Posted on June 19, 2008 - by MG
Editor and I have almost finished working on the manuscript for ICE SHOCK.
We lost a couple of chapters but gained a new opening – a scene I’ve been wanting to write for ages. Benicio visits Josh in Oxford and takes him for an early morning spin in a Muwan, over the dreaming spires of Oxford and out to Josh’s school…yes you’ll finally find out which school Josh attends.
Meanwhile I’m getting deeper into book 3. When I visit kids in schools and libraries, I’m often asked about working titles so I might as well own up that the working title of book 3 is TIGER KIDNAP. I hope it sounds cool, action packed and intrigiung… But it also means something.
Go ahead…Google it…
Today I wrote one of the most difficult scenes I’ve ever written. It wasn’t an action scene – they aren’t particularly easy but that’s about being focused, visualising the action and expressing it in some non-tedious, non-repetitive, ideally thrilling sort of way. No; I was writing a scene where Josh experiences some new and rather teenage emotions. One emotion piles on top of another, sometimes conflicting with each other. Getting that across without wallowing, whilst showing not telling, staying in character as Josh, I find pretty hard.
In terms of what was happening, it was sort of a childish (and for that read very non-adult) version of the brilliant scene of the newlywed’s devastating row at the end of Ian McEwan’s “On Chesil Beach”. In McEwan’s story, two newlyweds have a row which effectively ends their marriage on the night of their wedding. McEwan’s male protagonist has been – although unintentionally – badly hurt by his wife. In revenge, he lashes out in an orgy of of self-stoked, self-justifying anger. Even as he says the words which he knows will end things, he simultaneously enjoys whilst also horrified by his own actions.
I thought McEwan did an amazing job of conveying how lovers can simultaneously enjoy and suffer the process of hurting and tearing down what was between them. Not a nice fact of life but very true.
On a small scale that’s what Josh does in the scene I wrote today, which also takes place on a beach. Josh is unintentionally emotionally wounded by someone…and so he hurts them in return. He’d rather be angry than sad. So he stokes his own anger.
But what I learned from McEwan is that it’s at this point that you lose sympathy for the male character. Self-pitying, self-justifying rage – not too attractive as it turns out!
So I didn’t let Josh enjoy it. Instead, he is shocked to the point of numbness about making this person cry.
Ah but who…?
That would be telling.