1. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    How to write a funeral?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ulramar, Aug 5, 2014.

    So, one of my characters just died. And my world isn't too chaotic right now so they're having a funeral.

    It starts off with everyone arriving. I don't say who dies until like 1/4 of the way in, because it's a plot twist (the last line of the previous chapter is one guy pretty much dying but he really just lost consciousness, and then in this chapter he gets out of the car with his wife and they walk to the plot where the real dead friend is).

    It's also a military funeral. He was in two different militaries at two different times so they're both sort of doing their traditions during the event.

    So, how do I write a funeral? I've never been to one so I'm not really sure what to have the characters say. The tone should obviously be dour and slightly scornful, but I'm struggling with this. Is it too cliche to have it rain?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    "A funeral."

    I wouldn't necessarily go into the specifics of what most people say unless it's important. Go for summary over scene. If you try writing a generalized eulogy, it will just feel boring--but writing "The minister delivered a eulogy" will work fine. (Don't actually write that. That's a crappy sentence. But you get the gist.) Just write the specifics that are key to that character. If you want it to be a twist, offer subtle hints. If those hints come through in dialogue, make those the specific quotations. Honestly, funerals are pretty quiet affairs as far as talking goes, so just try to create that sort of atmosphere. People cry. People play organs. A few people speak at a podium. Maybe a choir.

    Never been to a military funeral. You'll have to do research--which goes beyond asking people on here what a military funeral is like.

    I think you should just write this (word for word):

    "They arrived at the funeral--a military funeral, and a double feature at that. No one spoke, except for the Minister, who delivered the eulogy--in silence. And here's the twist: it was Person B, not Person A who died. Dun Dun Dunnnn. What will our heroes do next? Stay tuned!"
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can you clarify this a little more? I don't think that you mean scornful.
     
  4. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well they all know (it's been a week since the death), just the reader doesn't.

    On the rest of what you said, I was trying to make the funeral take up a chapter, but I guess that probably wouldn't work. Thanks!
     
  5. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah I do. The person who killed the character is a caster (sorcerer) that went insane. The PoV character is also a caster that has a high chance to go insane and kill a lot of people, so many people are very scornful when talking to him.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah! That makes sense. I thought that you meant that funerals in general were scornful. :)
     
  7. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not that I know of :)
     
  8. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    Considering the fact that you're writing a fantasy (I guess, because of the sorcerers?) I don't think it's very important whether you've been to a funeral or not. I'd say be creative. Use some elements from different movies, TV-series and books, but create also something new.
    IMO, the funerals are usually all very similar, so if this is not a vital scene, I'd try to be brief with it. If it's important, create some new elements, so the reader won't be just like "oh, a funeral...", or spice things up with dialogues, some unexpected events...

    That's my opinion. :)
     
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  9. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The fantasy part will take a major part (like how the military does the shooting guns thing, but with fireballs), that's kind of why I want to use this as a world building thing.

    And there'll be an unexpected event (the PoV character will be attacked by bystanders).
     
  10. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand. :)

    I don't know, I can't offer you other advice but this: since you're writing in a certain PoV, don't blindly describe the funeral just for the sake of funeral, but live it through character's mind. If he doesn't care about firework, don't describe it, just mention it through him. "...his thoughts were interrupted by loud explosions of...."

    You are probably aware of that, so this is just a friendly reminder in case you forgot. :rofl:
     
  11. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Friendly reminders are always welcome. Thank you :D

    Yeah I'm kinda looking through what I have. The PoV character tried to give a eulogy but it was clunky. I'm not sure how I'll do this.
     
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  12. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're welcome. :)

    It looks like you're having block of a sort, eh? :meh:
    Don't worry, you'll get it right. :)
    If it's not necessary that the PoV character gives a speech, maybe some other character can give it? That way, you can also focus more on the funeral and PoV character. That happens also in movies; a priest gives a speech, while MC subtly exchanges words with someone else or is more attentive about funeral, surroundings...
     
  13. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    This writers block sucks because I knocked out two chapters in like 8 hours, so this one came and I ran into it like it was a brick wall.

    Yeah I think I'll cut the PoV's speech. I though it was okay but it was way too clunky and made the dead character seem like an ass (probably not a good thing to say at a funeral). I'll get it eventually.
     
  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The biggest thing about an American military funeral is the flag. Every service man gets one, and it's draped over the coffin up until the point that the casket is lowered into the ground. Before that happens one of the service men attending the funeral will fold it, a drawn out process, and present it to the surviving family.

    On a personal note, when we were arranging my grandfather's funeral the undertakers asked if we'd like to see the coffin lowered into the ground. Apparently this is a tradition in the South. We hedged over the matter, some of us for it and some against, until the nice woman said this, "Everyone who has opted for that has come to me later and said, 'I really wish I hadn't done that'."

    And yes, the rain is cliche. I'm not sure of the correct course with the flag in that circumstance. You can't fly a regular flag in the rain, but I think it's okay if it gets wet. But I think the military would take precautions to prevent that, because if you fold up a wet flag it's going to take forever to dry out and might get moldy.
     
  15. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah the flag is a VERY big part. They're leaving one draped over the coffin (American Flag) to give to the friends (Family is dead or unknown whereabouts). Then there'll be two other flags of other factions going down with the coffin.

    And when you mean seeing the coffin lowered, you mean like instead of walking away when the put it in the ground you stay to watch it? Or am I misinterpreting?

    And I think I'm going to skip the rain. The first draft of the chapter started out with a scornful "The sun is shining today. How dare the sun shine on such a painful day like this?"
     
  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That is exactly what I mean. Apparently the cold reality of death witnessed as your loved one is lowered into the uncaring earth with a heart rending finality isn't for everyone.

    I watched the man die, I think that was enough for me.
     
  17. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah that sounds painful. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that (or how the characters will, rather) since his body isn't really there. They saw him go down but his body was incinerated to ash right there. There's no body to put in the casket.
     
  18. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Like others said, if it's a military funeral, then the deceased's flag/colors would be draped over his/her coffin. Not sure if this is strictly an American thing or not, though. I always thought everyone did that. But at any rate, they would also have, I imagine, a portrait of the deceased in his/her military uniform next to the coffin.
     
  19. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    There'll be a photo, though I don't know if I'm going to show the scene in THAT much detail. Maybe the PoV will pick it up and monologue.
     
  20. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    If it's fantasy then the world's your oyster and you can have the funeral any way you please. IMHO, rain is cliché ... (I just wrote a funeral in the blazing sunshine actually).

    You mentioned something about someone getting attacked at the funeral, I would think this would be totally acceptable as anyone will tell you, emotions run high at any funeral and each person deals with death differently. Maybe the attacker has spent the last week going over the persons death and at the funeral, finally works out who the killer is and is absolutely incensed (sp) to see the killer at the funeral crying fake tears? That would be enough to push his/her emotions over the edge.

    Good Luck x
     
  21. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's more like people upset at the PoV over other things attacking him. These people couldn't care less about the guy who died in all honesty. And thanks :D

    So a little update since I've been working at this since I posted the thread..... It's going slightly better. It's more descriptive, tensions are running higher between people with awkwardness between the two military's honor guards, yeah. When it's done I might post it in the Workshop just to get some feedback. Honestly this chapter sucks to write.
     
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  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've been to a few funerals the tone can be surprisingly upbeat - you're seeing friends and family you haven't seen in years. But it truly depends on who died and how. An older person - the tone is more upbeat and level, there's sadness yes, but you look around and there's still loved ones so it's bittersweet. However, a younger person - the sadness is intensified to the point where it's almost unbearable.
     
  23. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    We all have chapters like that but glad to hear you're getting through it! x
     
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  24. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah he's like 27 and he essentially murdered. The only people who are happy are the ones who WEREN'T murdered.

    And thanks :D When I'm upset over something I write I actually feel like I did a good job to me, so I'm happy about it.
     
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  25. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's spot on. Especially the way someone died. One of my characters died saving the life of a child. He was a very confused and easy lead down the bad tracks kind of character that had started to turn his life around so his death was like his ultimate repayment for his past. (the life he saved was the brother of a life he took).

    So there's a lot of emotion. Some think he deserved to die while others think his death was too high a price to pay.
     

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