Welcome to September's installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. A monthly gathering of writers shouting our hopes, dreams, and fears at the wind.
Please go here to find out more! http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html
Today's blog is about dealing with loss and our characters. I have recently suffered a loss in my family and to be honest, I wasn't sure about blogging today. But, blogging is sort of like journaling, and my own loss made me think about our characters and their losses.
Every single person on this planet will face loss differently. We all grieve differently, based on our own backgrounds, character, religious beliefs, and the specific situation. Our characters are "real" in that they need to react uniquely to fit them, not how the writer wants them to react (a formerly meek and dependent person suddenly becoming tough and fighting back for example). Or how society expects someone to react. Grief is unique for each character.
Grief is often used as a launching point for a story. The character's life changes drastically at a significant loss. The death of the character's mentor is a very well used trope and is a simple launching pad to propel the character forward. It gets used too often, so if someone does want to use it, I'd suggest a twist. But many times death is used as the catalyst, but then forgotten. The character musters on, forging the changes they need to, but there is no other reaction. Not much more from them, nor the people around them.
That's another issue- the people around them. Some people will identify too closely with the loss, and fade away--it's too close to their own fears, so they avoid the person completely. Others may respond completely inappropriately as they aren't sure what to say or do.
Building in grief and it's outcome can be a huge motivator for change in a story, but make sure it feels real. Now, this comes with the dialogue caveat-with dialogue it needs to feel real, but not BE real because it would bore the reader. Dealing with grief needs to feel real, but not BE real. But make sure it lingers in the character's changes, in reactions (or non-reactions) from those around them.
Grief and loss are also a reflection of a society. Our society, for example, really avoids talking about death. But other cultures see it as part of living. Use your character's loss to also show more about their world, their culture.
And remember, there is no wrong way to grieve.