Thursday, February 03, 2011

The perfect introduction

One of my favourite movies is Silence of the Lambs. I watched just part of it last night, reallly only one scene. The part where Clarice meets Hannibal Lector for the first time.
And it's perfect. The walk down to just get into the cell, where the prison warden warns Clarice about Lector with the tale of the nurse he attacked. Then, the rules, don't get close to the glass, don't give him anything, and then, they close the door after her as she walks down the long corridor towards Lector's glass enclosed cell. By this time we are expecting a monster, not the civil man who greets her.

It's done perfectly. The buildup of tension is ridiculously good, and the reversal of expectation doesn't reduce the tension at all.

I watched that and realized, whether I'm introducing the hero in a romance, or the big bad in a YA, I've never built up to it as well as I could. My last book, I had a scene where the hero has a walk home, walks into his home and is introduced to the antagonist in a way that was completely anti-climatic and didn't reveal as much as should have about the bad guy.

That first meeting in the Iron Duke is done pretty amazingly well. There is a lovely build up to Mina's first viewing of the man.

Just another thing to keep in mind as I edit and try to squeeze every last thing out of every scene.

5 comments:

Eileen said...

That first moment is so important. It can tell so much. Confrontations? Even more revealing.

Good point about Silence, though. It's part of what made Hannibal so terrifying. That civilized exterior was so misleading.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I think there are some bars we can't hold ourselves too - it's just not fair to try and create an intorduction as good as that one. Just like it's impossible to create a bad guy so compelling - let's leave Silence Of The Lambs out of our equation. Please. I just can't handle that kind of pressure....

Stephanie Doyle said...

I agree... Silence of the Lambs reigns as far as introductions and bad guys go...

But Sinead great point about the Iron Duke. In thinking about what made him seem so larger than life... there was build up. There was this sense of what he did, what he looked like, who he was...

By the time he walked on teh page I was SOOOO looking forward to him.

Which of course made me immediately connect with him.

I'm totally keeping that in mind...

Sinead M said...

I know that standard is stupidly high, and really, it could kill any productivity trying to get to this.

Molly, have you read the maze runner. I loved how they introduced the monster in that one. First as a glimpse through a keyhole, then as an imminent threat, and then full scale attack.
It built the tension of the monster perfectly.

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