1. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    How do you break up a sad story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sundowner, Jun 13, 2015.

    My current project is basically "everyone mc knows dies one by one as their life spirals out of control". I wouldn't call it angsty, everything happens for a reason and has an effect. It doesn't happen out of nowhere, in fact you can see it coming. But still, it's one bad event after another, and I'm fearing that I'll be suffocating the reader with nothing but negativity. I want to break up the sad bits with something a little more lighhearted in between, but I have no idea what. Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do to fix it?
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Fault in Our Stars used humour to great effect - perhaps you could do similarly? Besides, there must be good moments in between the tragedies right?
     
  3. james82
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    james82 Member

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    The problem is just thinking of the reader too much as a whole. I'm not thinking about the reader
    like at all while I write my story, whether characters die off or bad events take place, which I also
    have present in my current project, I'm just writing it. It's going where it's going.
    If you get hung up too much on "the reader" that's when resistance tends to set in and you find
    yourself scrambling to please them when what you already have may simply be necessary to
    conclude your story. And you should definitely not be thinking of the reader when writing your first
    draft, when writing from your heart, and everything's just pouring onto the page. Just write
    it, satisfy yourself as the writer first, and then take them into consideration later, once
    everything has become cohesive.
     
  4. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Yes, I was considering humor. I wasn't sure if it would seem too... contrasty, but it'll probably work out. Yeah I have some mechanisms in place for some good moments, maybe I can focus on them more to get the most out of them.

    Don't get me wrong, I know about writing for myself and not for the "reader", but I still don't want to completely exclude them. I've got a little bit of a performer gene in me. I don't let it get in the way though.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh nothing wrong with keeping your reader in mind - we all want our work to be read, so that's only smart :D

    The contrast, if done well, could make your piece more powerful. Personally I think that's what made Fault in Our Stars so good, actually - making the reader laugh at the saddest moment and letting them feel that sting of irony in their chest, feel that spark of joy just to know it's all in vain and fleeting - that's a heck of an emotional rollercoaster :) and a good one I think!
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I like to use humor, joy, success. Even in downcast moments people have small victories. You can even spot this happening in movies. Take the Grapes of Wrath - the Joad family is going through ever horror imaginable and they finally make it to a decent camp where they can feel human again and ( it's a small moment ) Rosie-Sharon, whose husband has run out on her, is sitting at the dance refusing to dance but she has put on her mother's earrings. The earrings shown in a previous scene as one of the few things salvaged in their soon to be torn down home.
    Give your characters a chance to enjoy things. Have a touch of hope.
     
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  7. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    I think that's exactly what I was missing @peachalulu ! Small victories. Silver linings. Yeah, I think that's what separates the uninteresting depressing from actual touching moments. I'm going to have to think about what I can do to save this story now.
     
  8. Victoria Griffin
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    Victoria Griffin Member

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    I completely agree with peachalulu.

    Depending on your storyline (if your characters' lives were happier in the past), you could also add some scene contrast with flashbacks.
     
  9. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Happy places.

    Not to sound sassy but it's that easy. Bring your characters to a happy place, away from all their sorrows.
     
  10. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Haha, I've done just that since yesterday. Got a few quiet places for them to rest actually, it works pretty well.
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Humor is how I did it. Thing is humor is hard to write for me. In a weird sense of the word. I have never in my life tried to write a funny scene yet they keep popping up in my work. So maybe my advise is less on creating a scene that is supposed to be funny and more slow the pacing down. With nothing bad happening it should naturally have a contrast to all the sadness.

    In my case as example A child was murdered. A woman wanted revenge(the aunt) and I wanted what happened to sort of sink in. So I slowed the pacing and gave a reason for the MC to be stuck unable to seek out revenge immediately. The scene became funny but in either case I think the value was it slowing down which in turn gave the sadness more value.

    Does that make sense?
     
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