Monday, May 9, 2011

Dealing with Death

We all face death.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.  Along the way, we lose many people we love.  Maybe it should make us cherish life more, be nicer to other people, but for some reason when we’re grieving, it has the opposite effect.  We become moody, and distant from other people around us.  It’s not intentional, but for some reason this is how it works.  (For an expanded discussion on human emotions, you can see “Conflicting Emotions”)

Being faced with death can also make us appreciate what we have more.  It sets us into a deeper line of thinking.  We analyze purpose more than normal.  We look at our life and see where we can make it more meaningful.  Maybe we’ve held an ongoing grudge against someone?  Being faced with the frailty of life may move us to make amends.

At memorials for the lost one, people are brought together that might otherwise never cross paths.  The person who has died touched people we may not even know.  But, it doesn’t matter because everyone is there for the purpose of remembering a friend, or loved one they lost.  Everyone there is assembled due to a shared interest.

So how can we apply the above to our writing?

Keep it realistic.  If your character has lost someone dear to them, don’t make them come across balanced, and unaffected.  Infuse them with fire, and conflict.  Make a person who normally had patience, and self-control, lose their temper.

People “come together” for a certain interest.  It doesn’t just have to be in the above scenario, that of a memorial or funeral.  Maybe it’s witnesses in a case.  A street person, and a rich man both witness a shooting.  Even though their worlds would never otherwise cross paths, a common goal brings them to the same side.

Death makes people think.  Maybe your character is moved to make amends with someone, possibly an estranged relative.

These are just a few things I could think of.  How have you used any of these elements in your writing?  Or do you have any more brainstorming ideas to put them to use?  Please share them.