It is winter in Wisconsin. Outside is dry as the moisture freezes. It’s beautiful and crisp.
Inside is dry because the heat is on to keep the freezing temperatures at bay.
The skin on my hands is rough and dry. Then it cracks, opening up. They look like lacerations with how the skin separates.
By the time I wear gloves and put on moisturizer, it is too late. The moisturizer seeps into the raw skin, burning and itching as the skin knits itself back together. Healing is pain.
Crack the Skin
When I created the delven, a fragile race forced to live in an unforgiving desert, I pondered the hardships they could endure.
The delven, living around oases, usually have access to water. However, sometimes they travel, especially those who take on the mantle of merchant. Traveling the desert means they can’t regularly bathe or drink a lot of water. Thinking back to my own dry skin dilemma, I made their skin crack.
Then I took it a step further. It starts to peal, revealing a membrane underneath which is sensitive to the touch. The next they bathe hurts immensely and feels incredibly good. Their entire body itches, but it would hurt to scratch. At the same time, they feel as if they’re being made whole.
Use Your Ailments/Experiences
There are other unpleasant experiences which I incorporate into my stories. It gives characters deeper dimensions because it’s not just a blanket issue that I have no experience in. Those feel vague and often don’t have the deep impact.
So use your suffering to make your characters more believable, as well as to give them meaningful obstacles.
How would your suffering change the way a character or entire race dealt with the world around them?