1. TyrannusRex
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    TyrannusRex Member

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    Writing Tragedy (I Think...)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by TyrannusRex, Jul 6, 2016.

    (This could just as easily go under character development, so please move it if you see fit.)
    I have an idea bouncing around for (what I think is) a tragic story, in the sense that the main character will wind up dead by the end of it, probably by suicide. I obviously want the reader to sympathize with this guy, to be moved by a human experience, but my only real experience with tragedy is Shakespeare, and not the Modern English version either.
    I'll take any advice I can get.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Tragedy isn't a genre, and you can have tragedy in many genres or in non-genre (literary) fiction. Do you know which genre you want to write in? What happens, apart from the main character dying? If you can narrow it down I'm sure we can recommend some similar sad-ending stories for you to read up on.
     
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  3. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check out Greek tragedy. Medea and Elektra are good places to start.
     
  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Had a pirate evolve from his introduction as an obviously ruthless individual, into a very professional criminal, double-crossed by an accomplice, had to form an alliance with the people he hijacked, which evolves into a respectful but skeptical thing into a friendship with them as he gets them to their destination (China) for a generous "ransom" . He then rescues them there, and uses his talent for skullduggery and creative law-breaking to get them out of China alive. He becomes their leader for a while, their father figure. Always ready with a joke, whenever thing got risky.

    He had encountered someone in his past who affected him greatly, though he never understood him. He had sailed with someone named Paul 40 years ago (@60AD) from Caesarea to Myra as a deckhand, then Paul changed ships for Rome and was shipwrecked, the same storm blew Ibrahim into his life of piracy. In Bactria (Afghanistan) with his new friends he encounters a Christian community, which is astounded to meet someone who knew Paul. After struggling with the concept of forgiveness of sins, he reluctantly becomes a Christian. Had been an Epicurean, who believed we were just random collections atoms with no afterlife, which appealed to him much more than some afterlife where he might pay for his sins... he had more than a few.

    The Senator is promising a pardon and citizenship for the man formerly the most wanted pirate in the eastern Med when they get back to Rome. Just when we have begun to really love this guy, he encounters his nemesis and former accomplice from the beginning of the story who tries to kill not only him, but all his friends. The villain dies for the effort, but not before fatally wounding Ibrahim with a fatal sucking chest wound. So he says goodbye to his friends and adopted son, removes the centurion's hand from his wound and dies. The Jew in the company sings the Kadesh for him, as they now share the same god.

    Tragic enough? Make them love the character, before you kill him off.
     
  5. TyrannusRex
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    TyrannusRex Member

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    All that is lovely, but I already have a plot, characters and everything. :supersmile:
    It's really more of a fan-work to elaborate on an untouched part of the canon.
    I filled out one of those "character questionnaires" to get to know him better, and I certainly did.
    I guess you could call the category modern/near-future fiction. The setting is like ours, but there's some outlandish tech in there. He's a scientist.
     
  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    In my understanding 'tragedy' refers to a story with a sad ending (c.f. 'comedy' = happy ending). If you've decided to write a tragedy, having the MC die/suicide certainly sounds like sad ending material (although wouldn't necessarily have to be :)). Is it a straight tragedy, where the protagonist fails to achieve what s/he aspires to, thus the ending is sad? Or maybe it's a 'comitragedy', where s/he manages to accomplish whatever-it-is, but then finds out it wasn't a good thing to do? I'm not really sure what you want help with...

    Perhaps you want advice on how to get the reader to identify with the character's tribulations so that the sad ending really hits them in the gut? I suppose you should portray a character that is trying to do 'the right thing', and show them making decisions that the reader would likely make themselves (or at least that the reader would respect the character for making). Beyond that, I'm not sure we can help much until you actually provide some information on the character and plot...
     
  7. TyrannusRex
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    TyrannusRex Member

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    I guess I'm having trouble because the character that this story centers around is basically an enigma. As mentioned, the canon surrounding him is sketchy altogether...
    Still, I suppose I should elaborate.
    This character is a well-known scientist, working on a great project that will help the people of his land a great deal. However, it's more of a facade to hide his actual work, which is more ethically controversial. He's basically trying to tinker with human life and see if there is a way to achieve immortality.
    He's a major introvert, preferring to keep emotion to himself, but by the end of the story he has one good friend through which we see his inner humanity emerge.
    However, an accident occurs during an experiment, and it is determined that his injuries/exposure will eventually kill him. This is crushing to him, as it means not only could his work go unfinished without his guidance (and thus the Fountain of Youth is never found), but that he himself would not be able to use it. Still, he continues his work, but eventually his body becomes so wracked with pain, and his mind begins to falter so, that he feels he is a shadow of his former self, and so chooses to end it all. :bigfrown:
     
  8. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    At the risk of coming off as annoying.

    Horace and Pete by Louis CK is a web series anyone should watch. Especially if you are into tragedy.
     
  9. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    Strictly speaking, a tragedy is a drama in which an otherwise good person comes to ruin through a flaw in his or her character. This "tragic flaw" determines the course of action for the character by forcing the character to act in a manner that is self-destructive, yet inevitable if he or she is to be consistent. Think Hamlet (reluctance to act until it is too late), Macbeth (greed for power without the moral fiber to wield it intelligently), Willy Lohman (putting career over family), Nixon (secrecy combined with obsessive need to control)...

    Puppies dying in a house fire ... that's sad, but it's not tragedy. It's pathos.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    What if the puppies liked to play with matches?
     
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  11. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Liked to play with matches = a sad ending

    Unable to control their lust for fire = tragedy
     
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  12. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Puppies dying in a house fire... hot dogs... comedy? :meh:

    Strictly speaking, that's one specific dramatic tradition of tragedy (classical, I think?) amongst many, not that it's a bad one.

    Having reflected, I think the most inclusive definition of tragedy is 'a story that focuses on human sapient sentient(?) suffering'. Although that could encompass black humour as well, so it probably needs to be fueled by pathos to count as tragedy. I now think my original assertion of 'having a sad ending' wasn't 100% correct (but is probably true in the vast majority of cases).
     
  13. TyrannusRex
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    TyrannusRex Member

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    This actually helps a lot. It certainly puts the protag in context.
     

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