Sep 09 2010

Please Don’t Use “Is That a Threat?”

Published by at 9:46 pm under Dialogue,Fixing Cliches

I roll my eyes whenever a character asks another “Is that a threat?“*  The question is almost always a setup for a third-rate one-liner. Here are some responses that are usually poor.

  • “No. It’s a promise!” This is ludicrously cliche. If you’re hooked on that line, I’d recommend coming up with a different contrast. Maybe “It’s an opportunity” or “It’s a lesson” or whatever fits the situation.
  • “Yes,” “Absolutely” or any other generic yes answer. Generally, when a character has made a threat, the threat is so patently obvious that the question is completely unnecessary.  Unless the threat is unclear, “Is that a threat?”/”Yes” will only waste two sentences and make the first character come off as mentally slow.
  • “Take it any way you like.” This is pretty bland and cliche. I think this is usually a missed opportunity to come up with a dodge more uniquely tailored to the character and circumstances.  For example, if a distant father implies that his son will get cut off from the trust fund unless his grades improve, the father might respond to “Is that a threat?” with an action or line that suggests how unconcerned he is about what his son thinks.  Maybe he lights up a cigarette or dismissively changes the subject with something like “Chardonnay?”
  • No, it’s a fact.” Also cliche.

*”Is that blackmail?” raises similar problems.

Writing exercise: Write a scene that effectively uses “Is that a threat?”

73 responses so far

73 Responses to “Please Don’t Use “Is That a Threat?””

  1. B. Macon 09 Sep 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Here are some dialogues that use “Is that a threat?” What do you think?

    DETECTIVE 1: Surrender now or there will be dire consequences.
    CRIMINAL: Is that a threat?
    DETECTIVE 2: I will cut off your head and use it as a soccer ball.
    DETECTIVE 1: That’s a threat.



    ALIEN: Few things please [the alien’s species] more than eating uncooperative humans.
    HUMAN: Is that a threat?
    ALIEN: No, it’s more of an acquired taste. OR: No, it’s more of a lifestyle choice. OR: More of a treat, I should think.

  2. ekimmakon 10 Sep 2010 at 2:18 am

    Villain: Back off, or I’ll turn this thing up so high, it’ll scramble your brains!
    Hero: Is that a threat?
    *Villain switches on machine*
    Villain: Not anymore, now it’s past tense

    [EDITOR: Could I suggest replacing “Not anymore, now it’s past tense” with “It was.”?]

  3. Jeffreyon 10 Sep 2010 at 6:32 am

    Shady Man who represents a shady organization: As far as your investigation goes, all I’m asking is that you shut it down, or there could be some very grave consequences down the line for you and your colleagues.
    Intrepid reporter: Is that a threat?
    Shady Man: Notice that I said COULD. Let me put it this way–if you proceed, that COULD changes to a WILL, in which case, I guess you are being threatened. Sorry for using so many words to say yes. Ta ta.

  4. NicKennyon 10 Sep 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Soldier aims gun at person who’s broken into military facilty.

    Soldier *points machine gun*: Do not move! Put your hands above your head or I will use deadly force!
    Criminal: Is that a threat?
    Soldier *confused*: No, it’s a machine gun. There’s an important difference. Threats MAY kill you. Machine guns WILL kill you.

  5. Mr. Crowleyon 10 Sep 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Villain:Is that a threat?
    Hero:Yeah…I think it was
    Villain:Just making sure
    Hero:Oh no problem

  6. B. Macon 10 Sep 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I like that better than just “Yeah,” Mr. Crowley. I think the exchange has a lot more personality.

  7. Ragged Boyon 10 Sep 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I’m running blank… Haha.

  8. Wingson 10 Sep 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I like all the alternate examples here.

    WWMCD? (What Would My Characters Do?)

    Criminal: Is that a threat?

    Meg: *forms a sphere of electricity and readies it to throw* What do you think?

    —–

    Criminal: Is that a threat?

    Darken: *methodically beats the guy to a pulp and walks away. Before he leaves, he turns back to his victim* To answer your earlier question…yes. Yes, it was.

    —-

    Bank employee: Is that a threat?

    Aidan: I’m really getting tired of hearing that. I’m a supervillain. It’s always a threat.

    This is entertaining!

    – Wings

  9. RBon 11 Sep 2010 at 12:40 am

    A hero and a villain are racing towards a valuable jewel on a tall alter. Finesse (hero) grabs Marco’s (villain) shoulder pulling him to halt and say:

    Finesse: Wait! Before the jewel releases its true power it releases a wave of energy that make anyone near fall madly in love in love with. (He steps in close to Marco). My spirit will follow you through eternity and I will eventually kill you!

    Marco pulls away from Finesse.

    Marco: Is that some kind of sick threat?

    Finesse sweeps Marco to the ground.

    Finesse: No! But it was a might good distraction!

    He thens springs for the jewel.

  10. B. Macon 11 Sep 2010 at 11:19 am

    Catastrophe, reading a science text while a criminal is trying to steal something valuable from his lab: You probably don’t want to touch that. Inciting the Heisenberg particles would create an eight-megaton chain reaction.

    Criminal, skeptical: Uh-huh. Right. You don’t sound worried.

    *Catastrophe flips the page nonchalantly.*
    Catastrophe: I will survive.

    *Criminal hesitates.*

    [Catastrophe tries to light a cigarette, but his lighter is out of juice.]

    Catastrophe: Ah, blast. Could you touch the doomsday device?

  11. ShardReaperon 11 Sep 2010 at 11:22 am

    Hostage: Is that a threat?
    Villain: I dunno, is that a spear sticking out of your chest?
    Hostage: What sp– gasps in shock
    Villain: Oh, look, a spear.

  12. B. Macon 11 Sep 2010 at 11:23 am

    Haha! 🙂

    I sorta think it would work better on another criminal or supervillain than a hostage, though. A hostage would have to be seriously dumb to ask a supervillain that has taken him hostage whether he was threatening him. 😉

  13. ShardReaperon 11 Sep 2010 at 11:40 am

    True, but then again, some hostages are just that mouthy. Imagine something like that at an airport.

    Villain bursts through the doors, causing chaos: Nobody move! I’ve got bombs rigged to blow on every plane and they’ll kill all of you unless–

    Random Traveler: Excuse me, sir, I’ve got a wedding to get to in Fresno at 4, so can we hurry this up?

    Villain: Are you serious?! You won’t be making the 10:45 to Fresno, but you will be making the 10: 45…to death!

    RT: Buddy, come on, I gotta make this wedding, I’ve spent two and a half hours at security!

  14. Lighting Manon 11 Sep 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Villain: I’ll destroy everything you love and reduce you to a simpering o’possum!
    Hero: Is that a threat?
    Villain: No, it’s a prerequisite for finishing my social science degree.

    Hostess: You’ll be sitting at the same table as David Lee Roth.
    Man: Is that a threat?
    Hostess: You’ll have a separate bread basket, sir.

    This would make a great party game, heh.

  15. B. Macon 11 Sep 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I didn’t know who David Lee Roth was, but that scene was hilarious anyway. I think it helped that it wasn’t clear to me whether seating someone with DLR was a threat or not. 🙂

  16. ShardReaperon 12 Sep 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Villain: Is that a threat?
    Hero: Yep, and this is a knife.
    Villain: Why do you have a kni– *knife shoots into villain’s skull*

  17. Milanon 12 Sep 2010 at 5:09 pm

    “Your cliche reply will result in a third-rate one-liner.”

    “Is that a threat?”

    “No, it’s a premise.”

  18. B. Macon 12 Sep 2010 at 10:05 pm

    ““No, it’s a premise.”” SIMULTANEOUSLY KICKASS AND AWFUL. If you could keep up that level of cleverness at novel-length, I totally think you could get it published. 😀

  19. B. Macon 12 Sep 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Oh, more seriously, another reason you might have a character ask “is that a threat?” or “are you blackmailing me?” is if the questioner is taping the conversation and wants to get a confession on tape. Otherwise, the situation might be too ambiguous to charge the threatener with anything.

  20. ekimmakon 13 Sep 2010 at 12:47 am

    Is that a threat?
    No, it’s a distraction

  21. Wingson 13 Sep 2010 at 9:20 am

    …Wow.

    The level of cleverness in here makes me feel mundane…

    I must improve my skills! Quick, Robin! To the Novelcave!

    – Wings

  22. Contra Gloveon 13 Sep 2010 at 10:32 pm

    TERRORIST: You’re covered in gasoline. A simple tasering is all it takes to bake you alive. Fire is a painful way to die, my lovely.

    HEROINE: Is that a threat?

    TERRORIST: I’m pointing a weapon at-

    *HEROINE shoots TERRORIST twice, killing him.*

    HEROINE: Don’t waste your time talking.

  23. B. Macon 13 Sep 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I like that, Contra Glove, but I think “Is that a threat” could be more effective as “Could I make a suggestion?” Cool scene, though.



    I have another tweak. What do you think?

    TERRORIST: You’re covered in gasoline. Even a taser would bake you alive. Fire is a painful way to die, my lovely.

    HEROINE: Could I make a suggestion?

    TERRORIST: I’m pointing a weapon at-

    *A rafter damaged in the fight swings down and kills the terrorist.*

    HEROINE: Duck.

  24. Guardian7on 14 Sep 2010 at 3:03 am

    In the real world it would end like this…

    TERRORIST: You’re covered in gasoline. A simple tasering is all it takes to bake you alive. Fire is a painful way to die, my lovely.

    HEROINE: Is that a threat?

    TERRORIST: I’m pointing a weapon at-

    Terrorist’s weapon misfires, Heroine’s gun goes off hitting the previously damaged rafter above him, as she dies in flames screaming horribly.

    THAT! is what happens when you play with tasers, fire and guns… Because they are always a threat.” (Big Rainbow floats over top of me) “…and that’s one to live by!”

  25. Contra Gloveon 14 Sep 2010 at 6:50 am

    Pretty good suggestions, B. Mac! I was trying to write it so that the heroine goaded the terrorist into talking, then shot him mid-sentence when he least expected it.

    But your way works too. 🙂

  26. Contra Gloveon 14 Sep 2010 at 6:52 am

    Same goes for you, Guardian7. Good job.

  27. Inner Propon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:31 am

    Mr. Neutron: If you take one more step I will collapse the entire city like a fallen souffle.

    Captain Chicago: Is that a threat?

    Mr Neutron: [holding his chin and looking away] You know, I think it is, I really didn’t mean it that way, I’m just having bladder problems lately and I didn’t… That really is a good threat isn’t it? Ok, we’ll go with that. If you take one more –

    Hey, where’d he go?

  28. Contra Gloveon 14 Sep 2010 at 4:29 pm

    @ Inner Prop

    Beautiful. I like it!

  29. Guardian7on 14 Sep 2010 at 4:30 pm

    So basically using the words “Is that a threat?” is frowned upon?

    Guess it all depends on how often it is used.

    It could be a character quirk, I suppose.

    As a defensive person might say something like that.

    I think showing a character’s disapproval (at least in a comic format) would work better than to have them utter something.
    Especially if it is from someone they potentially fear. BUT if they don’t. It might just be a way to see how serious they are.

    I personally have been a few fist fights that those exact words were uttered… by me! LOL

    In hindsight the exchange of words sounds lowbrow. BUT… it did happen.

    I also said in the same conversation “Put your money where you mouth is b!+[#!” LOL (So obvious that I was raised on comics!).

    I just think it may happen in a comic or book format a bit too much.

    I think if the scene works for the author… go for it. But it can easily tip into the scales of camp.

    Cya

  30. ekimmakon 14 Sep 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Raven: Stand down or I will beat you down.
    Minion: Is that a threat?
    *Stagecast turns to minion and shakes them violently*
    Stagecast: Do you have ANY idea how cliche that line is?

  31. B. Macon 14 Sep 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Batman: Tell me what I want to know, or else.

    Henchman: Is that a threat?

    Batman: What are you, retarded or something? I’m the goddamned Batman.

    OR:

    Batman: Tell me what I want to know, or else.
    Henchman #174: Is that a threat?
    *Batman looks quizzically.*
    Gordon: You’re new to Gotham, I take it.

  32. Inner Propon 14 Sep 2010 at 7:26 pm

    “What do you think would happen if I suddenly removed all the air from the top of your head, all the way up to space?” Breeze walked around the hero nonchalantly.

    Watching him and every dark corner of the dead end alley, Cantilever asked, “Is that a threat?”

    Breeze turned to look at him and, without a word or gesture caused a column of vacuum to appear above Cantilever’s head.

    “Oh my, now that WAS unexpected.” He said as he watched in gruesome fascination, “I’ll have to make note of that.”

  33. Guardian7on 14 Sep 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Batman: Your good Kid… I’m going to make you my next Side-Kick…

    boy: Is that a threat?

    Batman: …

    Batgirl laughs in the background.

  34. B. Macon 14 Sep 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Batgirl laughing in the background… Great touch.

  35. Inner Propon 15 Sep 2010 at 11:05 am

    Breeze: Do you know what I’m holding in my hand? It’s a ball of air at one hundred atmospheres, that’s fourteen hundred psi, and I’m going to make you breathe it.

    Heatseeker: …

    Breeze: Aren’t you going to say, “Is that a threat?”

    Heatseeker: I know it’s not.

    Breeze: Clever boy, you may have just bought yourself a few minutes of life. Well, maybe not.

    [Inner Prop: Help me, I can’t stop!]

  36. Lighting Manon 16 Sep 2010 at 8:39 am

    I found this kind of funny, that new Wall Street: The Geico Gecko movie has this line in it’s commercials (and as such presumably the movie) twice in a very short period of time with one of the above traditional answers, but yesterday, it was storming quite terribly in my area and so, as a special treat, the cable was acting all wonky, and the commercial got to the moment in which the Transformers kid has his turn with it and the cable decided to go out just as he uttered it, leaving my TV repeating it and as well as part of the answer in increasingly annoying tones for two minutes before the digital cable clinked back on.

    Apparently, the universe is very concerned by this line as well…

  37. ekimmakon 22 Sep 2010 at 4:25 am

    Calvin: I spend most of my time sleeping.
    Janet: Most of the time?
    Calvin: Well, I spend the rest of the time hitting things that keep me from sleeping.
    Janet: And… that would be some sort of threat?
    Calvin: Not really. Normally they’re engines I have to fix.

    Any way I could improve this conversation?

  38. B. Macon 22 Sep 2010 at 6:42 am

    If one of the wittiest things you can fit into your minute-long trailer is “Is that a threat?”/”Absolutely”, you’re totally doomed.



    Ekimmak, I think this conversation strikes me as sort of awkward. It may help to cut the line “Most of the time?” because I don’t think it feels like a natural response to “I spend most of my time sleeping.” One thing you could try is changing the opening line from “I spend most of my time sleeping and the rest of the time hitting things that keep me from sleeping.”

    Also, I think it would help if you gave Janet more of an active role in the conversation. Right now her only function here is asking Calvin to clarify statements that are already pretty clear. In particular, I think “And… that would be some sort of threat?” could be replaced with a sentence that implies that she thinks he is making some sort of threat.



    I don’t understand why she thinks that she thinks that might be a threat, though. If he were an abusive lover (which I think is sort of what you’re trying to imply with the cryptic “I spend the rest of the time hitting things that keep me from sleeping”), she’d already know that without having to ask for clarification. Are these characters romantically involved? If not, how do they know each other?

  39. ekimmakon 22 Sep 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Yeah, I’m not really sure where this came into it, it was just a line I threw in… I really want to write it better.

    Basically, he’s just the lazy sort of person who’s trying to get some shut eye, but she’s concerned about why he dropped out of school, and is not leaving him alone. I could change her line to “That’s not a threat, and we both know it”.

    No, they aren’t romantically involved.

  40. ekimmakon 22 Sep 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Really should alter the conversation if the first thing you think is romance. How about this one?

    Calvin: Well, these days I spend most of my time asleep. Rest of the time, I hit things that are keeping me awake.
    Janet: That’s not a threat, and we both know it. I’m a telepath, remember?
    Calvin: Uh…
    Janet: You aren’t getting off that easily.
    Calvin: Isn’t today a school day?

  41. Lighting Manon 22 Sep 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I am assuming it’s been established prior to the conversation that she’s a telepath, correct? Even if not, I think it would be wise to rethink introducing it in through that particular line of dialogue, it seems a bit clunky to me, just my personal opinion. I’ve included another version that seems just a bit snappier to me.

    Calvin: There’s plenty of time for sleep when the only other thing I do is hit things that keep me from it.
    Janet: You’d have to stop thinking about peanut butter to hit me and I just don’t see that happening.
    Calvin: Isn’t today a school day?
    Janet: You seem to think it’s Caturday. You aren’t chasing me off with your calendar magic.

    Peanut butter could be changed to something else if it doesn’t fit the timeline or the character, of course, but it reinforces the telepathic angle without using the word and this could be used to reintroduce the engine repair that your original version mentioned.

  42. Lighting Manon 22 Sep 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Sorry, I’m terrible at dealing with human beings, that came off very pushy and weird. My intention was to say that would be a potential direction to take it, maybe not word for word, but just that general area might improve on the interaction by keeping it light and airy while involving exposition and establishing elements without necessarily feeling exposition-y.

  43. ekimmakon 23 Sep 2010 at 1:22 am

    Its ok.

    I should probably explain how the scene sort of played out in my mind when I was writing it. The idea was that Janet tries to ask Calvin what he’s been up to since he dropped out of school. Calvin just wants to get a bit of rest, and doesn’t want to talk. Eventually, he uses the phrase
    “Normally, if something keeps me awake, I hit it.”
    Janet, as a telepath, knows perfectly well that he means engines that he’s paid to fix. She points this out, to which he dryly replies that today is a school day, and she realizes that she hasn’t even started getting ready. As she begins to panic, he points out that yesterday also was a school day, so she probably missed that as well. And she panics even more.

    I’m just trying to come up with small skits to fill up 12 hours worth in the novel.

  44. ekimmakon 23 Sep 2010 at 1:23 am

    I don’t get the lines you gave Janet, though. Caturday? Calendar magic?

  45. B. Macon 23 Sep 2010 at 2:26 am

    “You aren’t chasing me off with your calendar magic.” For some reason, that reminds me of Agent Orange. (I could totally see him using a line like “Your calendar tricks will not save you! “Boxing Day” is no more a holiday than Shipping Day or the Feast of the Ascension of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!”)

  46. ekimmakon 21 Oct 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Okay, have been thinking about a climax between one of my heroes and their personal archenemy. The scene goes sort of like this:

    (Jet Witch has discovered Zach’s identity, after curb stomping him)
    JW: Well, with hair like that, tracking you down should be easy. Maybe I’ll let you live, and hunt down your friends instead.
    (Zach looks infuriated, and stands up)
    Zach: Okay, here’s how it is. You do not come anywhere near my friends. If you do, you will regret it.
    JW: Oh, come on. That’s supposed to be a threat?
    Zach: No. Those are the rules.
    (Zach unleashes a massive energy blast, blowing holes through nearby buildings)
    Zach: And that’s what happens when you break them.

  47. Rachel Mon 21 Oct 2010 at 8:54 pm

    B.Mac- Please write a story on the Ascension of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! 🙂

  48. Crystalon 05 May 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Wow. Some of these are so funny! I think that I’ll try it with Adam. (I know that I said that he’s dead, but I think that of all my characters, he has the strongest voice.)

    Policeman: “Put your hands in the air right now and don’t move.” He points his gun at Adam.

    Adam: “Actually, I think I’m good.” He starts casually ambling toward the policeman.

    Policeman: “I’m not kidding…”

    Adam (in a menacing tone): “Neither am I. Drop the gun or you’ll wind up like your buddies over there” He points. Three policemen are levitating in the air, frantically gesturing for the one remaining officer to rescue them.

    Policeman: “I-Is that a threat?”

    Adam doesn’t answer, just keeps walking toward him.

    The policeman starts firing at him.

    Adam (deflecting bullets with a flick of his hand): Umm…I don’t know…Was it a threat? Hmm…Let me think…

    Adam shoves his hand out, and the policeman smashes against a building.

    Adam: You know, I think that it was.

  49. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 08 May 2011 at 1:45 am

    Hmmm, I think I’ll try my hand at this.

    (A girl, Lonnie, is fleeing a man who has been following her for several blocks. She has just crossed a road and he is on the other side)

    Lonnie: Stay back!

    (Man keeps heading towards her)

    Lonnie: I mean it! Stay back or you’re gonna die!

    Man: Is that a threat? (Man moves forward a few steps)

    Lonnie: No, it’s a fa-

    Man: A fact? What are you, reading off a script by a six year old? That’s so cliche. (Man comes closer, Lonnie is moving sideways along a footpath to keep her back protected)

    Lonnie: Fine, it’s a prom-

    Man: Saying “it’s a promise” or “absolutely” is just as bad.

    Lonnie: Seriously, I mean i-

    Man: You mean it? I never would have guessed. (Man is now stood just in front of the footpath and makes a grab at her)

    Lonnie: A CAR, YOU IDIOT! (Jumps backwards)

    (Man gets hit by car)

  50. Crystalon 08 May 2011 at 3:00 pm

    That’s good! It’s way funnier than mine!
    I started laughing out loud when I read the last two sentences…

  51. Slavokon 09 May 2011 at 1:51 pm

    A: Is that a threat?
    B: What is that, a rhetorical question? Because if it isn’t, then there’s at least one obvious point that you’re missing. And if it is, then I’m not sure what exactly you’re getting at, but I do have a doomsday device to make up for it.

    Though really, I think the “Is that a threat?” line is only good when the hero is stalling for time–and there are other lines that are more effective and original–and when an underling is out of line and said something he wasn’t supposed to to the evil overlord.

    Evil Overlord: Is that a threat?
    Underling: Uh, that came out wrong. What I meant to say was … something else.

  52. Chihuahua0on 27 Mar 2012 at 4:47 am

    Heroine: You don’t want me shooting this gun at you. It has.

    Villain: Is that a threat–

    -Hero shoots his gun at Villain-

    Hero: -to Heroine- Don’t waste your time talking.

  53. YoungAuthoron 27 Mar 2012 at 7:17 pm

    (my characters)

    Executioner: I’m going to cut you to shreds!

    Kane: Is that a threat? or are you just dreaming aloud again.

    Executioner: Arrggh

    -Kane kills Executioner-

    Kane: guess we just found out

  54. Foxleron 26 Apr 2015 at 11:48 am

    *Evil genius stands with remote to doomsday weapon in hand. Heroine stands behind him with pistol pointed at his back.*

    Heroine: Drop the remote or I will hurt you.

    Evil Genius turns and looks up and down Heroine unimpressed.

    Evil Genius: Is that a threat?

    -Bang-

    Heroine: No. My lawyer says I have to give a warning now for “legal” reasons.

  55. Crosseon 28 Apr 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Hero and his allies have barley managed to break through the front lines to the helipad that the evil corporations leader is about to leave from. The CEO has, in his hands, a detonator for a nuclear device set to destroy the local military town who have all been exposed to a terrible disease.

    CEO: So you’ve come to stop me then, is that it? You want this to get out and kill everyone you love. Your sister, his daughter?

    Hero: No, but we don’t have to kill all these people. I have a-

    CEO: You saw what your cure did! You tried it, and it failed, Damien. Give up and go home. Or…well, (CEO motions to the town) try to. Soon as I get far enough away, I’m going to use this (shakes hand with detonator) to save as much of this country as I still can.

    Hero: And what are you going to do when we’re all dead, just forget about all of this and move on to some new sick experiment?

    CEO: I’m going to go to Calexico and try to refine it, find out why the drug reacted so badly. Its dangerous work, yes. But the world needs this. (CEO motions to Damien) You could come too, we need minds like yours. Young. Intelligent. Manageable.

    Hero raises his rifle until the CEO’s hand is in the center of his scope, CEO thinks it is at his head.

    CEO: Are you threatening me? I just gave you an out. You can survive this (motions to the soon to be wasteland). I have nuclear warheads underground, ready to detonate and you think shooting me will help? I’ll just drop the damned thing and it’ll go off anyways.

    Hero pulls rifle down and looks at the CEO, a little smug.

    Hero: You know what, you’re right. (Smiles as he pulls out a similar looking device). I think this will work far better. (Points device at CEO)

    CEO: You can’t reverse the wavelength on my device, fool. (Device makes powering down sound. CEO looks down at device, nervous. Shakes device.)

    CEO brandishes device at Hero, presses button. Nothing happens, and he presses it a few more times. CEO looks confused as he sees the Heroes running at him, and he orders the helicopter to take off. It starts lifting off of the ground, and clears the side of the building just in time. The CEO cracks open his button-case to find a speaker, and two separate signal amplifiers.

    Hero: You remember those dogs you tested PANACEA on? Well…I don’t think they bother with threats.

    Mutated Hound leaps off of building and into helicopter, trying to find the source of the horrible screeching sound. It finds the CEO’s hand, and sees him as the perpetrator. The Hound begins eviscerating the CEO, and the helicopter crashes a few minutes later.

    Hero: Well, I guess we need to start making more of this stuff (shakes vial). I should probably check out Calexico too.

  56. Crosseon 28 Apr 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Heroe’s are not running at him. They are standing still, staring at him. CEO orders helicopter to take off, and it takes a few seconds to get going.

  57. Samuson 30 Apr 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Hilarious stuff. Can’t..stop..laughing..
    AAAHH!..

  58. Jubeion 01 May 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Or you can say that the pilot of the helicopter starts to turn into one of the mutated dogs as the hero is telling him about the dogs. What no one knew was that their was a cover up when one of the mutated dogs escaped and was killed by the pilot and is paid off to keep the incident quiet years before he is hired by CEO’s company. As he starts to mutate the CEO has the look of on his face shock as he turns into a more defined mutation! Right before the CEO asks how the pilot begins to eviscerate the CEO. The heroes hear the sound of the plane crash but were never aware of what happened.

  59. Crosseon 01 May 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Dogs were mutated due to exposure to radiation in central US* combined with what was a potential “Panacea” based on stem cell research. It was also extensively tested (secretly) on a (not secret) military base in the middle of the Mojave desert. The pilot was a part of the CEO’s company, though that part could fit in with the corporate espionage** that is happening in the universe of my game/book series, if the AAHR needed Ficluer’s CEO killed.

    It is a great idea, and I am going to think on it. But the pilot couldn’t have mutated into a dog, since the ‘Panacea’ and the deadly strain of it (because Panacea is a cure delivered through the body of a virus) are only meant to cure diseases, or speed up regenerative qualities of animals for a limited time.

    *Nuke (anti-matter-bomb) detonated there in the 70’s. It’s a quarantined area, but scientists still conduct experiments on the strangely malformed wildlife there…hoping to find a way to more effectively combat radiation sickness.

    **AAHR (not the group that this CEO is from) has effectively ruined this CEO’s company by exposing his unethical and illegal form of medicine/drug testing. They did this to Ficluer (the company the CEO does belong to) so that they could acquire the base for their research, and acquire more US Gov research funding for their version of a ‘Panacea.’

  60. Jade D.on 04 May 2015 at 12:46 pm

    VILLAIN: As soon as I release the toxin, you and the rest of the world we be transformed into monsters all controlled by me! But before that, I am happy you volunteered to be the first test subject!
    HERO: Is that a threat?
    VILLAIN: No, it was really more of an evil plan. Why? Did it seem threatening? I’m new at this whole villain thing and I’m still trying to find out what works, you know…

    (Gunshot, villain falls onto floor, hero looks at heroine holding a pistol in shock)

    HERO: Well, that wasn’t very nice.
    HEROINE: He’ll live.
    HERO: Good, because if you keep killing off our clientele, we’ll be out of a job.
    HEROINE: Don’t worry, he’ll be back, this time with a tragic back story and a thirst for revenge.

  61. Johannon 07 May 2015 at 4:35 pm

    *Later, in the prison hospital* VILLAIN: Wait a second! I could have turned myself into a monster and saved myself a whole lotta trouble! Gotta write that down, Also! Next time design suit with bullet proofing in mind!

  62. B. McKenzieon 09 May 2015 at 10:57 am

    ” VILLAIN: No, it was really more of an evil plan. Why? Did it seem threatening? I’m new at this whole villain thing and I’m still trying to find out what works, you know… ” I’d recommend staying true to the villain’s voice. Does he see himself as a villain? If so, why?

  63. Innocent Bystanderon 11 May 2015 at 7:25 pm

    This might be veering into cliché, but here’s what I got;

    Villain: You have three days to get the McGuffin or the next time you see your boyfriend he will be a scorch mark.
    Hero: Is that a threat?
    Villain: It’s incentive.

    Or…

    Villain: Your mother is a remarkable woman. You should take good care of her.
    Heroine: Is that a threat?
    Villain: Now why would I make a threat? It would look bad for my image. Very bad. Just know I’ll be keeping a very close eye on her in case you get… reckless.

    And…

    Hero: Drop the McGuffin or I’ll shoot!
    Villain: Is that a threat?
    Hero: *Shoots a hair away from villain*
    Villain: …Fair enough. *drops McGuffin*

    Finally…

    Heroine: Come around here again and you’d better have a grave ready.
    Villain: Is that a threat?
    Heroine: You want to find out?

  64. Fionaon 31 May 2015 at 6:02 am

    He continued to walk into the forest. Suddenly he turned. “If you are the American,” he hissed, “explain to me why you are standing here when Mademoiselle Miller’s flight has not yet arrived.”
    “I am curious about this. . . ‘Illuminati’ I’ve heard about. I am a free agent who has infiltrated the American government and been directed by them to infiltrate the French government as a spy for America. In the French government, I was directed to become a French spy on the ‘Illuminati’.” I explained, “It seems that you do not want to fight anyone.” I said softly, “Depending on what I report to the French, you may have to.”
    “Is that a threat?” he asked calmly. “Not right now.” I said, “But if you don’t give me information, it will be. And if you choose to lie, you will have a war to fight.”

  65. Miss Liaron 04 Jul 2015 at 1:06 am

    The FBI agent leaned on his hands on the cold metal table in the frigid interrogation room, eyes staring down the man before him as he hissed, “It would do you good to cooperate with us, Mr. Alarcon. We could very well make the rest of your life be spent miserably in a jail cell with brutal inmates if we get the urge to do so.”

    The tired physicist glared up at the agent with bagged eyes, gritting his teeth at the thinly-veiled comment. “Is that a threat?”

    “Possibly. That depends on you, Aidan. It depends on your choice. You’re holding your own fate in your hands right now. Will you crush it by defying us or will you release it by telling us what you know?” the agent snarled.

    He was running out of time, he noticed when he subtly glanced at his watch. They could only hold the physicist for a twenty-four hour period with no proven charges or else they had to release him and loose any possibility of figuring out the identity of the vigilante who called himself the Steel Lord.

    The physicist considered this ultimatum he was given, remembering the young man who’d begged him for his help in developing his armor, and with that, he clamped his lips shut and cast a chilly glance at the agitated agent. He would do anything for Thomas Arkenson, even rot in jail if the FBI agent’s threat was to be taken seriously.

    The only thing he said was, “Yes, that was a threat.”

  66. B. McKenzieon 04 Jul 2015 at 10:26 am

    “It would do you good to cooperate with us, Mr. Alarcon. We could very well make the rest of your life be spent miserably in a jail cell with brutal inmates if we get the urge to do so.”

    “Is that a threat?”

    (From the above article): Generally, when a character has made a threat, the threat is so patently obvious that the question is completely unnecessary. I think this is a case where having the physicist ask “Is that a threat?” makes him look mentally slow. It may help to make the FBI’s threat vaguer to start with. For example:

    “Cooperating would help you a lot, Mr. Alarcon. There may be legal complications otherwise.”

    “Is that a threat?”

    “If convicted, you’d spend the rest of your life with serial killers and rapists. Your only contact with the outside world will be letters from friends and family, which usually stop coming after a year or two.”

  67. Derrialaon 26 Nov 2015 at 12:31 pm

    (Scenario: One character (Jen) is known to be a living bad luck charm to anyone nearby, particularly if they’ve ticked her off. The hero (Tom) is interrogating her about her possible involvement in the death of someone she’d broken up with a few months back.)

    Jen: Look, I told you before, Jon and I both agreed we were better as friends. I’ve got no reason to even want him to get hurt.

    Tom: Really? Because I’d say a breakup would be great incentive. And with your little aura of bad luck, it’s pretty-

    Jen: Don’t you dare. Don’t you even suggest – you know what? Go ahead. Say it was my abilities. See where it gets you.

    Tom: *rolls eyes* Is that a threat?

    Jen: I’m giving you your options. You can leave me alone, and we can pretend this interview never happened. Or you can keep this little Q-and-A up, and hope you only lose the car.

  68. B. McKenzieon 27 Nov 2015 at 12:54 pm

    “Say it was my abilities” sounds sort of stiff/unnatural. I’d suggest “Say it was me” instead or maybe “Arrest me” (if he’s a cop or something similar).

    In my opinion, the scene falls apart when Tom rolls his eyes. She definitely is threatening him, and he evidently takes her aura seriously enough that he suggests that she might have murdered her ex-boyfriend. The eye roll completely flies in the face of that (suggesting that he doesn’t take her aura seriously at all).

    Suggested response for Tom (assuming that Tom thinks that Jen’s aura might have killed the ex-boyfriend, but that Tom thinks he is safe for whatever reason):

    Jen: Don’t you dare. Don’t you even suggest – you know what? Go ahead. Say it was me. See where it gets you.

    Tom: Is that what you told him when he broke up with you?

  69. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 06 Dec 2016 at 9:30 am

    Just finished Westworld, and there was one line spoken by Maeve Millay that was a much more interesting threat/threat response style rhetorical question than I’m used to hearing.

    Contrast the generic “Is that a threat?!” “No, that’s a promise!” to Maeve’s:

    You think I’m scared of death? I’ve done it a million times, I’m f****ng great at it. How many times have you died? *insert confusion on whether that’s a threat* Because if you don’t help me, I’ll kill you.

    Gives you some insight into the character, how they think, and doesn’t beat around the bush.

  70. James Dakotaon 07 Dec 2016 at 5:46 am

    Here’s a conversation between my spunky water manipulator, Tori, and the sexist pig teleporter, Jasper.
    Hope you enjoy, 🙂

    TORI: *Turns off TV* I hate Hillary Clinton
    JASPER: Then you agree with me that a woman should never become president?
    TORI: *glaring* How long can you hold your breath, Jasper?
    JASPER: Is that supposed to be a threat? ‘Cause there’s no way–
    TORI: *Floods the room with water, then pulls it back* No, you idiot. I was making sure you didn’t jump.
    JASPER: *sputtering*

  71. (o_n')on 07 Dec 2016 at 9:51 am

    A scene between a old lady and young man, in which she suspects him for burglar instead of the new nurse:
    Her crooked fingers finally got the drawer open, a long silver steak knife was pulled out silently. When she fastly pulleyed in her loafers against her final target. The young man was unknowning of threat from behind, while he was distriputing her pills.
    The old lady: Tou better get your hands of those, you are too young to having a liver diaease, your filthy thief!
    The young man: I’m your new care taker, not a thief. It is almostly 11am, you need to take your heart medicine.
    The old lady: I am not taking any orders from a humble burglar. If you not move out of my kitchen fast. I would use my best karrete.
    The old lady could really spell or say the word karate, but she pointed the knife against the young man’s shoulder.
    The young man: With that ammount of analsegic in your blood, I am impressive over you can reach your hand in the air. I would be even more impressed if you could do karate.
    Silent, your stupid fool, I have learned it by Bruce Lee, The lady screamed.
    The young man: Where did you met Bruce Lee?
    The old lady: in the TV, we met every Saturday. Silly thief, I can still reach your troach.
    The young man: it is that even suposed be a threat?
    The old lady did stap the young man in shoulder, the young man screamed.
    The lady was bursting out in laughing by the young man’s girlish scream.
    At least I know now what happened to my predessor. Why did I even choose to work with old people? They would be easy to work with, all I got was grumpy old men and a dangerous senile lady. I should have stayed in school.

    It might be cliche, but nothing comes of nothing. I think it works better in some dark comedy than a straight action movie or drama.

  72. B. McKenzieon 07 Dec 2016 at 7:53 pm

    “Here’s a conversation between my spunky water manipulator, Tori, and the sexist pig teleporter, Jasper.” Two thoughts: First, I’d suggest giving Jasper a major boost in charisma and building smoother transitions between his lines and hers. Second, if you were writing this for publication, it’d probably be on shelves in 5+ years and at that point a reference to HRC would be about as outdated as a reference to Mitt Romney would be now.

    “No, you idiot. I was making sure you didn’t jump.” I don’t understand what she’s trying to say here. Even if the reader knows that “jump” is teleporting, what does flooding the room have to do with his ability to teleport?



    Proposed rewrite:

    SARAH: I’m actually sort of glad Deborah Smith lost. She’s been criminally investigated in half of the jobs she’s held, and somehow turns a charity into a billion dollar slush fund.
    JIM: The media’s had it out for her since day 1.
    SARAH: What? You’ve been ranting about the liberal media for years.
    JIM: I maintain that every photograph of her that has ever been taken is a lie. There’s no way ANYONE is that ugly. We all dodged a bullet — she was so close to being on TV every day for 4 years.
    SARAH: Uh, wow, thanks for keeping your eyes on the prize.
    JIM: If we did have to have a woman president, we really deserve at least a seven. Or a blonde six.
    *Sarah floods the room in neck-deep water.*
    SARAH, furious: Anything else you’re looking for in a female presidential candidate?
    JIM: Emotional stability. You know, nuclear weapons. Should I hold my breath?

  73. James Dakotaon 08 Dec 2016 at 5:30 am

    TORI: *Turns off TV* I hate Clarita Diablo. [evil female character in series.]
    JASPER: Then you agree with me that a mutant that powerful should never become president?
    TORI: *surprised* Aren’t you going to say something like woman can’t become president?
    JASPER: Mutants would be preferred, but if a female ever did become president she’d have to be a paragon of virtue. You know, the damsel in distress kind.
    TORI: *Floods the room with water neck deep water* Anything else you’re looking for in a female president?
    JASPER: It’d be nice if they were emotionally stable. You know, being in charge of a country this size making a rash decision can be fatal. Now, are you going to get rid of the water or should I leave?
    TORI: *glaring* Just hold your breath, jerk.
    JASPER: Ah, flood the whole room. In that case, I’ll be seeing you. *Teleports*

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