Keeping It Fresh: Being Original About Endangering the Hero

I'm about to write a scene in which the hero is captured by bad guys and interrogated after which he is surely to be killed if he doesn't do something remarkable or get himself rescued. 

I'm considering not even doing the scene because it has been done so many times.  The possibility of making this kind of scene fresh is almost nil.  What do you think? Should we discard certain set pieces as overdone, or keep on struggling to make them original (somehow)?  Jack Bauer has pretty much exhausted the possibilities.

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I'd still do it. You just need to work out a different approach. Believe me, it can be done some kind of way. That's what us writers do, rack our brains until we come up with different approaches.

You know what I'd do? I don't know what setting your novel is in, but I'd have the bad guys intimidate the hero with some kind of animal. It's been done before (but everything has), and it's more unique than the typical scene where the hero is beat up.

For example:

1) Why not have them bound the hero up and the bad guys have a poisonous snake or some other exotic, deadly animal? Say they leave him tied up and in the room with it? Now that would be FULL of tension and heck, would keep folks reading! I know I would want to see how the bounded hero got out of that!

2) Have them throw him in a gate full of hungry pit bulls and he has to fight his way out unless he tells them what they want to know. Let him fight for his life, LOL.

3) How about take a tip from the Saw movies? You don't have to go overboard but have it where these guys torture him a bit for him to tell, then once again he fights for his life.

4) Go old school. Have them bound him to something in the street and let them threaten to run over him if he doesn't tell.


The possibilities are endless! Sure, these things might have been done before but everything has. You won't find any different ways but the best way is to be unique. I think I gave some tips you don't see in "interrogations" everyday, LOL!

I also think a scene like what I described would be far more interesting than the old, "beat the good guy up until he talks in the alley."

Have fun and experiment! That's the great thing about writing fiction. You CAN write anything you want and make it believeable. It's fiction, LOL!

Also, don't worry about Jack Bauer. I guarantee all your readers won't have seen 24. For instance, I've NEVER seen the show so whatever he's done, would be unknown to me.

And before Bauer you had MacGyver. Now THAT was someone who knew how to get himself out some odd situations. I swear one time he disarmed a bomb with a toenail, LOL!

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
Or of course, it could be the hero's dog who's tortured in front of his eyes. But wait, Peta and any number of soft-hearted readers would object violently to that. The same is not true when the hero gets tortured in front of his dog.

You see how difficult this can become?
My chihuahua would never permit such an atrocity.
Lucky you! :)
I agree IJ. You could chop a human being into tiny pieces and put him on little hooks for fish to nibble at - but you lay one hand on the head of an innocent little puppy and you're the Devil. It's so hard to explain to these people that 1) the bad guys torturing the doggy don't EXIST in real life and 2) the DOGGY doesn't exist in real life and 3) I personally have never hurt a doggy in MY life and 4) please feel free to GET a life.

You know what I did once? I tied my protagonist to a gravestone and had her tortured. Her arm and ribs were broken and there were two very large men standing between her and the rest of a goddam graveyard in the middle of goddam nowhere. You can imagine how hard it was for me to figure out how I was going to get her out of that.

I ended up having to go back and re-write the scene so that she'd dropped her gun near a little kid who she'd thought was dead. Then the kid (who isn't dead, just very badly hurt) shoots and kills the two bad guys.

But imaging the response if I'd replaced the kid with a white Anglo-saxon male and the bad guys with a pit bull!
I don't know, pit bulls don't seem to endear themselves to people any more than alligators or snakes.
A terrier then
It's all about the characters. Or are wedding scenes out now too?

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