1. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Feb 24, 2017
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    How long would you expect a character to grieve?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Stormsong07, May 13, 2019.

    Something I've been wondering about for a bit. Working on my final battle scene (in which people will die! duh.) Also reflecting back on earlier in my novel where a significant person in MC's life died suddenly.
    How long do you expect to see the character grieve? I gave MC a couple scenes to cry it out immediately after the event happened, plus some "pangs of sadness" when something reminded her of the dead person.
    I mean, I don't want to spend a lot of time with her crying over this person, but it's not something she would bounce back from right away either. I don't want her to look heartless.
    And as for the battle. What do you expect to see from the survivors of a large (medieval fantasy type) battle afterwards? How much grief/grieving would you put in the story?
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    IDK, need to know what their relationship was, and how much time has
    passed between the two events (being persons death and after the big
    final battle).
  3. Harmonices

    Harmonices Senior Member

    Jan 23, 2019
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    East Anglia
    Unless the death and subsequent grieving were central to the plot, I think that someone grieving in a story, would typically need to grieve less long than a real person. Just because grief can go on a long time. But a reader's patience for fictional accounts of enduring grief, might be less enduring than the grieving.
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  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Jul 24, 2017
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    The great white north.
    People grieve in different ways. Sure, some people do the overt crying thing, and others... well... don't, but that doesn't mean they're heartless. Some people seem to move on really quickly, finish whatever external crisis they're going through, and move on to another without really even showing much outward signs of grief. That doesn't mean, though, that they don't carry that burden with them for years and feel it every time they wake up in the morning without that person next to them. Different people are different and I don't know your characters personalities of how close they were to say how or for how long, but general rule of thumb is half as long as they've known the person, though from personal experience, it could be shorter or much longer.
    LoaDyron, Viridian, Lifeline and 5 others like this.
  5. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

    Sep 1, 2015
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    Canton de Neuchatel, Switzerland
    I think that most people going into a battle are fully aware that death is a possibility. So, I would say that might well negate at least some of the mourning aspect. Plus, unless this battle is a final, they would have other things to worry about. There is a suprisingly large amount to do after a battle that most seem to forget about (like dealing with the bodies, dealing with the campaign, future attacks/defenses, wounded, mopping up, etc... etc...). I would say personally that it would be more logical for people to 'put off' the mourning until after the main campaign / series of battles and have a 'mourning' or rememberence or something after. However, I don't know of anything major in medieval settings coming close to what we would call remembrance (like the unknown soldier). They certainly did have statues and monument but those are fairly modern as far as I am aware.
    LoaDyron and Stormsong07 like this.
  6. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

    Jan 9, 2018
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    It has to mean something to the reader, if it drags on and has nothing to add to the story don't. Grief is different for everyone so you cannot cookie cutter it, if close they may think about or drink a toast in memory to that person. Medieval setting they might wear something of that person as a token.
    Stormsong07 likes this.
  7. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    I think it's something you just have to weave it. It isn't about giving MC huge swaths of text wailing. It's about having this grief affect her every decision and reaction. It's about having this grief colour the way she views the world forever. Grief is a process and never truly goes away. So, to the question of "how long?" For the duration of the book. It should shape and change her character forever.

    ILIAD HAEMIN New Member

    May 12, 2019
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    Sometimes grief isn't necesarrily tears and sobbing uncontrolably. Sometimes grief is a frown at a remembered thing about x, or a louder voice when they are mentioned to dismiss the topic, or a silent scheme which once completed gives the MC the release to then sob, like killing the king of the kingdom that took him away and saying something like "my only regret is that i can kill you but once" (while setting up his thoughts to the person lost....)

    Grief is personal. It can last for ages or be momentary... depending on circumstances and character traits. A good cry is beeded but unless you're trying to made his grief a hurdle he must overcome. (Hence have a psychological undertone to the book) don't feel like you HAVE to repeat big sobbing/tearful moments.

    What you could do to show that x person was influencial is when changing days... say something like...

    " he went to sleep that day, thoughts of x dead in y manner, clouding his dreams again. "

    Then later if he wakes up grumpy and angry the reader will asume this is also something that is bugging him so you will be able to put further details but keep them personal and make the reader feel like he's there observing the person and making his own impresion. Instead of being fistfed a few moments that never get mentioned again.

    But this is just my opinion.

    "Hat lifted and with a deep bow,
    I take my leave while saying Ciao."
    LoaDyron and Stormsong07 like this.
  9. mg357

    mg357 Active Member

    Dec 3, 2012
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    Everyone grieves differently. So your character may grieve for this person. For a short time like a few days or weeks.

    It could take months or years or the character could grieve every day for the rest of there life. But the grieving process may change over time.

    Regarding the battle soldiers prepare from medieval times to the present time.
    Prepare for battle in many different ways.

    Make this characters grief process part of their battle preparation procedure. Here are a couple of suggestions

    They could cry for a few minutes.

    Or they could look at an object that had been previously owned by their dead friend or relative.

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  10. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Aug 30, 2018
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    Norwich, UK
    As someone who has gone through this I can tell you that grief is different for everybody.

    When my Dad died, I cried in the that moment. Then when I got home it all felt so surreal that I didn't cry for another month when it was his funeral. There are stages of grief and each stage can last a different amount of time depending on the individual and the relationship to the one who died. My step-dad's first stage of shock lasted two years, then it hit him his wife was really gone. He just blocked it out and kept himself busy, but it caught up with him in the end. Grief isn't always crying either. It can show in forms on anger (even if misplaced) guilt.

    Learn about grief and if you know your character well you can get their pattern. It's hard. Because you don't want your character constantly moping but you don't want your audience to think your character has forgotten.
    Stormsong07 and LoaDyron like this.
  11. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Contributor Contributor

    Oct 27, 2018
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    Hello, friend. :superhello:

    First, you have to ask yourself what was the relationship between your MC and his/her beloved one, and here can be a parent, animal, or a friend. While you know the answer, then you have to know your character well to understand how to show us (readers) his/her emotions. Some people cry a lot and not get past the grief. Some not cry at all but doesn't mean the individual doesn't feel anything (is simply because, for that person, death is not the end but the begin?). You also have people that cry, but after the next day or a few days, the grief is gone because they have learnt something. Maybe the culture that your MC is can influence how she sees death. And since you desire to write in a medieval fantasy story, I believe (but I will advise you to do some research on this) medieval people were very used to death, so consider this as well.

    I hope this helps. Keep on good work and have fun. :superagree:
    Stormsong07 likes this.

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