Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Novel Writers are Evil

That's a fellow author told me the other day. Of course, she didn't mean it literally, (I hope), although she had a point. Some of the things we novel writers do to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.

I was telling her about Scott, one of the antagonists in The Deception. Let's face it. Scott isn't the nicest guy on the planet. He's a married man who put himself out as a single guy, and his actions hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie, my leading lady. Once she and her friends figure out that Scott's stories aren't adding up she ditches him, and I'd planned on writing him out of the story at that point. Then someone else told me, no, I couldn't just write him off so quickly. Readers would expect him to be punished for what he did, and they'd be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away, so I took the advice. Later on in the book Scott is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and he gets his comeuppance in the form of a humiliating strip search. I then told my fellow author that I went online and read testimonials by real people who've had this experience, and I based Scott's story on those real-life accounts. That's when she looked at me and said, "You novel writer's are evil." What can I say? She wrote a memoir, while I write fiction. Below is a short excerpt. You be the judge.

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Scott let out a sigh. He was trapped in a nightmare he couldn't wake up from. They arrived at the jail and once again he was taken into another small room for questioning. The door opened and a thirty-something blonde woman entered, taking her seat across the table from him.

"Finally, a friendly face."

"Hello there, Scott. My name is Deputy U.S. Marshall Diane Hall, and I'll be taking care of your booking. After we're finished, Billie Hughes, with the Phoenix FBI office, wants to talk with you." She handed Scott over to two male deputies. Once again, he was taken away be photographed and fingerprinted. When they finished he was escorted into another room.

"Okay," said one of the deputies. "I want you to slowly and carefully remove each item of your clothing, one at a time, and hand it over so we can inspect it."

"Why?"

"It's routine, sir. Take off the shirt, then your shorts, and your shoes and socks."

Scott did as he was told. When he was done, he was standing in his underwear.

"Did you not hear me, buddy? Remove your drawers and hand them over."

"What? Then I'll be standing here naked."

"That's why we call it a strip search."

"What! Are you kidding me? Why are you doing this? I've been accused of a non-violent crime."

"Sorry, it's routine. You're going into the general jail population. We have to search you for contraband."

For the first time in his life, he knew the feeling of being violated. It was the most humiliating experience of his life and the deputy seemed to be taking an unusually long time. When they finally finished, they led him to a shower. They watched him while he showered, and handed him an orange jail suit with a pair of open-toed rubber shoes when he was done. As soon as he was dressed, he was taken to an interview room, where Billie Hughes was waiting. As he took his seat, she opened her folder, removed a photo, and pushed it across the table toward him.


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