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  1. brian david

    brian david New Member

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    Suicidal Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by brian david, Dec 5, 2019.

    Hi, I'm Brian (or I'd prefer you call me as such) and I've been writing an, err, fanfiction for (x) fandom. It's harder for me to work with pre-created characters, so I've been working on this to get a bit better at it, since I liked the idea anyways.

    But I digress. Anyways, in the beginning of the story, it shows a character (pre-known to the intended audience of the story) shoot their self, and it later explains the reasoning behind his actions; though, technically, it's easy to guess from the start.

    For a helpful explanation, it's basically: Character A asks Character B to kill Character C. Character B, however, is friends with Character C, but doesn't want to disappoint Character A. So, Character B commits suicide so they won't have to choose.

    Character B is only important in this story because they add to the background of the story; the actual main character is Character D, who (shockingly) is traumatized after witnessing the video tapes from Character B's death - and from a first person perspective, I might add.

    Frankly, I'm a bit confused on how to write this scene. I've already wrote it down and tried revising it, but I feel like it's been made so poorly it's almost offensive. I want it to be dramatic, but I'll admit I've never tried to write out a character's death before. I also understand that suicide is a sketchy topic (if I release it, I'll make sure to put a warning), and I don't want to seem like a jerk who not only doesn't understand suicide, but acts like it's something to be glorified.

    If necessary, I can submit a copy of the excerpt from the story with the names edited out (I *really* don't want to be copyright claimed, so I plan to release it on one of the websites dedicated for fanfiction, or just hide it in my files forever.)

    This isn't so much of a critique thing so far, I just want to know how to do it, because I feel like it seems poorly written so far. I assumed it didn't belong on workshop because it's not technically me asking for critique; it's me asking for advice.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hi Brian! I'm one of the forum moderators here, and I want to welcome you to the forum. However, I'm afraid there isn't any way to bypass our requirements for the Workshop, if you want 'advice,' critique or whatever for something you've written.

    You can ask for advice in a general sense in the appropriate section of the forum (something like you've done here ...asking what's the best way to write Character A committing suicide, etc), but you can't post your actual writing anywhere BUT the Workshop.

    However, fortunately, it's not all that difficult to do.

    We have three basic requirements for posting in the Workshop.

    1) you have to be a member here for two full weeks

    2) you have to make at least 20 comment posts around the forum (locations are your choice—browse and join in to any threads that draw your interest)

    At this point, our software will allow you to create a thread in the Workshop, and your status will change from New Member, to Member ...displayed underneath your avatar.

    but also...

    3) for every piece of work you put up for feedback, you must have done at least 2 constructive critiques of other people's work. This requirement is in place for as long as you are a member here. 2 critiques : 1 new thread ratio—every time. If you're not sure what we consider a critique, please read this link: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/constructive-critiques.20627/

    This is a give and take forum, and the rules are set up to prevent people joining up, getting advice/critique, then moving on without giving anything back.

    Anyway, while you're finding your feet, please DO read these two links, which will go further explaining what the forum is like, what we have to offer, and what we expect.

    New Member Quick Start
    Forum Rules

    If you have any problems getting settled in, don't hesitate to ask me for help and I'll do what I can to assist. Just click my owl avatar and 'start a conversation' with me.

    Have fun getting to know us, and letting us get to know you. :)

    Cheers, Jan
     
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  3. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Nothing wrong with asking for advice! Sounds like a tricky topic but that shouldn't put you off--in my opinion, writing is all about tackling subjects that we're afraid to talk about in a real life setting. The great thing about writing is that you can speak the truth and not be cornered about it as it's your own work and your entitlement. Providing the intent is clear then writing a suicidal character is fine and I think sugar-coating it would be more offensive than showing it in its real, destressing form. Don't be afraid to show us Character B's agonising and his sense of hopelessness and being 'trapped'. What leads to his suicide is probably more important than the suicide itself. In terms of worrying about being offensive, I'd say show his suicide but maybe don't go overboard with the description. You still want to show us the reality but don't overexaggerate it just to get the point home--shock is good so long as it's not overdone.
     
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  4. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

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    Sometimes the emotion is enough to imply suicide if you aren't comfortable writing it, or aren't confident in your depiction of it. Maybe focus on the conflicted feelings of the character. Put him in a situation where it has the readers fill in the blanks without you explicitly saying "he shot himself dead" or something like that.

    I have 3 instances of suicides in my current WIPs. Only one of them explicitly says that he was hoping to die (he survived the attempt). The others were implied and written about from the POV of an outsider looking in and talked about as such... because unless it is from the character committing suicide, we don't really know whats going through their minds except as an outsider interpreting the actions as such.
    in one of my stories, my young MC witnesses an attempted suicide. She doesn't understand what is happening, but there is enough information there that readers understand, even though the MC doesn't quite know it herself until the end.
     
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  5. Bijed

    Bijed Member

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    Just curious, how much/what information are your prepared to give away in the suicide scene? Is it at all the case that avoiding detail so it can be revealed later is making the scene feel wrong?
     
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  6. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    As a rule, I would avoid any kind of detailed depiction/description of the act of committing suicide. Particularly the specific method used. It's rather graphic and distressing and, more importantly, could inspire others to commit suicide and in the same way. Meanwhile, not actually being a particularly interesting scene in general as it's more the circumstances around it that are really interesting. So often it's just not worth it.
    In a novel or short story format, you can quite easily describe the events of an attempt (successful or not) while intentionally avoiding much detail about the method and focus more on the POV character's thoughts, other events going on around, the atmosphere and setting, or somesuch.
    Consider what details are actually meaningful to the story, positive and productive to depict and what are gratuitous, unnecessary and/or harmful.

    I recommend this video on the subject for some insights and good quality analysis on this and related subjects:
     
  7. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I'd say it sounds like this characters needs to have some pre-existing struggles probably. Having them react too quickly to a difficult moral conundrum with "welp, time to die" could come off as trivialising or melodramatic. But having it be somewhat sudden could work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  8. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Member

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    In the same lines as other people's advice, I'm going to say it'd probably be more effective if you don't have the actual suicide in the story. What's the Tarantino film, Reservoir Dogs? Is that the one where the characters have robbed a bank and it's just the aftermath? We never see them rob the bank, we only see how it's affected the characters afterward. That kind of device sticks with a person.

    A solid lead up to the events in question, then implication, and then the focus can be what comes once the smoke has cleared, so to speak.

    As someone who's attempted, I can say there wasn't fanfare for it. Just emptiness and sudden impulse. Often times those in the throes of it aren't looking to make it a big deal. They want to remain as non-impacting as they already feel.
     
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  9. brian david

    brian david New Member

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    Wow, okay, y'all are giving me good advice. I'm trying to think of things to say in response to them to explain what I'm trying to kind of go for in the story, but I can't exactly figure it out. Either way though, I do think that I'll have to go with just writing out the characters' thoughts rather than the actual event. I didn't particularly want to write about the death much anyways, since it felt a bit like glorifying it to me.
     
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  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You don't have to reply to everybody, if that seems overwhelming! You got a really good, comprehensive response, didn't you? You're off to a very good start here. Hope it gives you the confidence to build your story. :)
     
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