Thursday, June 05, 2008

BOM: The Editing

Photo:  my friend Harry Krauss studying a gun in a writer's workshop. 

If I don't remember the stories in these novels, you can bet I don't remember much about the editing. Yet one incident does stand out, because it represents one of the challenges in writing for the Christian market. 

In one of the books--FLEE, I think--a Navy Seal is captured by some Bad Guys who want to extract information from him. Navy SEALs, may I remind you, are trained to withstand pain and torture. So getting information from this guy is not going to be easy, except--

he has a young, beautiful, civilian wife. 

Well, if you're a Bad Dude, this situation is a no-brainer.  What do you do to get the SEAL to talk?  You torture the wife, of course. 

So I wrote the scene that way.  I wasn't explicit, either--no bamboo shoots beneath the fingernails or anything like that.  I think I had the guy hit her a couple of times.  Or break a few fingers. 

Well . . . no go.  That scene got flagged in the editing process.  No torturing of women, I was told.  

I protested that the scene made no sense without the threat of violence to the wife. The bad guys had to have something to hang over the SEAL's head, or he wasn't going to talk. 

So . . . I was allowed to SHOOT AND KILL the woman.  I just couldn't hit her. 

(Well, if you had to choose, wouldn't you rather be smacked than shot?)

Anyway: shooting--okay.  Hitting--not okay. 

I know, it makes no sense.  But I strive to be a team player, so I wrote the scene as best I could.  Some mountains are simply not worth dying on.  

And I should point out that this happened years ago. Sensibilities have changed a lot since I wrote that scene, and I think today I could write a scene that would be painful enough without offending readers' sensibilities. 

But for today, at least, I'm glad I don't have to.  I found a much quieter way to murder my latest victim . . . 



Mocha with Linda said...

That's funny in a warped way. We are definitely weird in what we think is okay.

A much quieter way to murder, huh?!

No wonder your husband gave you so many flowers for your anniversary!! LOL

BTW, I just got Harry Kraus' newest book. I really enjoy his stories. Shoulda guessed he learned some tricks of the trade from you!

Angela said...

LOL about the flowers, Linda. But Harry didn't learn anything from me--we were actually in a workshop being taught by Tom Morrissey, who is the go-to guy whenever you need info on guns, etc. He helped me a lot in THE FACE because I needed a gun for a blind man . . .

You kinda have to read it. :-)


Anonymous said...

After attending a recent lecture under the auspices of David Horowitz' Freedom Center, entitled "Women of Islam", wherein we heard their horrific tales of the torture of stoning and other atrocities visited upon these women and their friends, I have a particular horror to hearing or reading about any or all forms of torture. Instant death is surely a blessing in these cases. I wonder whether your editors had any clue as to how GENTLE you were being as compared to real life in the world of today's radical Islamists? The faith of these women in the face of such horror is beyond incredible! Clyde

P.S. On a lighter note, does your "quieter way" have anything to do with Brandilynn's snake?

Angela said...

You are so right, Clyde--while I was reading A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, I happened to discover a CNN special called "Beyond the Veil," a feature on Islamic women. Oh, my! How those women are abused, berated, tortured--it's depicted in SPLENDID SUNS, but it was awful to see it in real video. Dozens of women are choosing self-immolation rather than to continue to live in those abusive marriages. Truly shattering to watch.

(And I highly recommend that book, BTW.)


Lisa said...

Just got caught up on this week's posts. I enjoyed the books I've read by Harry Kraus. I still cannot find SAWR in the stores. I'm going to have to do amazon or something.