's broken in a leg, then you basically become a sitting duck.

Lastly, psychological factors give much more depth to the character than just some physical factors, so make sure to add the 'weight' that the fracture/injury brings to the character. Do people treat him poorly because he can't work now, or does he find someone who looks after him in this rough period, or does he realize that he shouldn't be so rash during the fights? If something changes in their personality because of that injury, then its impact will be a lot more, right?


I've never broken my leg, but I have broken my arm once rollerblading. TBH I don't remember much, probably because they used some weird pain medicine once I got to the hospital. But here's what I remember;

I was in a rollerblading rink with some friends and after a while I fell down and landed heavily on my left arm. I was able to get out without being run over and sat down on a bench. For a bit my wrist area where the fracture was didn't even hurt, my elbow was where I felt pain. It kinda felt like when you hit your funny bone, but then you kept the table corner wedged in there for a minute. I got some ice, managed not to pass out, and then my mom found out that it wasn't my elbow that was hurt but my wrist which was swelling up a bunch(funny thing here is that my dad kept saying 'oh he's fine' even after it was clear I had broken something).

I managed to get into the car and buckle up. About here is where the elbow stopped hurting but my wrist was hurting now, but the ice numbed it a bit so it wasn't too bad. Imagine you got your finger stuck in a door, but on your wrist and the door was on fire and you tried shoving your arm into the snow but your arm still felt like it was on fire, and that's probably pretty close to what I felt. I got taken to emergency care(apparently they all close at 8 so we had to go to like 3 different hospitals before we found one that was open) where they put my arm in a little splint in the waiting room. I wore my jacket cause it felt really cold in there, although I think it might have been mostly me rather than the room temperature(dad was still saying 'he's fine' and eventually took the rest of the family home).

Once I got taken back, they put some tape on me, stabbed some needles into me, and I went to sleep as they fixed my arm. I woke up with a cast and was all good. Well, I wasn't good but it didn't hurt anymore(dad still thought I didn't needed to go to the hospital).

So yeah, that's the story of my broken arm. And I haven't touched my rollerblades since.


You might look at autobiographies in which a person describes how such a thing felt. You might try to find online support groups for people with such injuries and explain that you want to describe how such an injury feels in a work of fiction. You might look for well-written fiction in which a character has s similar injury and se how that author handled it. You might read medical texts which describe how a patient feels.

For one example, toward the latter part of Lois M. Bujold's Beguilement (Book 1 of "The Sharing Knife" series) the character Dag breaks his arm. His sensations are described, as is the frustration of not being able to use the arm for some time. Since Dag had lost his other hand (to a wolf) years before, he is very much limited while his arm heals, which takes until well into the next volume.


I am also a very young writer: I have never broken a bone before but I tried writing about someone breaking a leg, you can read it if you want. I hope you can use it because I doubt that my writing will ever be published.

Something hit my leg, right on my knee, and when I heard my joints tear, bones broke in half and cut through the skin, I yelled in pain. When I felt bleeding under the skin, my legs started to heat up, my leg filled up with blood as the skin stretched so much it felt like someone was raking knives down my leg.

or this version:

Something slams down on my leg, right on the knee cap, I yell in agonizing pain as I hear my joint rip as the bone snaps in two and slices through the skin. Heat flares up my leg as I feel bleeding under the skin, my leg fills up with blood the skin stretches so much I feel like someone is raking knives down my leg

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