Friday, January 26, 2007

Most Powerful Image: Jack Bauer in 24

I wanted to post a photo of that moment in the first episode of Season 6, after Jack Bauer is tied to the chair, awaiting more torture and certain death. I want a picture of that moment when he rips the guard's neck open with his teeth, blood gushing from his lips. Even the moment when Jack holds the guard's dead body in his arms, blood smeared across his face.

I can't get that image out of my mind, not after two whole weeks.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don't think I could create that moment in a hundred thousand words. There's something so animalistic about it. Something that gets you in the gut, that makes you wonder if you could do the same thing. Even faced with certain death, could you rip into some guy's neck with your teeth until he dies in your arms?

Holy shit.

(You can view this season's episodes of 24 online!) And hey, if anyone can find an image of that moment, I would LOVE a copy. I want to hang it on my wall by my desk, so I know what I'm aiming for in my writing. I also have a picture of Stephen King on the wall, one of the freaky ones that scare me into writing, and remind me that I can't write superficially. You know, my whole "dig deeper" motto.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter made me gasp out loud. I don't remember any other novel ever doing that to me. It also made my mouth drop open in shock. Until that moment, I hadn't realized that my mouth hadn't dropped open in years.

Question of the Day: How do you make a reader gasp out loud in shock? How do you put a visual in a reader's mind, one so powerful that they can't stop thinking about it, long after they've finished the book?

I don't know, but I know it's got something to do with the gut.

By the way, I officially take back what I said about Greg Rucka's Tara Chace. Who says I won't listen when several people tell me I'm full of shit? *grins* I picked up Private Wars today, and ... holy cow. How can one not be gripped by that opening? I also tried A Gentleman's Game again, and I'm afraid I still couldn't get into it.

It might be the ADD thing. When I'm cheating with cheese and dairy here and there, an author is lucky if he/she can keep my attention for a sentence. Still ... I'll try Gentleman's Game after I read Private Wars. Maybe it'll be better.

Private Wars, on the other hand, is probably worth a later review. In fact, it'll probably be sooner than later. :-)

15 bonus scribbles:

Erik Ivan James 1/26/2007 06:14:00 PM  

To your question of the day, Spyscribbler.

I believe that most, if not all, of us have that level of "shock value" within us. The question for me, is do I have the courage to bring it out and put it into words. Or, am I too afraid of what I might find deep within myself.

On your other question---could I kill another with my teeth? Yes, if it meant the difference of my life or that of a loved one.

writtenwyrdd 1/26/2007 06:18:00 PM  

I think erik has it: Do we dare let it out? I was thinking about this the other day when I realized I'd toned down the darkness.

We can tweak the wording, but first we must dare to express the darkness in our own hearts. If we cannot show this part of ourselves, we can't put it in the writing. IMO anyhow.

If you can, rent Dexter when it comes out on DVD. I loved the book, but the visuals of the tv show wrench the guts in an entirely different (dare I say visceral?) way.

Kate S 1/26/2007 06:41:00 PM  

I think erik and writtenwrydd have the right idea--the question is, do we have the courage to bring it out?

I think about it--I start it--then I back off. Maybe that's why it's easier to write paranormals sometimes. I had an idea for a werewolf story and in one scene the mother wolf rips out a guy's throat as he's about to shoot her son/cub.

I really enjoyed the imagery of her crunching through the bones in his neck and the blood bursting out--I could feel her rage and satisfaction because that's what I'd like to do to certain people who have hurt my kid. I think those stories give us a "safe" place to put some of our darker thoughts.

StarvingWriteNow 1/26/2007 06:45:00 PM  

Hooray for Dexter! I still remember reading those books, for certain. I'm not sure what makes me gasp--or cringe, as the case may be--but I'm fairly certain that in those stories where that has happened for me, I am so deeply involved I'm living it. I'm putting myself in the characters shoes, or the author is touching on some private fear or pain that is my own. And the thing of it is, you may be writing something that is matter of course for your story, but jaw-dropping shocking for your reader. You never know.

Aimless Writer 1/26/2007 07:20:00 PM  

Question of the Day: How do you make a reader gasp out loud in shock?

If I knew this maybe I'd be published!
I think ripping emotions from someone is the hardest part and the part that makes it sell.

Nice blog you got spy.

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 10:21:00 PM  

Well, Erik, no surprise there. You did say you were an Alpha male. :-)

I agree with you, and everyone, it seems, that it takes courage. It's no walk in the park to dig down and bring that stuff out. I keep catching myself bein' lazy. Or wimpy, whichever. No more of that!

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 10:25:00 PM  

Kate, wow. You had me with that imagery. Seriously. Only you can know if it fits your story, but ... if you write it, I'll buy it. That's a promise.

I think you're on to something, Starvingwritenow. We have to be able to relate to it, somehow.

Thanks, aimless! Isn't that the truth?

The Dark Scribe 1/26/2007 10:36:00 PM  

Jack Bauer is freakin' awesome.

You bring up an interesting point. When I think about some of the recent books I've read (and even some of the not-so-recent), I sometimes get a crystal clear image. There's the story, sure, and the characters, many of whom I could have done without. But then there's that one moment that stayed with me, where I could practically taste the air.

The ability to populate your novel with those moments is essential, but also one of the most difficult (and rewarding) tasks as an author. On television, 24 is successful at this, and before JJ Abrams got a bug up his ass about directing a movie instead of working on Alias and Lost, both of those shows had moments as well.

Anyway, great topic. My heartrate is finally slowing back down to hyper-light-speed after the opening episodes of 24...just in time to watch the new episode :P

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 11:36:00 PM  

Dark Scribe, I think JJ Abrams is one amazing talent. Sometimes his twists take my breath away.

I'm interested to see what he does with Star Trek XI. I love Star Trek, and if anyone can save that world, it would be JJ Abram. Please say it'll be so!

Bernita 1/27/2007 08:03:00 AM  

Unexpected brutality.
The idea, first of all.
Then not castrated by weak images.

spyscribbler 1/27/2007 08:22:00 AM  

It's magic! Ask a question, get an answer!

Good answer! Thank you!

writtenwyrdd 1/27/2007 08:53:00 AM  

But it occurs to me on reading these comments, that you can go too far... Like in Hannibal where he fries and eats the brains of a living victim right in front of him. That's just G.R.O.S.S.

And Kate has a great point. Writing fantasy and science fiction does give me a buffer with which to distance my horrific ideas I paint bloody on the page. Otherwise, I'd be embarrassed at what others might think of me, lol.

spyscribbler 1/27/2007 10:18:00 AM  

Good point, writtenwyrrd. Just to make things more difficult, I'm betting everyone has a different "too far" level. That scene would definitely push my 'gross!' level!

The Dark Scribe 1/27/2007 10:37:00 AM  

I don't mean to knock JJ Abrams. He's one of the most inventive television writers out there.

I just wish he didn't suffer from ADHD, and could stick with one project through its end, so the majority of the writing and directing didn't get handed off to some slacker who doesn't have a clue.

Just saying...

spyscribbler 1/27/2007 11:20:00 AM  

Dark Scribe, I wholeheartedly agree with you. :-) With both your first post and your second. You are so right!