Writing about body modification, Part I

I originally wrote this on 8 March 2015 but never got around to completing my planned series. Let’s move these posts out already!

This is the first proper installment of a series on writing about body modification. The series will cover really important considerations, the names and placements of most major piercings (not including personal piercings), healing times, historical developments, types of jewelry, reasons for retiring a mod, and potential issues, complications, and things to consider during the healing process or afterwards.

First things first, a few diagrams. You don’t want to give your character a piercing you don’t know the proper name or location of. (All images are courtesy of BodyCandy.)

Ear-Piercing-Diagram-edit

A typical earlobe can accommodate four or five piercings, presuming they’re normal-sized and not stretched. The helix also has enough room for multiple piercings.

facial-piercing-chart-2

The Medusa is also called a Philtrum; the T in Labret is pronounced (it’s not French!); a Monroe is on the left side, a Madonna on the right side (after the natural beauty mark placements of their respective namesakes); and Dahlias, not included in this diagram, are right on the sides of the mouth.

facial-piercings-chart

A Nasallang goes through both nostrils and the septum with a single bar; a Septril goes in a nostril and out the septum; and a Rhino goes through the front of the nose, above the septum. Piercings not included on these diagrams include tongue, tongue web, most surface piercings, transdermals, microdermals, nipple, navel (on either side), and smiley (frenulum of upper lip). As abovementioned, I won’t be discussing personal piercings, unless there’s enough interest for a future post intended only for readers over the age of eighteen. I want to keep this series appropriate for all ages.

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Just as a good piercer, tattooist, or modification artist always puts the client over the mod, a good writer should also always put the character over the mod. In other words, don’t give your characters the same mods you have, avoid giving them mods you personally don’t like or want, or use stereotypes. Good characters are never ciphers or stereotypes.

Examples:

A character with soft, immature, round facial features may not be flattered by certain facial piercings, no matter how much you might like them.

Someone with a small mouth and throat has a strong gag reflex (speaking from personal experience), and probably won’t be a good candidate for a tongue or tongue web piercing.

Not everyone in a certain subgroup looks, acts, and thinks the same way. A popular 16-year-old girl with a slim body doesn’t automatically have to have a navel piercing, just as someone into a Gothic or alternative style isn’t required to have a lot of tattoos, piercings, or stretched earlobes.

Think about your character’s career or dream profession. Though great strides have been made since body modification started becoming more mainstream and socially acceptable, there are still certain careers which typically don’t allow any visible mods beyond ears or perhaps a discreet nostril piercing.

A conservative businessman who wears a suit and tie would have to have hidden mods; an aspiring elementary school teacher (outside of someone planning to work exclusively in alternative schools) should either indefinitely defer modification plans or hide them at work; someone who’s dreamt of being a doctor since age five may have to wait until retirement or a second career to get that longed-for eyebrow piercing.

WeWriWa—Hovering between safety and danger

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre fled back to Budapest after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house. He’s now at a nearby hospital with his mother, getting treatment for a broken hand. Imre wants to return to his apartment with pain relief, but his mother is afraid it’s not safe for him to go anywhere.

1945 Budapest, Copyright Foto:Fortepan/Kramer István dr

“After what you’ve admitted, the police might already be trying to track you down. I’ll hide you until we can find someone to smuggle you over the border. If you give me the address, I can go to Pasarét myself to retrieve your belongings.”

“Listen to your mother,” the doctor said. “She’s talking sense.”

Imre got some more morphine before being sent home with a big bottle of codeine and a prescription for more. On the taxi back to Wesselényi Utca, he hovered in the strange half-sleep state, until finally being back in his old bed. Hypnos visited him almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

WeWriWa—Difficult realities

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre fled back to Budapest after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house. He’s now at a nearby hospital with his mother. X-rays revealed he broke his entire left hand, his dominant hand. In the course of talking with the doctor, Imre mentioned Csilla might not be able to have kids, and the doctor asked why she thinks that.

Pasarét is a Bauhaus neighborhood on the hilly Buda side of the city, where Imre and his friends moved a few months ago.

Budapest 1945, the beautiful Pearl of the Danube 80% reduced to rubble

Imre clenched his unbroken fist. “The gendarme put live electrical wire into her uterus when he was torturing her.”

Mrs. Goldmark visibly cringed, and the doctor grimaced.

“That could certainly have a very negative impact on fertility, if the uterine lining were burnt off or damaged, but it doesn’t necessarily preclude conception. When you’re closer to marriage, she can undergo a few tests to see what’s going on. If she can’t have children, you can adopt some of these unfortunate war orphans.”

“May I please have some pain relief pills so I can be on my merry way back to Pasarét? I left all my things there, and I like my job as a waiter.”

“I’m not so sure it’s safe for you to go anywhere,” Mrs. Goldmark said.

Meet Naina, Katya, and Karla

I’m returning to moving out old posts indefinitely stored in my drafts folder. Originally one of a batch of 20 posts I put together and stored in my drafts folder for the now-long-defunct Sweet Saturday Samples bloghop on 24 June 2012, this comes from my first Russian historical and has been changed a fair bit. The published version doesn’t use the pedantic accent marks used here, for starts, and some things have been fleshed out while others (like the pointless roll-calling) have been removed. In the published version, sadistic Mrs. Zyuganova also pushes Klara into the snow, not the mud, seeing as it’s December in Minsk.

***

Possibly my favorite subplots in my Russian novels revolve around my orphanage girls. I’d read about how children of “enemies of the people” were treated in orphanages during the Civil War in Felice Holman’s The Wild Children, which I read shortly before beginning the first book in early 1993, but I wasn’t inspired to create a whole series of subplots set in orphanages and playing out over three books till my second major period of working on the first novel.

When I was introduced to what became my favoritest movie, The Inner Circle, in the summer of ’96, and then resumed work on the novel that November [actually September], I knew I had to have orphanage characters too. They include Vera, Natalya, and Fyodora, some of Lyuba’s future stepsisters, and Anya and Leontiy, the children of the couple who took Lyuba and her friends into hiding. Some of the other important orphanage girls include Belarusian Inessa and trio Katya, Naina, and Karla. Naina is the niece of Sonya Gorbachëva, an important secondary character.

Naina and Inessa have always been my favorite of the orphanage girls. Inessa is a very intelligent, headstrong young girl who’s only there because her parents were arrested for an honest, petty mistake, and Naina is as sharp as nails in spite of her young age. Naina first appears in December of 1919, and at barely eight years old is toting a gun.

***

“These three will stay in this bunk to make up for the three who departed.” Mrs. Zyuganova leads three new girls into the quarters. “Names, ages, and nationalities?”

“Naína Antónovna Yezhova, age eight, from Pétrograd.”

“Nice necklace. It’s mine now.” She grabs a citrine necklace hanging around Naína’s neck.

Naína slaps her hands away, reaches under her dress, and pulls a gun on Mrs. Zyuganova. “No it’s not. My mátushka gave it to me when I was four. Steal it and I shoot you. My papa gave me one of his handguns before I was taken away, and I’m not afraid to use it.”

Mrs. Zyuganova struggles to collect herself. “Next?”

“Yekaterína Kárlovna Chernomyrdina, age twelve, from L’viv.”

“L’vov,” Mrs. Zyuganova growls.

“No, it’s really L’viv!”

“Kárla.”

“Last name and patronymic?”

“I’m two and from Yaroslavl.”

“Last name and patronymic?”

“I don’t know!”

Mrs. Zyuganova picks Kárla up and throws her into a wall. Then she begins beating her.

“Stop beating her!” Naína bites Mrs. Zyuganova. “She’s only two years old! She is Kárla Maksímovna Gorbachëva. She’s my cousin, and if you hurt her again I will kill you. Remember, I’ve got a gun, and I know how to shoot. It’s not just for show.”

“Quiet that tiny one down!” Mrs. Zyuganova screams.

Naína takes Kárla into another room.

“No, you can’t leave the room you’re assigned to!”

“I am well accustomed to the rules of orphanages by now. I don’t like you. In fact, I don’t think we’ll be sticking around much longer. Just try to stop us. You know you can always get three fresh victims where you found us.”

Mrs. Zyuganova spits in disgust. “We’re ready to round people up to cars. Boys first. Leontiy Ryudolfovich Godimov, Andréy Samuelovich Bródskiy, Ósip Yuriyevich Khrushchëv, Iósif Vasíliyevich Klykachëv, Maksím…”

They go into the car obediently.

“Girls next. Natálya and Fyodora Ilyínichna Lebedeva, Yeléna Vasíliyevna Klykachëva, Svetlána Yuriyevna Khrushchëva, Valentína L’vóvna Kuchma, Irína Samuelovna Bródskaya, Ínna Aleksándrovna Zhirínovskaya, and Ólga Leonídovna Kérenskaya.”

“My brother is on that transport!” Klára howls.

“Tough luck. If you sneak on I’ll beat you. Oh. I would love to get rid of Inéssa my traitor niece. Off you go!”

“Fédya!  Fédya!” Klára screams.

Mrs. Zyuganova pushes Klára into the mud. “Would anybody like to sell his or her place to little Klára Mikháylovna Nadleshina?”

“I would!  I would!” Inéssa screams.

“Stay on that train, Inéssa! I want to get rid of you!”

Inéssa runs to the man approaching and flings herself into his arms. “Dyadya Díma! Take me away and adopt me! I’ve been in this orphanage since my parents got arrested, and Tyotya Dásha beats me sometimes! Adopt me!”

Mr. Zyuganov’s forehead is thrust forward, like a ram’s. He has red-brown hair and gray eyes. “Dásha, is this true?”

“Yes it’s true, now adopt me, Dyadya Díma!”

“Dásha, I saw him! The Leader! He’s promised to bring fair work conditions to the mines in Belarus! Soon you won’t have to work in this hospital anymore!”

“This isn’t a hospital! It’s a phony orphanage! Adopt me!”

“Of course, I’ll adopt my niece if her parents are jailed enemies of the people—”

Mrs. Zyuganova yanks Inéssa from her uncle’s arms and throws her into the girls’ cattlecar. “Goodbye, my traitor niece. I hope they treat you even worse at the new place.”

Klára runs with the train and boosts herself up into the window. Ánya, Véra, and Natálya run with her and boost themselves up next. They all tumble on top of the three newest arrivals.

“We hid under the baggage holds,” Naína says. “We’re very sneaky. After seeing how she treated Kárla, I had to say no and move onto another orphanage!”

WeWriWa—A crime of passion

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre fled back to Budapest after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house. He’s now at a nearby hospital with his mother. X-rays revealed he broke his entire left hand, his dominant hand. The doctor approves of Imre attacking someone to defend his girlfriend’s honor, though his mother is less approving.

Imre has just given more details about the incident and talked about how he can’t wait to start giving Csilla back her belongings as birthday and Chanukah presents when he sees her again.

Rubble-clogged streets of 1945 Budapest, the beautiful Pearl of the Danube a shadow of its former self

The doctor smiled. “This was a crime of passion alright. I suppose you intend to marry this lucky young lady.”

“You’d better, after you’ve possibly killed a man for her,” Mrs. Goldmark said. “You wouldn’t have done such a thing if you didn’t have serious feelings for Csilla.”

“I think I love her,” Imre admitted. “She might be unable to have children, and isn’t so sure she wants any children regardless, but I don’t care about that.”

“Why does she think she can’t have children?” the doctor asked. “Perhaps I can give my expert opinion, at least as far as I can without seeing her in person.”