I am of course, talking in the purely literary sense (officer) but it is fair to say that there is something extremely satisfying about inflicting pain on someone even if it is only in my warped brain. And since I’m currently working on something which involves doing it to an awful lot of people in all kinds of settings, I thought I’d write a quick blog about how I go about it.
There are actually two elements to scenes of this kind, the actual mechanics and the set up and execution (pun intended).
To deal with the latter first, there is obviously a huge difference between screen and book given that most film tends to remove the element of imagination. So as a screenwriter, what you’re looking to develop is a scene that will stick firmly in the viewers mind. Primarily because those ‘Holy Fuck, did you see…’ moments are marketing gold. Both for the film and, just as importantly, for the writer.
But generally speaking, for me they come not from what is being done but how it’s being done. The electric drill scene in We Still Kill The Old Way is a good example as this is the one most people ask me about when talking about that film. However, I’d had that specific idea in my head for years and in truth, whilst it’s not very nice, it’s hardly anything spectacular. What actually makes it memorable is the dialogue and in particular, the almost comedic matter-o-fact way in which Butch goes about his gruesome work.
The printed word requires an entirely different approach because as an author, you have to effectively outline the picture in the readers head and give them the space to colour it in. The key to doing that is to be both inventive and realistic in the setting and totally honest with your characters and their motivation. If you can take a reader to the point where they can imagine what they’re reading being done to them (or by them in certain cases!) you’ve cracked it.
Central to it all of course, is the mechanics of the infliction and to be fair, this is where the writers imagination comes to the fore because if there are a lot of incidents, each one needs to be different from the last. But, and this is quite important, I never plan those when I’m actually writing. By the time I’m putting pen to paper, I’ll already have them firmly fixed in my head because I want to put all my development time into characters and plot rather than detail.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that I’ve whiled away many an hour between projects thinking about ways to inflict pain on people with everything from cable ties to hot exhaust pipes and all points in between!
Doing it like this has other benefits. Not only is it a great way to pass the time when driving but if someone has pissed you off, you have a ready made victim which believe me, is often a great incentive to be extra brutal!
In fact, if you ever read or see anything of mine which really makes you wince, pound to a pinch of poo that when I came up with the idea, I had a very specific individual in mind.
Who knows, it might even have been you!
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