From the Frying Pan into the Fire


In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Sheriff of Nottingham declares that he wants to cut Robin Hood’s heart out with a spoon.

Guy of Gisborne: Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe?
Sheriff of Nottingham: Because it’s DULL, you twit. It’ll hurt more.

I’ve had a migraine for the past day and a half. My head feels like it’s in a vice clamp that is forever being tightened while an ice pick is being driven through my left eye. I’m light, sound, smell and touch sensitive. I’m hungry and nauseous all day. I can’t sleep because my head hurts too much. I can’t do anything because that requires me to look or hear or touch something.

What do I mean by sensitive? When I sit up straight at my desk at work, my cube wall is low enough that I can see the row of lights above the aisle next to me. I never notice…until I have a migraine, then I can’t slouch low enough to block the piercingly bright light.

Whenever I get a migraine, I think of the Sheriff’s quote because no matter how dull that spoon is, my head and eye hurt worse. And all I want to do is carve out the pain.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, other than the fact that I haven’t done much of it lately, it has to do with characters and how I write them.

In order to write a scene, I get into the head of that scene’s main character. I try to feel what they feel so that I can describe it better.

I rarely inflict physical pain on my characters. Emotional? No problem. Physical? I avoid.

Of course, it helps that my characters don’t play with guns or run with scissors. But I wonder, am I just protecting myself?

When you have to hurt your characters, which do you focus on? Which would you rather act out? Which would you rather read about?


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