1. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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    Depressing much?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Vamp_fan22, Jul 11, 2011.

    In the story I'm writing my mc is grieving over the death of his twin brother. Naturally he's extremely depressed and slightly suicidal. I'm just wondering how I would go about writing this. Like, what are some behaviors he would exhibit and such.
     
  2. Bobbyking
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    Bobbyking New Member

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    If I am writing this story, I would consider the following:

    1. The MC's character/personality: this will affect his way of dealing with the loss (e.g vengeance, extreme depression, find out more abt the death etc)

    2. The MC background: his job, age, marital status (e.g. banker, detective, soldier)..

    3. How did the twin brother die? Was it a natural death or foul play? Would the MC pursue the truth (depend on you and the kind of character)

    While writing my two books, I help myself by asking questions to strengthen the plot along the way.
     
  3. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I usually tell people this and I'll say it again; you should probably look up the symptoms of depression in the DSM-IV. I'll still tell you what I remember from classes, though:

    -Over eat/hardly eat at all

    -Over sleep/ hardly sleep

    -Not motivated

    -Low self-esteem

    -At times, they will no longer be able to experience pleasure (AT TIMES!!)

    -Sadness

    -Lower IQ (my guess is because they don't feel motivated to work their brain as much)

    -Crying spells

    -Suicidal thoughts

    There's more to it, but I can't quite remember the rest of the symptoms. If you want to read something as reference (other than the DSM-IV (which is a stmulating read, imo)) you could read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath who also suffered from depression and had tried to kill herself a number of times. Sadly, Plath finally succeeded in killing herself when she was in her thirties. The read can only be described as numbing (in a good way, though). The sense of hopelessness is felt and the profound feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth are well-written. Highly recommended.

    You could also try reading The Catcher in the Rye by Mr. Salinger, though Holden is not quite as obviously depressed as the main character of The Bell Jar is. If you haven't already read it, I suggest you do so. Not exactly my favourite, but I can see why it was made a classic in its time.

    I'm not here to push books; you don't have to read them. Just some friendly advice.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The other posters provide great advice. As an extra tip, I'd like to caution you against making him sound angsty. Don't get me wrong, the death of a twin brother is serious, horrific, and a totally justified reason to have problems and sadness: but in fiction, characters can sound annoyingly emo and angsty, no matter how terrible and understandable the cause, if you frequently describe him as brooding in a sexy way, having tell-not-show infodumps about how emotional he feels, etc. If you read the thread on angst, you can find more info about what to avoid.

    I'd also recommend reading books where characters witness horrible things, to see how they describe it in a way that's hard-hitting in a mature fashion. "Night" by Elie Wiesel is good, but be warned, it depicts some very gruesome Holocaust things and is NOT for the faint of heart.
     
  5. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    Erm... All those symptoms fit me. I guess I'm more depressed than I thought. Maybe that would make it easier for me to advise you actually...
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I have written two characters with severe depression, and two characters with PTSD, symptoms are similar.
    fatigue or reduced energy
    guilt, worthlessness, hopelessnesshelplessness
    loss of interest in favored activities.
    aches, pain, and stomach issues without other causes.

    http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/146333-deep-depression-symptoms/
     
  7. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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  8. thatguy
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    thatguy Member

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  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Your use of "naturally" here might be a concern. I hope you have built into your story enough for your readers to understand why this would be the case, because it isn't a given. Sibling relationships, even among sets of twins, run the length of the emotional spectrum. In fact, the most toxic sibling relationship I ever saw was between twin brothers.

    Similarly, grieving also runs over a spectrum of reactions. But feeling even slightly suicidal is extreme. So, again, make sure you have a sound basis in their relationship to show why this might be the case.

    Good luck.
     
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  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Also, if you want to make missing someone more poignant, make sure you have plenty of richly-written happy memory scenes, like a special game they played together as a kid (most young kids, both sets of best friends or close siblings, have their own special imaginary games they invent, you know?) or another aspect of his childhood he was really fond of. Show how their childhood traditions grew into adolescent ones and how he had a great friendship with his twin brother (and I'm going out on a limb here to assume they're friends; as Ed says, twins can vary a lot!) Make it something the characters can relate to, then show the empty holes when his brother is gone.

    Also, study up on sentence structure and how you can use it to achieve certain tones. The terms to look up are "polysyndeton" and "asyndeton." Asyndeton is when you use short, choppy sentences to create sort of a desperate/chaotic tone, and polysyndeton is using more complex sentences to create a meandering or relaxed tone. Look at writing where this is used ("Grapes of Wrath" is a great one).

    Don't describe how much he misses his twin. Show us the obvious in other ways, and it will be much more impactful.
     
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  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mallory:
    How much is ok when it comes to angst in books? is a little ok after certain circumstances or is all of it bad - always? does it depend on who the character is or is it just as bad whoever? i think it has a place in my story, at least to a certain point, but I don't think I have wasted too much space on it, but it would be interesting to hear your opinion.
     
  12. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    I wrote this. It is more likely realistic than the melodramatic stuff often portrayed. I don't know how to explain it any other way. If anything, don't force drama. It appears less about anguish (though that is a component) and more about emptiness. The empty hole of losing your 'other half'.

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

    “I don’t much care if I live or die.” Kris looked at me very intently. It was a pretty big statement for me to start my weekly therapy.

    “Oh, to be clear, I’m not suicidal. Not in the least.” It seemed important to make that distinction. Having said that, Kris’ expression eased a bit.

    “I’m not like wanting to jump off a building or wishing I was dead.” I paused to think of a better way to explain myself.

    “It’s a bit more like I’m life-neutral right now. If I died right now, I’m not sure that I’d much care.” Life-neutral seemed the best way to explain it. I didn’t really feel that great urge for a will to live. I didn’t care one way or the other. I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t on some path to destruction. I was in therapy for crissakes!

    “If it came right now, I guess it would be like a big shoulder shrug. Dying, that is. It’s just like ‘whatever’. So there’s that.”

    Kris looked at me for a moment. “Glad you clarified. I mean, I’ve been seeing you for a while and it just wouldn’t have added up. You don’t work that way. Not that I can see.”

    She’s pretty perceptive and was right. I’m not looking to die. I’m was in therapy and I was even beginning to eat a little better. Not really the actions of someone just giving up on life.

    “Thing is, it’s not that uncommon for widows to feel that, to feel that if their death came, it’s not a big deal. It’s not some fatalistic thing, just, well, like you said, life-neutral.” Kris looked longer at me. “You’re here in therapy talking about it. I know you and you’re here to work on things.”

    She’s right. Still, I was mentioning this because I was a little uncomfortable with this neutrality deal. I was a little concerned that I had nearly been run off the road not long before and didn’t seem to care all that much. It would have been a drag but more akin to seeing a guy in front me getting the last Boston Cream at a donut shop. I wouldn’t have liked it but not that big of a deal.

    It’s quite a moment to realize that it would have only kind of sucked to die.

    It seemed a good time to start talking about that feeling.

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

    Not sure if that gives you an idea....
     

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