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Bit by a Spider but I ain’t no Spiderman: The Realities of Character Development

Miles Morales - Ultimate Comics Spider Man

Miles Morales – Ultimate Comics Spider Man


This last week or two, I had a life changing experience I was sure I would never have: I was bitten by a spider. Contrary to popular belief, spider bites do not bestow upon the bite-ee superhuman strength, ability to shoot webs from the wrist (trust me I tried) nor able to crawl up walls, defying gravity. No, instead all that one gets is pain. Lots of pain…oh and dead skin around the bite.

This spider bite taught me a couple of things, aside from the fact that its not normal for spiders to give powers.

1) Pain is real:

In the last Ke!th Universe short from Tyron over at Life In Light Of Eternity, my villain was thrown into skylight and sent hurtling towards certain death. When I picked up the tale from his fall, I made his pain seem almost insignificant and completely bearable when it actually isn’t it. Also, considering the fact that he’s just an operation on his arms, he should be in severe pain.

2) Recovery is not easy

My doctor told me it would take 3-5 days for the anti-inflammatory and antibiotics to work and after that I can go get the bite drained. I was thinking “Uhm how about you give me drugs to get this healed now? In the next hour I’m completely healed.” But that’s not how things work, not how the body works, not how antibiotics work; not how the world works. So for my character to get up feeling “sore” and then proceed to run out of the building like all he has is a flesh wound is also not very realistic. Recovery takes time and therefore what could happen to him during that recovery phase as he is lying face down severely injured.

3) Knowledge is power

How does a spider bite heal? What are the effects? Does each spider have a different effect on the body/skin/bite area? How quickly does it heal? What can one expect after being bitten and what is their best option?

These are questions that crossed my mind once it was diagnosed as a spider bite and of course the grand fear of “Oh I hope tiny spiders won’t come crawling out of my skin. This thought especially as I held the serrated edge of a knife against the raised skin. I don’t remember asking these questions for my character after he hit the ground. What can one expect from such a fall? Can they even move after such a fall? What would be running through their mind? What is the most obvious thing they would do/think/experience and what would be the next step realistically?

Detail is key!

Ultimately, one must make a story believable while moving it along swiftly without dragging on too much about detail.

Any thoughts on how you progressed your own character development?


About Nthato Morakabi

Nthato Morakabi is a South African published author. He has short stories appearing in both international and local anthologies, and has published his first book, Beneath the Wax, which opens his three-part novella series "Wax". He is an avid reader, blogger and writer.

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