1. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Depressing yourself with scenes, stave off melodrama, sad moments

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by maskedhero, Jul 6, 2013.

    Currently in the middle of writing a scene that is necessary, but utterly depressing. Despite starting the day upbeat, that feeling is now my own as well. Of course, I'll be fine (I'll pop in a movie later or something), but what are some generalized tips for writing sad and depressing scenes in your story, and most importantly, how do you stave off dipping into melodramatic territory?

    What mood do you write your saddest (and happiest) moments in yourself?

    What things, in stories, make you most sad?
     
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  2. Logik
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    Logik Member

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    I think the best way to avoid melodrama is to have complex characters. The situation itself could be something contrived, or one that seems to lead itself to melodrama and cliche but if the characters are very complex and realistic it will probably keep you from delving into melodrama which is really just drama without any introspection.

    Weirdly I pretty much only get moved during happy or bittersweet scenes (reunions, goodbyes, stuff like that)
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As one who struggles (madly!) with melodrama in my own writing, I can certainly sympathise. For me, the melodrama gets removed when I edit. I find if I am too conscious of it while I'm actually doing the creative part of writing (as opposed to the analytical part) I end up with dry and somewhat lifeless prose. Instead, I just wade in there, flinging melodrama in all directions! As long as the melodrama exists in the WAY you're writing, rather than the plot of the story itself, this works.

    As far as getting depressed, well yes. You will. If you're doing terrible things to characters you've come to love, it will be very unpleasant. If a movie rescues your mood, by all means go for it! For me, I don't mind being in a depressed mood for a little while afterwards, as a result of my writing (unless it's because my writing is horrible!) It means I've done the trick, I guess. If I can depress myself, I'll probably depress the reader too, and if that's my goal ...bingo.
     
  4. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Just finished writing it, and not really liking what I wrote. Not for how it is written, but the content (effective, but terrible). Off to the movie!
     
  5. Savant
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    Savant Member

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    If you thinking writing the scene is hard, just wait until you go back and read it during clean-up and editing. I faced the same thing when I had to write an attempted suicide scene. Yeah it's hard, but if it's hard that's GOOD. If it's affecting you, then it most likely will affect the reader, that's what you want. There's not much to do since, as you aptly noted, you will rebound on your own. My only advice would be to try and get the scene done in full so you don't have to keep going back to it.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best tip I have for writing sad scenes is to get fully into them. If it makes you cry, you've done the job well. If you don't want to experience these emotions, don't write sad scenes.

    To guard against melodrama, edit, edit then edit some more. Don't be afraid to have a few goes at the scene, or conflict, or conflict resolution. You'll see your scene get better and better, until it's just perfect.
     
  7. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    I've heard that it isn't the actual drama of the person dying, for instance, so much as how the great and heroic characters around *that* character react.

    It wasn't Wilson drifting off, that broke our hearts. It was how Chuck Noland wept and screamed for him, that got us.

    Don't be afraid to crush the characters in your book with the loss of a friend or loved one. That is what sells [coughDobby! coughDumbledore!!]
     
  8. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    No matter the emotion my prose invokes as I write/reread it, it thrills me. I know I've done a good job with what I've created if I can make myself dewy-eyed, depressed, or what have you. I suppose I'm not a good judge for this whole thing, though, 'cause I've fought depression for half my life and am addicted to feeling bad... So even the saddest, most depressing scenes make me feel good in a weird way. But I can recall scenes in books I've read that are just so horrendously depressing that I have to set the book down to process what's happened. Kudos to those authors. I'm totally getting off topic now.

    My tips for writing sad and depressing scenes are to understand their place. Look at them in the bigger picture. Focus on how they're making your character better, or your plot better. You wouldn't be writing these scenes if they weren't necessary and didn't make things move forward. Even though this bit sucks, it's for the best. Remember that.

    To avoid melodrama, keep in mind that less is more. Sometimes silence is a more dramatic answer than words. Sometimes looking away out of shame is more potent, more visceral, than explaining why an action was done. There's just nothing good enough to explain away that action or to convey how guilty a character feels. I suppose it boils down to subtlety and trusting your reader. It, like everything else, is art. :)

    I don't really write different types of scenes based off my mood. I just write whatever's next to be worked on no matter how I feel (as long as I'm in the mood to write). There are, however, instances where I get a scene stuck in my head and I have to write it or I'll just be trapped with it and won't be able to focus on anything else. Those scenes normally have something very dramatic or emotional in them that I am just dying to capture in words. They don't happen very often, though.

    What in stories makes me most sad? Tough call. Seeing hard work collapse fruitlessly around a character I suppose. It's worst when that hard work, the sweat and blood put into it, works against the character. It just seems hopeless for them when they've put their all into something that's only ended up hurting them. They're also some of the greatest moments of characters' lives because something huge has to change for them to move forward and/or succeed.

    EDIT:
    GOOD CALL. I love it when characters die for this very reason. It's one of those shining moments in a character's development/life.
     
  9. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Dobby had to be perfect and heroic and brave and emotionally delicate so Rowling could kill him and make us all watch so it would be ten times more horrible when we watched Harry sob. Good shot JKR. Bulls eye. Knife us right in the heart and then give that knife a good twist so we know we are dying. :)
     
  10. swordsandpens
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    swordsandpens New Member

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    I have the opposite problem with sad scenes: when I write them, they seem too artificial. I suspect it's because I'm more likely to be angry than sad on a personal level. I suggest you try adding some anger into the mix. Not so much that it compromises the scene, of course. Let me know how it turns out, too, I could use the notes.
     
  11. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Making a terrible scene is important, especially for how the other people react and change because of it. That's why the scene is so painful.

    Swords- The scene has both a depressing moment for a character, and an instant later, a ruthless moment for the same character, full of anger. Justified, but still angry.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Ditto.

    If it gets you down too much have a plan of how to counteract those feelings once you're done writing. For me I often go watch comedies. :p
     
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  13. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    YouTube saves me :) Louis CK is very difficult not to laugh at. SO INAPPROPRIATE! :)
     

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