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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
from a lightning strike! ...but after some research I just found that a lightning strike wouldn't cause a body to explode (unless it was holding a stick of dynamite or something...) and now I'm hesitating to write it.  I realize there are many ways to kill a bad guy, but I've become a little attached to the lightning strike and would love to keep it if possible.  :D

However, my story is action/adventure with Ninjas and Pirate/bikers and over the top things (like flipping backwards through open windows to escape) are happening in almost every chapter. 
So, my question is, how accurate do I need to be?  Personally, I get pulled out of stories if I know something is scientifically impossible (unless its fantasy, of course). 

Is it common knowledge that bodies don't explode from lightning strikes? And I've just been ignorant of the fact for all these years?
Anyway, love to hear from you guys on this.


Thanks! ;D
 

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I think it's pretty common knowledge. I remember watching an X Files episode with a guy that was struck repeatedly by lightning. He didn't multiple-kablooie.  ;D
 

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R.A. Hobbs said:
from a lightning strike! ...but after some research I just found that a lightning strike wouldn't cause a body to explode (unless it was holding a stick of dynamite or something...)
That actually happened, you know. Just after 9/11/01, I believe. Let me see if I can find a link about it...
 

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I think that you should go for it. In a story with Ninjas and Pirate/bikers a little thing like a villian exploding from lightning doesn't seem out of line.
 

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There would have to be something inside the body that would explode. A body itself has nothing in it that succeptible to exothermic reactions. If you're hellbent on doing it, can you at least have the character be full of booze or have real bad gas? Maybe ignite the alcohol or methane. But that's a real stretch.
 

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This reminds me of when I thought I could blow up a building with a bunch of Molotov cocktails.

After my research, I ended up with a truck bomb.

I had to rethink the whole scene, but it turned out well.
 

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I have a character who was hit by lightning but survived, with unforseen consequences. DUN dun dun!

If it's a little over the top already and has a bit of a humorous bent, you can probably get away with Exploding By Lightning if you're determined. Maybe have him holding something like C4, or some kind of heavy computer gear or something to help explain it?
 

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The concrete around our church steeple exploded from lightning. You don't necessarily need an exothermic reaction. You just need a lot of heat going into a small incompressible volume very quickly. Meteors can explode because when they strike the atmosphere, they get hot very quickly, and the expanding gas inside has nowhere to go. I suppose if a bolt of lightning were particularly energetic, and the conditions in the body were just right (low electrolyte levels? higher resistance would create more heat), you could explode a bad dude. I've never heard of it happening, but remember, it is fiction after all.
 

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vrabinec said:
or have real bad gas? Maybe ignite the alcohol or methane. But that's a real stretch.
Don't you mean, "a real stench"? :p

Speaking of gas, how about the bad guy gets struck by lightning near a gas pump, or near an open container of gas, or something else that's explosive?
 

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I have actually just finished a short story about a girl that gets struck by lighting and I did some research about it (especially scars and long-term injuries)
to get it as accurate as possible (although there are other side-effects in her case that are more paranormal).

However, if I wrote a ninja and pirate story I could easily see myself writing that that the person exploded. I would add something like:
... And then as lighting struck the man, the body unexpectedly explode in a rain of blood, something that Mat never even thought was possible...
(Just to be on the "safe side" from critical beta readers.)

I do not think that readers will mind really. (I mean look at all the crazy unbelievable things that they pull off in Pirates of the Caribbean.)
If the story is good and it works, readers will remember that it fiction after all...
 

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I think it's probably fairly common knowledge that people don't blow up from lightning strikes. And for me, you can have a character do all kinds of cool things, as long as those things are physically possible, but as soon as you break the laws of physics in a non-fantasy book, you lose me. I'd lose faith in the author's ability to get it right, and would probably bail on the book.
 

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Becca Mills said:
Don't you mean, "a real stench"? :p

Speaking of gas, how about the bad guy gets struck by lightning near a gas pump, or near an open container of gas, or something else that's explosive?
That is a clever solution!
 

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Endi Webb said:
The concrete around our church steeple exploded from lightning. You don't necessarily need an exothermic reaction. You just need a lot of heat going into a small incompressible volume very quickly. Meteors can explode because when they strike the atmosphere, they get hot very quickly, and the expanding gas inside has nowhere to go. I suppose if a bolt of lightning were particularly energetic, and the conditions in the body were just right (low electrolyte levels? higher resistance would create more heat), you could explode a bad dude. I've never heard of it happening, but remember, it is fiction after all.
Yeah, one of my university's buildings was hit by lightning, and a small corner of the stonework exploded. But I don't think lightning going through the body heats in that way. Maybe because the charge travels through more superficial tissues? Or because it travels so fast only some tissues are heated, not the whole inside of the body? Dunno.

Now if you microwaved the bad guy ... ;)
 

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Lady TL Jennings said:
I do not think that readers will mind really. (I mean look at all the crazy unbelievable things that they pull off in Pirates of the Caribbean.)
If the story is good and it works, readers will remember that it fiction after all...
Pirates is very obviously fantasy. If it was a story set in the real world I think people would expect a little more realism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Lady TL Jennings said:
That is a clever solution!
Ooh! He's on a hospital rooftop during a lightening storm. They got to have something explosive up there. Or maybe not because it's a hospital and they've covered it in some fire resistant nerf-foam...

Time to google...

Great suggestions so far! Thanks!
 

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vrabinec said:
There would have to be something inside the body that would explode. A body itself has nothing in it that succeptible to exothermic reactions. If you're hellbent on doing it, can you at least have the character be full of booze or have real bad gas? Maybe ignite the alcohol or methane. But that's a real stretch.
Charles Dickens does this in Bleak House. The guy is drinking booze too close to the fireplace, and BOOM!

Spontaneous Combustion
 

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I say keep the explosion... Maybe there is duct leaking fuel or something on the roof...  Or there is fuel next to a helicopter pad on top of the hospital..

 

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Cherise Kelley said:
Charles Dickens does this in Bleak House. The guy is drinking booze too close to the fireplace, and BOOM!

Spontaneous Combustion
It's not really spontaneous combustion if there's an accelerant and an open flame in close proximity. I think that would make it just plain old regular combustion.
 

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If he's carrying you could explode his gun and he could shoot himself to death with some gun parts shrapnel thrown in for good measure.
 
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