1. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Pushing Emotion

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by seta, Aug 17, 2009.

    Sometimes when I'm writing, I feel unable to convey the emotion of the situation. I just had a few characters die and it feels bland and empty. I have had plenty of emotional tension throughout the book, but I'm wondering how readers react to this?

    I remember when Mara Jade died, it really didn't feel that bad (Sacrifice). However, in Order 66, when Etain died I actually cried. Perhaps it's all a matter of the reader's personal attachment to the characters?

    Maybe I will gain more insight when I go back to revise my work.
     
  2. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I'm trying to think about what makes the death of a character sad. Usually it's not so much the reaction of the other characters, though it does partially depend on that, it normally has more to do with the attachment I've felt to that character through the story.

    You don't cry when the villain dies, only when the hero dies. Sadness comes from the attachment. I've cried happy tears and sad tears reading books and watching movies. Depending on the book or the movie, I may not cry in subsequent viewings.

    Like take Titanic for example. Cried like a baby the first time I saw it, watched recently and found myself scoffing at how bad the movie was now. My Life with Micheal Keaton and Nicole Kiddman makes me cry every time. I cry every time I watch Braveheart. I cry every time I've read Mists of Avalon.

    I don't cry a lot, but when I do it's an uncontrollable reaction to the situation.

    A scene I just wrote, where someone dies, I wouldn't expect the reader at this point in the story to cry over that person's death. However, when I kill off one of the MC's it's going to be a cry worthy event.
     
  3. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Attachment does come into it, but you also have to consider the circumstances of someone's death.

    Don't get that confused with how people react to it or how it happened: It's more to do with why and what will happen as a result of it.

    I've only been tempted to cry twice (and actually cried once, but they were manly tears - TEARS OF HOT-BLOODED MANLINESS) while watching/reading something, and the reason usually runs along the same lines: I didn't want them to die, they didn't deserve it and it's the last thing I expected.

    The book example is Firesong, the last book in the Wind on Fire trilogy (Good read, for a kid's book). I'm not going to ruin it for anyone but a central character sacrifices themselves to instigate the world's salvation: My only gripe is that there was almost no hinting to it at all.

    The second example is from Fullmetal Alchemist: Quite a few people buy the farm, but there's one person I think everyone agrees was a tragic loss. Again, I'm going to avoid spoilers but a leading and dedicated support character works day and night to help the MC from behind the scenes. Just as they've begun to unravel a major conspiracy that almost the entire cast is oblivious to, they are betrayed and murdered. To everyone at the time, the death is a bizarre killing: No-one finds out exactly how or why he died.

    The final example is from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. I'm tempted to give it away because it happens painfully early, but a spoiler is a spoiler. This one is usually regarded as too cliche, especially on type as opposed to on screen, but the series itself doesn't so much as explore new territory as it does fortify old turf with diamond-plate walls. There's an old tradition of a support character too powerful to be allowed to survive (from a writer's perspective) in the short term that always comes back to save everyone in their darkest hour. Obi-wan and Gandalf are excellent examples of this, but neither of them can match the pure awesomeness of
    Kamina. First Google image result: "Manlier than you could ever hope to be". So true.

    The long and short of it is that you should build up an admiration of the character to be offed by the reader. Without that, the fuss that everyone makes about their passing will come across as flat and overdrawn.

    On the other hand if you characterise the dead-man-walking well, their sacrifice is something that will carry on for the entirety of the story: however long or short that may be.
     
  4. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Very good points. The admiration fostered in the reader was the link I was missing. I realized that emotion in the reader played a key.

    Much to meditate on, I have.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    [/yoda] much? XD
     

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