I’ve decided that, like me, Layla should get injured.
Yes, that sounds very cold of me. It also sounds like I might be projecting my frustration and pain onto an innocent character who never did me any harm. A character who is, in many ways, my alter ego, or at the very least the woman I want to be if only I were younger, cooler, better looking, better educated, had a super cool job and a lot more money.
It’s also a little extreme because it means more writing. After all, Layla’s story/my novel The Compass Master is finished and just about ready for publication. So if Layla is to suffer an injury, I’ll have to go back into the final quarter of the manuscript and change several scenes. It means that after she’s in a fight with one of the bad guys and gets away, she must sustain an injury that hobbles her actions and even threatens her life.
But you know what? This change could be a very good thing.
So many thriller novels I’ve read and movies I’ve seen – no matter how gritty on the surface – are flat out fantasies when it comes to the consequence of a hero’s injuries. The guy can get hammered and thrown around and lose consciousness for a couple hours, but he still gets up and fights on. She can be blasted by a bomb or hurled against a wall, and she’ll moan and groan but still rally onward. You never, at the end of all the body bashing, see him or her lying barely lucid in a hospital bed, drooling and mumbling and begging for more pain killer, PLEASE.
Not that this describes my recent personal experience in a hospital.
But back to Layla. What kind of injuries will I give her?
A partially collapsed lung and fractured ribs, of course.
It makes perfect sense. Write about what you know, we writers are always being told. Well, I sure as hell know about lungs and ribs. I can tell you all about the sudden and frightening inability to run or even walk fast for fear of passing out because I’m so short of breath. I can describe in detail the pain that spiders across one side of the chest and makes any kind of lifting and carrying nearly impossible and ultimately dangerous. But Layla will still have to lift stuff and run as best she can, and in the process try not to pass out.
I gotta say I’m getting excited about making these changes in my manuscript. They’ll add depth to the character, even more tension to the story, and will feel like a slap of hard reality in scenes that currently might be a little too typical for the genre.
Who knew I would ultimately benefit, in only a literary way, from being banged up by an idiot?
POSTSCRIPT: Here’s a personal note to Robert. I’m still thinking about your crazy and semi-fantasy suggestion about an internet school for action heroes. And maybe soon I can write a semi-fantasy school curriculum that I’ll post here. Might be really fun.