Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The making of a scene

I was reading through A Little Too Late, my current WIP when I came to a very physical scene and remembered how I worked out the details. I think I will always read this scene and remember the steps it took to write it.

I've never been in a physical fight. Never. I would lose. Seriously, I'm a wimp. Verbal argument? I can hold my own very well, but physical? Nope. I'm a wuss and don't like pain.

There was only one time that my husband hit me, but it doesn't count. He was sleeping and in his dream was protecting himself. I just happened to be quite close to him in the bed as he slapped at the bad guy in his dream. It hurt, but didn't even leave a mark so there was nothing to give him grief over the next day. He still tells me I dreamed it. But I know the truth :)

Which brings me to the scene I was working on. I wrote this scene and wondered if it worked, so after dinner one night I asked my husband to help me. I simply asked him to be still and I balled up my fist and swung. I wasn't going to hit him, I swear it, but he didn't know that. Geez Jenn,ever think of telling someone what you're about to do? Anyway, he grabbed my arm and kept me from hitting him. Ow. After explaining myself, we continued in the "research" and my arm was a little sore. But I figured out where a girl's punch would land and what part of the hand would hurt.

Moving on, I needed to know what would happen next. Let me back up and explain why I asked my husband for help - he was a bad boy in college and won bar fights so I knew he was almost an expert in this area. See the good things that can come from a checkered past?? Back to the scene...after we discussed what a guy who was punched by a girl might do, we discussed what another guy would do to stop that guy from hitting the girl back. And then practiced it..on me..big mistake...huge mistake!

My right arm was twisted behind my back and his left arm was wrapped around my throat. I yelped in pain, not bad pain but still pain. Told you I'm a wuss. And I tried to get away. If he would not have released me and would've been trying to hurt me, I wouldn't have gotten away. Time for self-defense classes. Seriously, I realized how I could be over-powered but that is beside the point. Although, I must say I looked at my husband in a different light that day. I couldn't ever reconcile the man I knew to the man who got into fights, and won, even when he fought more than one. I just couldn't see it in him, still can't completely, but I have a clue.

Needless to say, I have the scene and am very happy with it. I can't say the research aspect of that scene left me feeling happy, my arm hurt, for days, since it wasn't made to be twisted like that, but knowing that the fictional character who not only got punched by the girl but had his arm twisted by the guy, that feeling is priceless.

Have you ever done anything not quite smart to research a scene?


Krista Ashe said...

HAHA, I don't think I've ever tried anything violent to research, lol.

Nice post!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Jeez woman, you're lucky he didn't rip your rotator cuff or do ligament damage at the least. (Go hug him and say "Thank you for pulling punches" Do it now.)

Next time, buy a punching bag for the hitting part and call a self-defense instructor or hit YouTube for details on what happens in a fight. If you break your arm, your writing parts won't work right.

*steely glare*

Debra Driza said...

Lol, Jenn, I've done similar stuff with my husband in the name of "research." It's also nice when I'm at Starbucks, twisting my arm a certain way to see how to describe it in my novel. People tend to stare. A lot.

I haven't spiked anyone in the head yet tho, so that's a plus, right? :D

Debra Driza said...

P.S. I have my hubs teach me submission holds all the time! :D

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Oh, the pain of progress. Still, awesome learning technique, lol. Great advice though - I wrote a fight scene once and my betas were confused as to what actually took place. I'll have to use your technique ... but maybe I'll just ask my kids to act out the fight, hehehe.

Lindsay said...

Jeez this was funny. I laughed out loud imagining it. I have to say, I haven't physically researched in this way (no pain involved, that is) but I have asked my husband to recall the way teenage boys talk to each other (the dirty, crass things they sometimes say) and I noticed that when certain ideas came out of my mouth - it got a response! My husband looked at me like I was a crazy person - of course, being a mom of three that doesn't even swear very often, it must have been a shock for him:-) Ah, the things we do in the name of realism.

J.S. Wood said...

No one ever accused me of having common sense :)

And Deb, if you ever feel the need to try out DG moves on someone, don't.

Leah said...

I've never tried anything for a scene...yet. But I swear, if the government ever saw my google searches, I'd prob be arrested :P
Things about stabbing people in specific ways, or how to break someone out of prison.
My morbidity knows no bounds...

Tahereh said...

i think this was brilliant. hehe. but then i tend to like odd things, so...

but seriously -- that's dedication! love that you actually took the time to figure it out!

and in any case, it worked, right?


happy you're okay, love!

Roh Morgon said...

Not a fight, per se.

My MC in Watcher is a huntress. She prefers deer and elk. And because she's a paranormal, blood-drinking creature, she doesn't use weapons.

So how would a 5'9" woman take down an elk with her bare hands? Well, I must be kinda warped because I had no trouble visualizing it.

And soon after I'd written a couple of the hunting scenes, I made a point to visit a local elk reserve.

And luck was with me, because they had a pair of elk who'd died with antlers locked in combat - stuffed and mounted!

The ranger let me crawl all over the elk and I got to experiment with reach, different holds, etc. It was awesome!

Then the ranger gave me a section of neck vertebrae. I took it to my physical therapist and he verified how best to break the neck.

And you know what? I'd visualized my scenes perfectly.

I know. I'm a sick puppy.

But it was almost like deja vu to wrap my arms around the elks necks. Pretty weird.

Dragons Muse said...

No I think you get the award for most interesting way (if not painless) to do research. Give that husband a pat on the back and a big hug and kiss.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Perhaps punch a related video on Youtube next time. Bad video's leaves bruises only on the memory!

Gotta love your determination and curiosity. And I really enjoy your blog, Roland

J.S. Wood said...

All of you readers are awesome!

And Roh, wow, that's amazing research, I thought you were going to say you actually jumped on a live elk.

Roh Morgon said...


Not unless I was a vampire with super-human strength!

Great topic - thanks for posting it!