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The Great Storyteller (Web Novel) - Chapter 126 – Twisting the Bird’s Neck (3)

Chapter 126 – Twisting the Bird’s Neck (3)

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

“It was especially shocking when the mother jumped off the building.”

She was referring to the ending scene in ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ The mother had left her life behind in order to reunite with her baby.

“It was quite detailed and realistic, wasn’t it?”

“That’s not all there was to it. That scene was the pivotal point in the book. It hit hard with reality in a story that had been mostly emotional,” Soo Jung added scoldingly at Sang Young’s light-hearted remarks.

“‘The Sound of Wailing’ is not a book that is nice and friendly by any means. It heads toward destruction full throttle, and content like that tends to be heavy and burdensome. Yet, ‘The Sound of Wailing’ is a little different. Rather than taking others’ burdens, it makes the readers reflect on themselves. That’s how the readers are able to get into the book without feeling wronged or ashamed.”

Sang Young and Myung Joo nodded quietly.

“I did pay particular attention to that scene. I’m relieved to hear that the message got across,” Juho said calmly.

While eating, the four continued in their conversation about writing. Like any writer, Soo Jung was catching the most minute of details in Juho’s work. It was obvious that she had carefully studied the flow, the chemistry between characters, the meaning of their dialogues and the properties of the sentences. Juho was quite impressed by her.

“Wow, it seems like you catch every little detail there is when you read. That’s amazing!”

She waved her hand in denial.

“I usually don’t go that deep with other books. I just thought that I should be familiar with your works as I was writing the script for the movie.”

With that, she took something out of her bag. It was a book.

“I have four more of these raggedy books at home,” she said proudly and handed the book over to Juho. A bird on a white background. It was ‘Trace of a Bird.’ Upon opening it, Juho discovered that the entire book was filled with her notes, giving it a textbook-like appearance. That gave him an idea of how much time and intention she had put into writing the script.

“Now that I’m looking at something like that, I’m starting to get more curious about the script.”

“Then, I’d be more than glad to help. I happen to have it on me. Would you like to take a look?”

She moved her hand as if she had been ready to reach for the bag at any minute. However, Juho respectfully declined.

“No, thank you. It’ll take away from the experience when I watch the movie,” he said as he returned the book to Soo Jung. After getting the book back, she remained quiet for a little while. She was being more cautious. As Juho waited patiently for her, she carefully brought up the question that had been burning in her mind.

“I heard that you had made it a condition that we surpass the original.”

“I’d say it’s more of a wish than a condition.”

“You really are different, Mr. Woo,” Soo Jung said as she chuckled light-heartedly.

“Am I?”

“Yes. If I were in your position, I’d go after wealth and fame. That’s the condition for success.”

“That is true.”

She felt relieved that Juho was still smiling. Depending on the person, it could have been a sensitive subject to discuss. Also, there was a sense of affirmation in Juho’s answer.

“Frankly, I’m not any different.”

Juho believed that he was no different from any others, and a perplexed look appeared on the couple’s faces.

“Are you saying that surpassing the original equates to more benefit?”

“Wait. You’re not talking about some sort of bigger picture here, are you? Like the book selling more once the movie comes out, bringing wealth and fame?”

Juho shook his head.

“Not at all. Most people want wealth for their livelihood: to live just a bit more comfortably. Right?”

“Right.”

“I’m exactly the same…”

Her light eyes blinked rapidly behind her glasses. Looking at her eyes, Juho reminisced about the days when he had had to survive through the winter without money or fame. He had starved and shivered in the cold. Yet, he had lived on despite the misery and discomfort. Those days had been filled with tears and laughter.

He had been incapacitated by the alcoholism. He hadn’t been able to feel anything. He had vomited stomach acid instead of his emotions. His organs no longer functioned properly due to the alcohol. He had hallucinated often. Unfortunately, his own hands had prevented him from putting that experience into writing as they shook uncontrollably. Even a short sentence had proven to be a challenge. It had been no different from death.

“… and I’ll keep writing.”

Now, he wrote freely, just as his young self in the past.

“I want to be moved by a movie that surpasses my work. When that happens, I’m certain that I’ll be able to write something even better than what I’ve written so far.”

“In that case, wouldn’t you have to work with a better director?”

“Who would that be?”

Soo Jung remained silent. She couldn’t answer. Could a famous director who was widely recognized be considered to be a better director? If not, an award-winning, perhaps?

“I’m confident that I’m working with the best director there is.”

Juho thought back to the day when Sang Young came to meet him at the publishing company. Sang Young had been confident, and that had been apparent in his words. It had been possible that he had been making empty promises, but he hadn’t let up in that moment at least. Such a person had a lot to offer.

“The kind of success I’m after isn’t always found in results. Besides, I received something from Mr. Ju.”

“You did?”

“The mother’s cigarette in ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ That was yours.”

“Eh?”

“Well, I was able to write a decent book, thanks to you, so I’d say I’m halfway from reaching my goal.”

While Sang Young sat there with a perplexed look, Juho added, “So, I look forward to working with you for the next half of that journey.”

Silenced filled the room, and Soo Jung was taken aback by Juho’s attitude. He sounded as if his life depended on writing. It was an obsession—an obsession toward success. While he was after something that was far from conventional, the core of it was exactly the same as of any human being: to live. People couldn’t survive without money or acknowledgement from others. Yet…

“If I don’t write, I start to fall apart from within.”

The room was filled by Juho’s laughter. Though it might have sounded like he was joking light-heartedly, Soo Jung realized the sincerity behind his words.

“This is great!” Juho said as he brought a piece of sashimi up to his mouth.

---------------------------------------------------------------

The table was filled with yet another series of dishes. They had been conversing for some time. Juho and Soo Jung spoke a similar language, and she knew how to put the other person in high spirits.

“I’ve transcribed Mr. Lim’s book once as well. It was an assignment.”

“An assignment?”

“Yes, I was in college. This was ages ago. That was my first time transcribing, and it really was an experience. You almost feel closer to the book.”

Juho agreed enthusiastically.

“It feels like you’re being probed from within.”

“That’s a great analogy!”

Juho sensed that they were about to get to the main point. While chewing his food, he looked at the man sitting on the other side of the table—a man of few words. While he acted accordingly, he never tried to plug himself in hastily. He seemed to be familiar with meetings like that. When the conversation between Juho and Soo Jung came to a brief pause, the man opened his mouth and said candidly, “May I ask you a question?”

He had a pleasant voice that was both low and resonating. Juho had heard about how important clear enunciation was in acting. With his properly trained vocalization and expressive eyes, he seemed to possess every quality of an actor.

“Of course.”

“It’s about Yun’s brother.”

He didn’t beat around the bush. Juho had been previously informed that he had been the first person to ask about the brother.

“As long as it’s a question that I can answer, I’ll answer to the best of my ability.”

“Be generous with him, will ya?” the director said to Juho in a whisper, but Juho ignored it light-heartedly.

“Mrs. Choi included the smallest of details in her script, so I can understand what kind of emotions Mr. Ju is looking for. I can picture the scenes from just reading it, and it wouldn’t be strange to say that that’s where my curiosity comes from.”

The clear interpretation in the script challenged the actor’s preconceived image of the character, but there was one thing that didn’t make sense. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it was different. That very thing was being reflected in the actor’s performance.

“Which scene is it?”

“It’s when the brother kills a bird.”

Juho remembered his old work vividly. There, was the brother killing a bird and Yun, who watched him quietly. There was a stark contrast between Yun’s naive and fragile nature and his brother’s ruthless and violent personality.

The brother would ask his younger brother, “Are you still scared?”

And Yun, the younger brother, would respond, “Yeah.”

Killing the bird was the brother’s way of expressing his emotions toward his timid brother, who couldn’t even go outside when the sun was up.

“Is it rage?” the actor asked, and Juho looked up at him and asked, “Rage?”

“Yes. The brother ends up killing the bird, and chucks the carcass at Yun. After killing the very target of his fear, he’s essentially putting what’s left of it in the hands of his frightened younger brother, Yun. Now, the older brother is fully aware that Yun is afraid of birds. Yet, what he did wasn’t for the benefit of his younger brother or to comfort him or to encourage him to do the same.”

That was the actor’s interpretation of the scene. The older brother would do something terrible, leaving their house tainted by the bird’s blood. He had brought the very thing Yun feared into his place of hiding. That place was no longer safe. The very person who knew his brother’s weakness pinched him where it would hurt the most. It was betrayal.

“So, I acted it out,” Myung Joo said as he raised both of his hands, looking like he was grasping onto something. It was the bird, trying to escape the hands that would bring its death.

Juho played through the scene in his head. First, the brother would twist the bird’s wings. It had been a rule of sorts that he had kept whenever he commited similar acts. Without the chance to fly away, the bird would be as good as dead. Yet, it struggled to fight back, trying to walk on its two feet. It was at that moment that the brother let the bird free for a short time, as he made his way to the kitchen to look for a knife. By the time he returned, the bird was exactly where he had left it.

“Now, this is where the brother kills the bird, raging. His face twists into a scowl, and his jaw becomes tense. He’s fuming from his nostrils, and his breathing becomes more rigorous. The blood rushing up to his head fuels his rage all the more.”

With that, the actor lowered his hands in a slightly awkward manner.

“I’d read your book before it was decided that it’d be made into a movie, Mr. Woo. Of course, this was before I took the role of the brother. When I read your book, I did it from Yun’s point of view.”

“That makes sense, considering that the book is written from his point of view,” Juho said.

“There’s that, but I thought that I had done it because I had resonated with him,” the actor said.

“In what way?”

With that, Myung Joo pondered for a brief time and answered in his low, resonant voice, enunciating everything clearly.

“Whenever I sense danger, I tend to take a step back and analyze the situation. I shrink and stop in my tracks, and I don’t move a muscle until I have a better grasp of my opponent. The brother however, is different.”

“Yes, he is,” Juho answered after a brief pause. It was the first time he gave a definite answer. It was an affirming answer, and everyone in the room recognized it.

Myung Joo clenched his hands into fists and said, “He charges fearlessly toward his opponent. Those who run ahead tend to look admirable, and you start to long to be like them. For that reason, people stay by their sides and fall in love with them. I know I did, just like Yun.”

“I see.”

Myung Joo redirected the conversation back on its track: the day when the brother killed a bird.

“So, what the older brother did comes to Yun as betrayal. Yun gets hurt, and he starts to despise his brother.”

Juho gave him no answer. That couldn’t be his point, considering that he was the actor who would portray the brother, not Yun. What he really wanted to know was…

“Is he really raging?”

The question returned to him.

“Shouldn’t Yun be the one raging? The two are polar opposites, responding to the same target in completely different ways. But are they, all of a sudden, both raging toward each other?”

A quiet, light-hearted laughter sounded from Juho.

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