In self-defense, hesitation can kill. We’ve talked about that One-Mississippi before, yes? Waiting to act—even when that wait is a natural “Is this really happening?” moment—can mean the difference between striking before the attacker grabs, or having to fight with a bleeding head injury. It can mean the difference between an escape made on your feet or fighting a losing battle the ground.
That push against hesitation must be balanced against circumstances, though. If a drunk gets handsy with me in the pub, I shouldn’t hesitate to stop him… but I should not slam the ridge of my hand against his throat, gouge out an eyeball, and stomp his ribcage until I puncture a lung.
Hesitation can kill a story, too, especially when it comes to emotional impact. We writers shouldn’t shy from realistically portraying the cost of making choices or exploring the consequences of action and inaction. But writers must, too, find a balance—especially when depicting violence in accordance with genre expectations. Continue reading Violence and Viewpoint