1. Azryth Kieratane
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    Azryth Kieratane New Member

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    How to describe dying.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Azryth Kieratane, May 24, 2012.

    My main character dies but remains in the world as a spirit. How can i describe dying or how it feels not being flesh and blood?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You could read other "crossing into the light" stories to see how they handle it. One option is to gloss over the transition, perhaps the spirit doesn't remember it any more than a newborn remembers birth.

    You could start with something like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

    There's also the 1990 movie Ghost.
     
  3. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I imagine not having a body would feel very dream like, but it's your story so go with whatever suits you. I suppose the actual death would feel differently depending on how your character dies. Maybe it feels like melting or burning. Maybe it's disorienting. Maybe it's euphoric. Go with whatever works best for your story.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe, as in The Sixth Sense, some dead people don't even know they're dead. Obviously, nothing unusual happened to them when they passed on.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, the series The Ghost Whisperer used that model. Many of the ghosts didn't realize they were dead.
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Depends what killed them.

    Also, most of the time when people portray dying wrong, they have the person too aware, or feeling too much pain. For example, most people assume that if you freeze to death, you'll feel cold to the point of agonizing pain. Actually, that's only in the earliest stages of freezing - as you get hypothermia, you stop feeling cold, and in fact you may even feel uncomfortably warm. Plus confused and very sleepy. Then you fall asleep, and never wake up.

    Research the specific processes involved in your character's cause of death. Plus find people who almost died of the same thing and see how they describe it.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    So many options for so many variables. You can describe it a number of ways. What do you want to happen?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Plus there are few if any reliable reports about what actually dying feels like. Makes research a bit sketchy.

    So make something up. It will be very hard to gainsay with any authority.
     
  9. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I do know I spoke with a woman recently who experienced a spinal cord injury. She had fallen, hit her head (bad enough) but fell into a small ditch. When her family went to pick her up, they didn't think to stabalize her spine. When she fell, she fractured one of her vertebrae leaving a sharp edge, next to her spine. When her head fell backward, that edge severed the spinal cord. She did not feel pain, but describes feeling as though electrical jolts were running from that point down her entire body. She said "something bad just happened. Call 911" and passed out. The injury could have killed her had the cord been severed any further as the injury was close enough to the nerves that control the diaphragm.

    In fact, many of our patients on the brain injury and spinal cord injury unit report little to no pain at injury (strokes report a massive headache and a "train" sound). The patients we get are accute. They leave the original hospital as miracles because they aren't expected to survive. I just figured, I would give a little information on what some of my patients expressed at their life threatening injuries and potential sensations you could work with.
     
  10. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    I watched a documentary once on near death experiences. There was a common experience amongst most of them when they were just an inch away from death; the pain subsided and all of a sudden they started feeling a great sensation of one they have never felt before. They literally said "I would go back to feeling that again, it's the best feeling I have ever felt." Just a hunch but this could be the same feeling one gets under the influence of ecstasy; I've heard that when you die, all your dopamine activates to "ease" you into an easier death.
     
  11. YugiohPro01
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    YugiohPro01 Member

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    Look you can't really describe death factually or without your own ideas and opinion. Death is more of a philosophical idea and manifestation than it is about facts. It is like trying to describe God for an example. We can all imagine him with white robes and a white beard but that's only because people imagined him that way not because he is that way. So all I can help with is to think of your own way to describe death. You don't even have to describe it as a feeling, you can just take the character to some point of life he remembers or enjoyed. For an example, I recently read a book entitled "The Five People you Meet in Heaven". It is a rather easy read, it's about a hundred pages or so and is not to be ranked among the most complex books, however the author had an interesting way of describing the character's transition into the afterlife. Instead of describing death as painful or graceful or any other feeling, the author described the character's 5th birthday because the character dies on his 83th birthday and throughout the novel we are reminded of several of his birthdays, which the author uses to improve the character development. So I'm not advising to copy this style but you might want to do something similar.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you want to write a story about near-death, there is research material available. But if you are writring from the perspective of the afterlife, the only research available is how other authors have treated it.

    There is no legitimate reason to assume the near-death experience has anything to do with the post-death experience.

    No one has come back from the other side, save for a reported incident a couple of millennia ago, to report on what it feels like to have actually died.

    So you're on your own.
     
  13. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I think one of the best parts of writing is being able to create your own world. No one truly knows what happens in the afterlife. There's literature and film that deals with this type of things in different ways. You could take your own approach. Perhaps it's physically painful being a spirit? Perhaps he can't feel anything at all? Perhaps he can suddenly speak every language ever spoken?
     
  14. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    It depends how they died, although nobody can say for sure that "dying of old age is painless" or "it hurts a lot to get burnt to death" or anything like that. Also, what it's like after death can depend on your religious beliefs. For example, do you believe once you're dead you're dead and that's it, or do you believe that dead people go to heaven? Obviously, the two would make for very different stories.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not necessarily dependent on your religious beliefs. Say instead that it is dependent on the view of the afterlife you are putting forth for your story.

    Challenge yourself. Wrap your brain around a completely different kind of afterlife than you personally believe in, and see where it takes your story.
     
  16. jfcastillo
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    jfcastillo New Member

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    A book I once read that was about a girl who was killed and remained a spirit is "Remember Me" by Christopher Pike. Man, I used to love reading his books! Maybe I'll dig one out. :D
     
  17. Mandy Norman
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    Mandy Norman New Member

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    I have a similar struggle with describing death. One story I'm writing revolves around spirits and people that can rip souls right out of people (essentially killing them). The main soul character I use for this story becomes a soul after his soul is torn from his body while sleeping and is snapped in half; one half leaves with the souls snatcher, the other is how he remains in the story struggling with the breakage between his soul(s) and his body. See how I describe this here? Rip, torn, snap, break, etc. Those kind of words are something I like to use as a stylistic thing, so maybe try focusing on the adjectives themselves first that best describe the type of death you're going for and push it over the edge with words that would make it more interesting (even if its not typical). Sometimes it works and people are roped in realizing it makes sense somehow, and sometimes it doesn't work and you feel like nobody's going to understand it because you stylized it too much. Just play with it. I still am. (And if anybody wants to call me out on this let me know, I am always accepting of critiques and don't wanna misdirect anybody.)
     

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