Rushing into hospital for an emergency is, on the whole, not the way you want to spend your weekend. However, there are amazing things one can pick up in a hospital, and I’m not talking about either diseases or doctors.
Firstly, the conversations are spectacular. Around me in A&E there were three old dears that had fallen and done something to their hips, and the doctors’ slow yet loud speech patterns were wonderfully different to when they spoke to me. The changes are exactly why writers should think about all the participants in dialogue: people change what and how they say things depending on their audience.
Then there’s the hospital itself. There are so many emotions flying around from patients and the patients’ loved ones, while the doctors maintain a caring-but-aloof, we’ve-seen-it-all-before demeanour. I’m not saying doctors don’t care, I’m just saying that this is their job and, in the same way that a retail assistant will smile and tell you that this is the most amazing dress in their collection, even though their excitement wore off about three weeks ago when it first came into the store.
There’s also the effects of taking someone into unfamiliar territory and seeing how they react. Classic plot trick, but there’s so much scope for this in a hospital. I always thought it would be hilarious to take a bunch of horny teens on a walk down the natural birth unit of a hospital – the screams should be enough to put them off sex for at least a year by my reckoning.
And finally, there’s the obvious, don’t-do-this-at-home, change in perspective when you’ve been ploughed with drugs that aim to cure but inevitably have side-effects ranging from drowsiness to hallucinations. Get someone to write stuff down if it’s the latter, as chances are you’ll forget, and there’s so much material there to play with.
Moral of the story: even a trip to A&E comes with benefits for your writing. Just don’t put yourself in hospital on purpose. It’s not worth it.