Hold that Miraculous Healing, Please!
“Please, Neil!” I sobbed, pushing the bandage harder against the wound. Regardless of the pressure, the bleeding didn’t stop. His body convulsed with his uneven breaths. His face glimmered with sweat.
Blood mingled with my tears as they fell upon the cobblestones. “Please, don’t… don’t die,” I forced out through tremulous lips.
The wound didn’t listen, the dying didn’t stop, and I knew – this was the end.
Then, all of a sudden! No worries, someone random steps out from behind a bush and magically heals Neil. Everything’s fixed, Neil can still save the day, and all you readers who were worried about poor Neil — you don’t feel cheated at all, do you?
Putting conflict in our stories requires things to be hard for our characters. Sometimes, we take that to an extreme level before realizing that, since we’ve done our research on injuries, we can’t get away with having the characters heal rapidly.
Ah, we awkwardly say, he still needs to save the world…
The easiest solution springs into our minds: we can just miraculously heal the characters! Problem solved!
After the characters have been magically healed with no troublesome after-affects, they go quickly back to living their life. Everything is fine.
Except… maybe it’s not.
Your reader had clutched the book in their hands, their grip tightening as the tension rose. How would Neil get out of this? “What if… What if he doesn’t?”
Your readers were expecting a dramatic rescue (or a tragedy). They certainly wasn’t expecting a sudden and anti-climatic departure of the drama.
Suddenly, with Neil okay and charging off to defeat the bad guys, your reader slowly backs up. Their grip on the book loosens as their eyes remain wide.
While certainly it wasn’t your intent, you just cheated your reader. The emotions you brought up, the suspense you formed, the desperate, “No, Neil, don’t die!” running through their brain just disappeared in a whiff of smoke. The emotions were forced and – apparently – worthless.
Even if your reader doesn’t care about dear, dear Neil, you would have shocked them from the story and left them feeling bewildered.
Furthermore, even if your reader isn’t the bewildered type, you just sacrificed the drama of the long nights of your heroine sitting by Neil’s bedside as he hovers between life and death. You’ve lost the possible growth and character arc caused by the near-death experience. You no longer have the ability to have Neil continually suffer from the half-healed wound as he dramatically waves his sword around.
Miraculous healings can be done well (though I can’t at the moment think of a time I’ve seen it). If the healing takes away the mortality of the wound, but leaves the pain, you would have an added layer of tension and emotion. If miraculous healing requires the death of another character, you’ve kept up the tension and have more potential in your story.
Perhaps once, these sudden healings were original, but now, they reek of overuse. While your books is yours to decide about, always think twice about miraculous healings. Always ask yourself: is what you gain worth what you lose?