For the past several weeks I have agonized over one particular scene. It’s an important scene. Plot happens. Torture happens. Characters react in various ways to said torture, thus revealing more about who they are as people and making the book quite a bit more profound than it would have been otherwise.
I don’t know how to torture someone.
Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s quite annoyed at having researched proper torture techniques. I mean, who wants to know that stuff?
This scene was extremely difficult to write both because I didn’t know anything about torture and because I didn’t know how to properly convey someone being tortured. I almost tried scrap the scene, to just “fade to black” and let the Reader’s imagine what was going on, then come back later during the rescue.
But I couldn’t do that because the scene really does reveal more about the relationship between our hero and the antagonist. It shows how far both are willing to go to get what they want.
And I knew that if I scrapped it, I would be cheating myself out of a growth moment as a writer.
Writing the hard scenes is what helps challenge us as writers.
Yes, we need editors to help us do that too. Yes, we need to read books that help us grasp story structure and characterization.
But we also need to face those scenes that frighten us because it is only through those scenes or genres or points of view that we can truly take ownership of our craft.
I wrote a torture scene.
It took me several weeks and I cringed while I was doing it, but I know (and the Readers will know) just who these two people are because of it.