Author Question: Electrocution

Tamara Asks:

My next thriller, The Killing Garden, is coming out this summer, and my publisher and I are batting the last minute details back and forth.

I had a question about one scene in the book: A woman grabs a highly electrified curtain rod (not knowing that it was electrified). She immediately dies. I just want to know what that will look like. Currently, I have her giving an ear-piercing shriek, a wild thrash, then collapsing on the floor. The carpet has a blackened circle where the electricity grounded.

Would she be burned? Blackened? Skin, hair, nails – would anything happen to them? Would she have time to shriek? Would the thrash be realistic? Would she be shot across the room? And the blackened circle on the rug – how would that look?

I have never seen anyone electrocuted before, so this scene was all written with the help of what I could find on Google. I’d appreciate it if you could clarify these points for me.

Jordyn Says:

What you describe is reasonable. She could scream initially. The electricity could flow through her (giving the body spasms) or she could be thrown off.

Being thrown off is probably more likely with higher voltage like power lines and lightening.

The thing about being burned by electricity is there is generally an entrance and an exit wound. So if she grabs onto it with her hand– it will exit out usually from another limb. So the hand or either foot. I would say there probably wouldn’t be a large burned area to the carpet but a good person to ask would likely be a firefighter who may have scene experience with this type of injury.

Depending on the burn severity– it could be blackened and/or blistered. I would good “electrical burns” and then hit images for some examples to describe in your ms.


Tamara Shoemaker is a thirty-something-year-old author living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She and her husband Tim spent a year in Ireland, where she acquainted herself with the leprechauns and fairies of the Green Isle, and studied the poetry and prose of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and other Irish writers. She and Tim moved to Virginia with their three young children. Tamara is the author of Broken Crowns, her debut thriller novel with over 10,000 downloads worldwide. Her second thriller, The Killing Garden, will be released in early summer 2013.

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