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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » For the purposes of my book, question:

   
Author Topic: For the purposes of my book, question:
Susannaj4
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What is the worst thing a woman can do to a man that will make other men fear her? I have my own idea on this but feel that the way I wrote it is something that would definitely make a man's skin crawl. So, for the purposes that I would like for someone to keep reading once this thing has happened, what's the worst thing a woman could do to another man that will make other men fear her, that won't make you throw the book across the room because she did it?
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tchernabyelo
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One word.


Bobbitt.


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Beth
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being smarter than a man is usually sufficient.
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tchernabyelo
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Nah, men can treat that with the denial response.

Bobbitting cannot be denied.


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Jaz
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I would tend to agree. Anything that in any way hurts/damages/belittles that very masculine area will make any man fear a certain woman.

It doesn't even have to be as extreme as the above mentioned incident - although every man squirms when he hears/sees that name. I know I do.


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Beth
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ooh, you could also just have his dog neutered. it's kind of a proxy thing for a lot of men.
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Susannaj4
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He doesn't have a dog, accept in his pants. But I did do the bobbit, if that's what you want to call it. Ooh, but that leads me to something else, I should keep him alive as a reminder for anyone who tries to cross her. Make him a eunuch. Not a very useful one. A man who has been 'crippled' emotionally by the loss of his manhood, especially in a violent way.

You don't think that's too viscious and disturbing?(I ask now that I have gained my composure)


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pjp
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The "Bobbitt Gambit" seems weak in my opinion, and lacking creativity. I'd keep wondering why she was left alive, or not in the very least, tortured more severely in return.

Also, don't forget that Bobbitt had it surgically re-attached, and went on to perform in an adult movie.

I think something emotional and psychological would be more devastating. I guess it depends on the reader.


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Susannaj4
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Well, for this particular character, he used this tool as a means of punishment for many people on different psychological levels. So it seemed only fitting that it be removed by the Priestess. I wanted her to 'serve' justice, but in her usual manner.
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wbriggs
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Was that "serve," or "sever"?

I think I'd need more info to comment. If it's a bloody ritual sort of thing, yes, Bobbit or castration -- especially if she does it to the king. If it's modern, she could frame him for rape. Or she could do something that's not really gender-related: remember Fatal Attraction. Cook his rabbit, or come after his family with a knife.


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Survivor
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It depends on the man and the group of men in whom she wishes to inspire fear. But more than that, it depends on whether she can do it again.

pjp has an important point, any woman can pull a "Bobbitt", yet men don't generally fear women because of that. The more subtle point is that inspiring fear is a business of presenting a threat that cannot be easily dismissed. Now, if your Priestess has the power to take just anyone and cut off bits without constraint, and it is known that she can do this, then she will be feared even if she has never done it and never will.

Fear is not a matter of what someone has done in the past, it's a matter of what you cannot prevent that person from doing in the near future. A six year old with a .45 is scary, not because he's ever shot anyone before but because he might do so in the near future.

As for "pulling a Bobbitt", you need to clearly distinguish what you're saying here. Do you mean something like total castration, or are you really talking only about removing part of the penis? Because while most men wouldn't like having a shorter penis, it's not the same thing as having your balls removed.


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Survivor
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Oh, and avert your eyes, kids, because I'm about to make a suggestion.

Does she perhaps have a...okay, I decided not to suggest that


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Susannaj4
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I'm curious Survivor. Does she have a what?

She is the High Priestess and a Vampire. She wants to make her 'husband' for all tense and purposes as well as her sons(These men technically should be more powerful than she) fear her. She has done worse things, but she can't very well give a warning, expect them to follow directions without there being consequences. So this guy(also a Vampire) stuck it in the wrong place and well, lost it.

She also fools her 'husband' into having sex with her and creates another child. So in a sense she likes to use it as a weapon and sort of makes a sport of the castration, in more than one way. She does remove his balls. That's why I said eunuch. Though I guess that would mean he kept the organ. hmm.


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sholar
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I can't finish the sentence either which makes me really curious. Of course, I am really naive so knowing might scar me for life.
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dckafka
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Hmmm. I agree the Bobbit thing is pretty obvious.

Here's a possibility. A mystery woman walks into a room. Every man present instantly senses that, with two minutes of small talk, she could walk out with any (and I mean any) woman in the room. It doesn't matter how handsome, strong, wealthy or charming he is, or how devoted his partner. Our mystery woman can effortlessly snip the tie that binds and become the object of the partner's affection.

Emasculating, without all the messy clean-up.


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sholar
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On dckafka's suggestion- wouldn't most guys just find that totally hot?
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Susannaj4
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Yeah, I don't want them to find her hot. No drooling. I want them to hate her, loathe her. No matter what she looks like or how charismatic she is. She's the bad guy.
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wbriggs
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Emotional danger can also terrify. But then the man has to be a willing party. A Han Solo would laugh at it.
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Susannaj4
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Turst me, He was willing. It was the sort of character I made him. He's a minor character, but thought only of women as playthings.Something he did in his spare time. But it was an integral part of who he was. So the emascualtion had to mental and physical.
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Survivor
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Okay...we're not talking about humans, here. We're talking about vampires. So I doubt...it depends on the setup, but I doubt that they actually fear castration above all else. I could be wrong, but you're the one that said vampire.

Total castration implies removal of the penis as well as the testicles and scrotum. It's messy and potentially fatal...in humans and most mammals, anyway.

You need to get something very clear here...how does she exert power other than through fear? This is an important point people often miss, but there has to be at least the perception that she has enough sincere backing to carry out her threats. Fear is also a very short ranged motivation, both in time and space. It takes incredible amounts of fear to control a person over distances of miles or days, let alone years and continents. And vampires can hardly hide themselves (a necessity for your story) if they're all locked in a bunker near a population center.

No amount of fear can substitute for having at least a few genuine followers. Indeed, it is hardly possible that you can generate much fear if you don't at least pretend to have a few fanatically loyal minions. Unless you are individually obviously more powerful than those you're intimidating.

As for what I was going to suggest, it involved a stallion, or perhaps a bull. She could feast on it. It would be tasty...oh wait, she's a vampire. I guess not, then.


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sholar
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Rocky Mountain Oysters? Yum, yum.
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CoriSCapnSkip
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That's what the vets did to my cat when he developed urinary tract problems. Except for the "yum, yum" part. We still call him "he" for courtesy. He still acts as ornery as a tom, or, maybe it's just resentment.
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Robert Nowall
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I would have thought, "marry him," but that'll only make the first man fear her...
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Susannaj4
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I feel like I opened a can of worms and that It isn't understood what exactly has happened(in the story).

1) She works alone, on purpose.
2) She manipulates you into anything.
3) She controls the Elements and can control the mind.

I eventually re wrote the scene and I have him break it himself and then she removes the testicles. I also have her curse him so that he cannot lose this flesh. She went overboard, but that was my point. She had just fooled her mate into thinking that she was someone else and she was angry with the situation. She decided to take that moment to administer punishment to someone who needed to be punished, but it should have waited until she was in a better frame of mind.


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dckafka
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"I want them to hate her, loathe her. No matter what she looks like or how charismatic she is. She's the bad guy."

I think your approach is part of what's making this hard to do for you. Hate her, loathe her, she's the bad guy. That sort of visceral reaction isn't something your going to get by coming at it head on. There's no explicit action that in and of itself is going to make men fear and loathe your character. No, not even neutering. In fact, the harder you charge head on at making her every man's worst nightmare, the more you wind up with a cardboard cut-out; and a screening of Brokeback Mountain is more threatening to men than that.

Try making your approach more oblique. Fear and loathing is tough to achieve and maintain and the best villians always have a psychological texture that fascinates us in spite of ourselves. "Pure evil" is boring. There must be something about your character that fascinates the male reader, even as he hates and loathes her.


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Susannaj4
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I've written it already and I like what I wrote. I just wanted to make sure that it was publishable.
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dckafka
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Ah. Off you go, then.
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Jammrock
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The Bobbitt thing is certainly a fear. It will make men reject her, probably ignore her forever and possibly hate in a proxy sort of way, but fear "her" specifically ... probably not. Men would fear the act, not necessarily the person who does it.

If you want your character to make men fear her, you must attack men at their weakest point, their emotions. Emotionally destroy them, be a total *itch, tear apart their libido. When someone tries to interfere, tear them apart, too. Essentially, spousal abuse to the extreme.

Physical attacks men can typically defend, emotional attacks, not so well.

Jammrock

[This message has been edited by Jammrock (edited April 12, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Okay, if she has mind control and elemental magic powers, I don't see how you can state that anyone is "technically more powerful" unless they are immune to both mind control and physical attack.

It's also unnecessary for her to inspire fear, if she wants someone to fear her, she can just use mind control.

Or do you mean that you want us, the readers, to fear her? I'm afraid that's a much taller order. At least, making an example of a fictional character in your book doesn't do much. We need to care deeply about a character in the book and the threat she presents to that character. And...this may just be me, but...no matter how much I care about fictional characters, I don't care if they get castrated. The qualities of a fictional character who captures my interest have nothing to do with whether or not that character has working male genitals.

I'm just saying, the more you reveal about this idea, the less I can understand the point. Or more accurately, the less I think that my complete failure to see the point is because you haven't revealed it rather than because there isn't one.


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Susannaj4
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Ok Survivor, (I hate defending myself esp. after being blasted on this site for it.) Here's the deal. She wants her mate to fear her because she is going to have another of his children and he doesn't want her to hurt the child. So she was buying an insurance policy with Salen. Seth isn't afraid of Abi on a physical level, but is afraid of her lack of compassion and caring. HE is afraid for his son. And in the end she ultimately does what he feared she would do.


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dckafka
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I'm afraid I agree with Survivor. The emascuation thing doesn't work for me. It seems an awkward character/plot driver. Feels forced and gratuitous.
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pjp
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Susannaj4:

I think the sentiment of "forced and gratuitous" is both warranted, and possibly misplaced. I think it could be misplaced simply because it is the focus of this thread, while it probably doesn't amount to much volume in the story.

I think it could be warranted if this act (or similar) is a significant part of why she is feared. I did read your last post regarding fear for his son, so you may have established that already.

I recommend Homeland (Amazon.com) as a good example of how a powerful and feared matriarchal society can be done. (It is a Dungeons & Dragons book, but don't let that dissuade you. It's a quick read, and well done, IMO).


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Susannaj4
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You know, I asked a question and it was answered. No one has read any of it so no one knows how it plays into anything.

Thanks PjP. You are right.


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hoptoad
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Didn't read most posts. (I admit it)

'Bobbitting' would make your eyes water but Loreena got locked up and John Wayne went on to be a porn star...

In my opinion you would have to do something to him that everyone suspected but no one could prove -- like a razor-blade imbedded in his bicycle seat -- out of sight until he sits on it.


PS:

quote:

I've written it already and I like what I wrote. I just wanted to make sure that it was publishable.

So, what's the verdict? The only way to get that sort of advice is to try and get it published, or get it fully critiqued, or send it to a manuscript assessor.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited April 12, 2006).]


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Kickle
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Assuming we are discussing hetrosexual males, I think they fear homosexuality even more than castration--at least the guys around here do.
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hoptoad
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Define 'around here'.

I learned a new word the other day: 'trolling'.

Not that you don't have a point. Maybe the woman could turn out to be a bloke, or a former bloke.


As for me? I am afraid of anything-o-sexuals. That is why I live in a hollow sequoia far away from society.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited April 12, 2006).]


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Kickle
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"Around here" would be the small maple tree I live in and the red-necks I share it with.
I just figured that if the vampiress had so many powers, then she could simply make a man think he was gay--not all the time, just long enough to freak him out and amuse herself.

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Susannaj4
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Well, assuming that a creature is from our time he might, but these people(I used that term loosely) enjoy anthing that involves the human existence. But one knowing that he could never experience sex again, and he took flesh specifically for the purpose of copulation, then the loss of that and having to stay in that flesh, unable to lose it and take new, unable to rejuvenate himself in any way is more damaging to this particular character. He'd enjoy the aspect of exploring his male companions in other words. Not only did she take that away, but she made him do part of it to himself and he couldn't controll what he was doing. So I carried it a bit further and added a little magic in there. The Element of earth is something they controll and she used that against him since his flesh is from the ground. So it wasn't just the Bobbit thing, it was a crushing of his Essence and imprisoning him in essentially useless flesh(For him). I think that's far worse than removing something only to go and get another one. But stuck in a situation with no way out and being an example to others who get out of line. Each of them have certain aspects of the human condition that they revel in. So they figure if she could take his enjoyment/life away, she can take theirs too. Is that a better explanation or are there still holes in my train of thought?
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Survivor
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I don't have any idea why you called them vampires by now.

Okay, let's see if I can phrase these questions clearly.

In whom do you want to inspire fear of this character?

Why?

That wasn't clear at all, was it?

Look, all I'm saying is that the longer this goes on, the less I feel like I understand what you're trying to do here. If you really are satisfied with the answer you've gotten, then I suppose I'll leave it at that. But so far I genuinely have no clue what point this scenario will make.


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Fahrion Kryptov
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Back to the original question, I think that probably the best way to instill fear would be to have her at least seem omniscient, especially if she had some sort of SS-type group that everyone knows about but no one ever sees. Those who offend her are publicly brought out and viciously punished and humiliated. Being a vampire, she could be impossible to find except when an offender is being punished. As for those punishments, bobbitting might work, or something different for each victim.

That's my two cents worth.
-Fahrion Kryptov


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Susannaj4
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Wow, Survivor, maybe I'm wasting my time with the whole entire book.
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Survivor
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More likely I'm the one wasting my time trying to get clarity out of this discussion.

That's not terribly infrequent, though. A book may be a linear experience for the reader, but it's almost never a linear experience for the writer. Nothing about writing is a straight line endeavor. So there is a lot of time invested in research, plotting, character development, prose, and what have you that just doesn't make it into the final work. Sometimes it doesn't make it into any later work either, it really was just a waste of time. I waste a lot of my time, that's part of being a writer. I don't like it, but I accept it.

I don't know what answer you got from this thread, but in the end it's your answer, not mine. I wish it were the case that I could feel that I've helped you, but I can't see that I have. That's no terribly uncommon. It often turns out that I'm simply unable to give assistance. And not infrequently the cause has to do with my lack of understanding of the desired objectives of the person I'm attempting to assist. Not just in writing, it often happens that when I try to help someone with, say, moving furniture or cleaning up or whatever.

My sister has an amusing story about her conflict with a roommate one time. One of them felt that tidying the kitchen involved putting all the dirty dishes in the sink, the other felt that tidying the kitchen involved clearing the dishes out of the sink. As a result these two spent an aweful lot of time moving dishes from the sink to the counter next to the sink. I'm sure all of us could tell similar stories.

So fine, I'll assume that my help is not going to be helpful. Hope that helps


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pjp
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quote:
Well, assuming that a creature is from our time [...] or are there still holes in my train of thought?
It works for me in a general sense. I'd have to read the book in order to really comment on whether I think it works or not. I'm not sure they sound all that vampire like, but then again, I've never read a vampire book (The Lost Boys movie w/Kiefer Sutherland is my favorite V movie though).

Assuming you finish the story, and post it here for review, I'd be interested in reading it.

Just remember that not every story will be for every reader. (Wasn't certain if your "wasting time" comment was sarcasm, or a sign of genuine discouragement).

[This message has been edited by pjp (edited April 14, 2006).]


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Susannaj4
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I was genuinely discouraged.

Now having said that, I'm not anymore and Survivor you help me more than you know.

Without having a proper frame of reference it's hard to say that they are or aren't vampires.

I understand that. Now. I also understand that without reading the book, no one knows how it fits or doesn't fit. I'll figure it out. Thanks for all your input.


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Survivor
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I love it when resorting to paradox actually helps
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Robert Nowall
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Appear in public without makeup?
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Susannaj4
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But I rarely wear make up. Hmm. I never thought of it as punishing people. I'll have to think about that one too.


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Survivor
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I suppose it also depends on the woman in question, not just the men.
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