Traumatic or Dramatic? Life after a Death Scene

5 Jan

As you all know I have recently written a death scene in my current WIP. It was difficult. As you can imagine killing off a character is a risky business and is never taken lightly, but I’m finding that writing the reaction and subsequent effects of the death is far harder than composing the actual death scene!

In light of this today’s post is about creating the chaotic after math and making said after math real and believable, traumatic not dramatic. O.O

Creating the emotional peril a death causes is extremely tricky and nearly impossible to do without thorough research. To understand how to write the aftermath you must first understand the real world consequences of grief. To begin since I love definitions I’m going to define grief.

Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions.

Note the bold text above thank you. Yes so as you see here grief is not a specific feeling and is definitely not something you can sum up with in one or two chapters and put a close to. No after that death the reaction from the character will carry through to the very  end or until the come to terms with the death.

Like I said before we need to understand real grief to make fictional grief so I am now going to break down the five stages of grief and how they should appear in a novel:

  1. Denial and Isolation.
    At first, the character will be in shock, the denial of the person’s death will be there first reaction. This occurs in real life to block the mind from the immediate pain of the person’s death. Often people experiencing the first stage of grief will become quiet and contemplative. This is the time to slow down and take a breather from the action and do a little soul searching with your protagonist.
  2. Anger.
    After stage one people often become angry, particularly at the one who inflicted the hurt (this may be your villain, the person who has died and caused this reaction, or even the protagonist there self) The person may even become angry at the world for the fact that it happened at all. This anger is often without reason and is not rational.
  3. Bargaining.
    Often people (especially those who have strong religious backgrounds) begin to bargain asking god if they do this or that if he will take away the loss or the hurt it has caused.
  4. Depression.
    This is the most prolonged stage for most people. It is the stage where your character will feel numb and apathetic, even if sadness and anger are still present under the surface.
  5. Acceptance.
    This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have ended. The character simply accepts the reality of the loss. Though missing that person never truly disappears. This is also the state where your protagonist will stop blaming themselves or others for the persons death

These five stages should all occur after a death at some point in the novel, but they need to be tailored to the protagonist. If they are a spit fire they may spend more time being angry than sad or perhaps their depression is still mixed with anger. Some seek comfort or recognition of there own guilt from others while some would prefer isolation. One character will react radically different from another in response to a death. These five things are more of a guideline then a clear list of rules.

Writing out your protagonist character traits and examining them next to this list can help. Understanding basic human psychology is an important factor in writing anything, especially a death scene.

Hopefully this blog post will help put an end to the dramatics and start you up on getting traumatic!


3 Responses to “Traumatic or Dramatic? Life after a Death Scene”

  1. thewatersedgecarrie January 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    YAY !!!! thanks for the tips!!!!i working on this part in the story right now!!!:D

  2. nkeda14 January 8, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Glad I could help, hope it works out okay! 😀


  1. Top 11 Posts of 2011 « NOVEL IDEAS - December 16, 2011

    […] 1. Traumatic or Dramatic? Life after a Death Scene […]

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