1. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    Approaching a harrowing or emotional scene

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cmcpress, Dec 7, 2011.

    Hi Guys, long time no see! I've been so busy recently not really had time to check in here. I've been working on a project for a series and the pilot is almost there - I've hit a wall with one scene in particular which has a strong emotional content. In this scene the main character has to deliver the news of death of their daughter's family to parents who are waiting in a police room. The scene is central to the plot in that it starts to lay the pipes for one of the series story arcs, and also ideally i'd like it to be a strong scene that will capture the listeners interest.

    I've taken two stabs at the scene - the first where the reactions of the parents were almost comically bad, the second which is very dry and doesn't have any emotional impact. The problem here, of course is that I'm lucky enough to have never delivered such bad news and so don't really know believably how people would react.

    So my question to you guys is - how would you (or have you) approach(ed) writing a scene such as this, or one that has a strong emotional impact - and how would you research something like this? The challenge here is that, as it is a radioplay, it has to be delivered through language and performance alone - there is no narration, or visual cues.
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Hmmm radio play...

    I might suggest looking at serious medical shows for scenes where they have to tell people the bad news and just be observant to the reaction and look for things that might translate well to radio. It seems like there are generally two reactions to recieving news like that: calm denial obviously masking inner pain (I can't believe he's dead) or hysterical emotional breakdown with crying and all of that.
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    This is for radio? Or by "listener," do you mean "reader"? One thing I'd suggest is to refrain from describing/sounding out the crying, wailing, moaning, etc. too much. The reader knows this is an emotional time, so he/she'll picture that without the melodrama. Downplay it and let the reader do the rest.
     
  4. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    I think it would be interesting to have the person who is told pretend not to hear, and then the deliverer of the news has to keep repeating it, and then the person finally says angrily that they heard.
     

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