Thursday, 27 July 2006

Screwing the Punch

Janet asked me this after I reported back from the RNA conference:

Hi Fiona,I just read this on yesterday's blog:'The thing that stuck most was the phrase “screw the punch” (a boxing term), meaning deliver the emotional hit, then echo and repeat it, making the situation worse.'Can you remember from the talk what an emotional hit is and how you echo and repeat it. Sounds very interesting, Janet

I replied:
Janet, I'm thinking on this. I don't want to use any examples from my first book because they give away the plot too much. Trying to find a good example. It's one of those "I'll know it when I see it" things that are hard to put into words.

Now, I confess to still having my “L”plates on (learner driver plates for those of you not in the UK) when it comes to talking about "screwing the punch", but I came across an example today. This may not be the best example ever, but it'll do for now.

I was watching You’ve Got Mail and there was a scene where the big emotional hit came and then there were a couple of little emotional ‘ouches’ just to ram the point home:

Kathleen owns a small bookstore which is threatened by the opening of a big discount book store in the same neighbourhood. She doesn’t realise that the man she is starting to fall in love with through an email relationship (Sam) is one of the owners of the store. Neither knows the other’s true identity.

They agree to meet in person. Sam is so excited he tells his friend he would be a fool not to marry this woman, but he turns up at the rendezvous – a little cafĂ© – and discovers the woman he is about to meet is none other than Kathleen and he knows she hates him both professionally and personally (Big punch).

Sam is too nice to leave Kathleen sitting there thinking she has been stood up so he goes inside. She is not pleased to see him but, now he knows that underneath the spiky exterior is the most adorable woman he’s ever met, he tries to build bridges. He tells her she might discover a lot of surprising things about him.

Kathleen tells him she would only discover a cash register instead of a brain and a bottom line where his heart ought to be. (Ouch!) Then goes on to say how she never manages to come out with the perfect retort when faced with a horrible, insensitive person (ouch!) and has just managed it with him.

Sam suspects that Kathleen’s sees the kind, funny man she has met on the internet as the polar opposite to the real Sam Fox and that, in her mind, the two could never be the same person. If he confesses, he will lose her.

He tells her the other guy isn’t here (implying he is) and she tells him that, unlike him, the other guy doesn’t have a cruel bone in his body and has a good reason for not turning up. She ends with the line: “You are nothing but a suit!”. (Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!)

There is an awful silence in which Sam realises there is no hope and he leaves.

Each time Kathleen says something it’s another nail in the coffin for their budding relationship. It had the impact after he first outburst, but after it has been repeated a couple of times in the ensuing conversation, you know that all hope is well and truly dead.

I also think I found an example in one of my books that doesn’t give the whole story away, but this post is long enough already! I might post it tomorrow.

1 comment:

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Thanks for this example Fiona - I think I'm finally understanding this emotional punch stuff!!

Sue :-)