Sep 25, 2010

Broken Bones and Questions

by Christine Thackeray

On Wednesday at noon I got a call from my sixteen-year-old son that he had broken his arm playing catch at recess. My husband, who was just hired by a local hospital but hasn't started work yet, wanted to come, and we picked Camron up.

My son's arm was definitely broken. It looked fine until a few inches below the wrist when it stair-stepped a few inches north and then looked normal the rest of the way. It almost seemed like an optical illusion, except for the fact that my son was unusually quite.

We called the insurance to ask what to do so it would be covered. He began a litany of questions but I interupted and said "My son's arm is definitely broken with a compound fraction. Just answer yes or no. Can I go to the emergency room and will it be covered?" The man said "Yes, go to the emergency room."

I told my husband to go to the closest hospital, and we did. As we waited for the nurses to call him, my husband remembered that when I hurt my back this summer they took me to a hospital on the other side of town. He called the insurance company from the ER again and asked if we could go to any ER. They said no. They only paid for one hospital. So we left that hospital and rushed the half hour away to go to the other hospital- turns out, that is where my husband was hired the next day. Wierd coincidence of events, huh.

Anyway, what struck me was the fact that it wasn't not asking questions that got me in trouble but not asking enough questions. I've started a new writer's group and it interests me how often as writers we have wonderful plot points but never get specific because we haven't fleshed out the specifics ourselves. It wasn't enough that I asked the critical question, I ask a lot more. I hope that's a lesson I don't forget.


  1. Been there, done that with kids and broken bones. We have to ask questions, and I've learned that one person may tell us one thing, and the next person might give us a contradicting answer!

    When writing a novel and fleshing out the specifics as you say, it doesn't all come at once. But it all works out, line upon line if we keep asking questions. That's the fun of it!

  2. Thanks, Joan, for your comment. I have to keep asking myself questions about my WIP. It is not all coming at once and it is kind of hard not to know everything in advance. However, there is a lot of writing that can be done with what I do know.

    Christine, I hope your son heals quickly. Great post!

  3. great post, Christine! I hope your back is better, and that your son heals quickly. Time for me to go as some more questions!

  4. I can't figure out if it's best to have the specifics fleshed out or let them pop up unexpectedly. As for that ER situation, been there done that. Worked for a hospital once where the insurance was only reasonable IF you came to their ER. We employees used to joke carry a medical braclet saying take me to .... and no where else.

  5. Hope your son heals fast. Maybe I haven't been asking the right or enough questions.

  6. Sorry to hear about your son's mishap, but glad to hear your husband has landed another job! Questions are, indeed, integral to the development of a good story. You need to keep asking yourself lots of them as you go along. You need to raise many in the plot of the story. And then you need to answer all of them by the end (unless you're writing a series and hoping to leave the reader in suspense for the next volume). I will admit, though, there have been books I've read that didn't quite fill in all the holes, but those have been of the more literary type. Sometimes a hole or two can be satisfying in its own way in terms of making the story stay with you and making you think. But it takes a very good writer to get away with it.


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