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onions
January 30th, 2006, 05:57 AM
...Something I find extremely hard to do.

Meaning both physical and mental anguish.

I don't mind making characters suffer, mind you, but I find it hard to actually go and describe.
I tend to get artsy and distance myself from it instead of letting emotions get to the reader.
I guess I've got inner barriers. (Someone recommended acting excercises...)

Anyway, I'm interested in what experiences you've had with this and how you go about it

choppy
January 30th, 2006, 10:25 PM
This is an interesting question. I think I don't try to explain the suffereing so much as try to show its indirect effects on the character and those around him or her. So for example a character under mental anguish may not be able to sleep to the point of physical exhaustion, or adopt some sort of psychological compensation such as self abuse, withdrawl, or turn his or her anguish outwards in acts of violence.

BlueAngel
January 30th, 2006, 10:36 PM
I think I don't try to explain the suffereing so much as try to show its indirect effects on the character and those around him or her. So for example a character under mental anguish may not be able to sleep to the point of physical exhaustion, or adopt some sort of psychological compensation such as self abuse, withdrawl, or turn his or her anguish outwards in acts of violence.

This is definitely a great suggestion. It goes in line with what I've been told lately, "Show, don't tell". One of my own characters has this sort of thing going on with her. She is so distraught emotionally within that she begins to lash out with violence and also has suicidal tendencies.~Angela

Expendable
January 30th, 2006, 10:53 PM
How does being scared make you feel? Shaky? Cold? Sick to your stomach? Eyes darting wildly? Heart pounding in your chest? Feeling breathless? Can't stop crying?

How does being angry make you feel? Want to lash out and hit something, someone? Destroy something, someone? Feeling Hot? Red? Yelling and scowling at people? Shoving anything out of your path?

Ask yourself. Watch what other people do.

Darkin
February 1st, 2006, 12:00 AM
Ive been avoiding this thread because I love to make my characters suffer. Fear, anguish, pain, joy, love, denial, violence all the extremes of the human experience. In my horror writing I like to expose people to the kind of suffering that changes them permanently, either emotionally, psychologically or physically.

In my comedy writing (yeah I do both with equal enthusiasm) I like to push them to extremes of the absurd. The worst thing that can happen usually does and the reaction of the characters is also amplified.


If your characters dont suffer - then you dont have a story worth remembering.

So you know I read this story where no one really suffered, or felt anything ...

Oh yeah what was it about?

Dunno, never finished reading it.

Sid_Fallon
February 2nd, 2006, 06:46 AM
Everybody's happy in my novel. All...the...time.

Okay maybe not. :D

There are certain types of suffering I haven't written. For example, I've hinted about the rape of a character, but I haven't had the courage to write it. It's important to see the effects of it though. I have no problem writing about after-the-fact suffering...which is probably worse in degree I would think.

I write a lot of mental suffering. Psychological pain. It's easy for the reason that I think it's important. Seeing a scar on a character's skin is less striking to me than a scar in their minds (making how they talk, move, act, all that more appealing and understandable). Importance is the driving force/motivation for writing it. It might help you to sit down and lits the reasons why it SHOULD be written. Of course, a good exercise to get yourself to write suffering, would be remembering that it is important to make a story realistic, and to allow readers to associate themselves with the character.

Sometimes artsy suffering is good, I think. But gritty suffering shocks and connects readers, creating a real world, not just poetry of pain. It all depends on the overall style of the story, the character's type, and...something else I can't remember.:) I haven't slept yet. :eek: :eek: Not sure whether all I've just said makes any sense.

-sid-

Final07
February 2nd, 2006, 09:16 AM
How does being scared make you feel? Shaky? Cold? Sick to your stomach? Eyes darting wildly? Heart pounding in your chest? Feeling breathless? Can't stop crying?

How does being angry make you feel? Want to lash out and hit something, someone? Destroy something, someone? Feeling Hot? Red? Yelling and scowling at people? Shoving anything out of your path?

Ask yourself. Watch what other people do.

that's great advice, and is what i do to get a character's reaction/ emotion. it's important to watch everything around you as a potential aspect of your story. everything. how someone reacts to trival things can make your story a lot more believable.

BrightStar
December 20th, 2008, 06:24 AM
My main character has it pretty easy for the first ten pages of my WIP. After that, he rarely catches a break!

Most of what my character goes through is mental anguish. By about chapter four or five, he has been through an experience that practically destroys who and what he is. Although this event caused him a lot of pain, the thing that he remembers most about it is the emotional effect on him: his despair and confusion and the hopelessness of his loss. When I wrote that scene, it was those things that I focussed on.

My WIP is pretty dark, so there's a lot of opportunity to make characters suffer a great deal. I do try to keep a level of balance on what's going on though: if I have my character fall apart in chapter three, there's going to be nothing left I can threaten him with later. Conflict will be difficult to create if I've already done the worst I can to my characters. I never write suffering (physical or emotional) just for the sake of there being suffering. There's always a reason why a character is experiencing what they do, and why those involved choose to take that particular course of action.

I don't think I'm too screamish about what I write about. When it comes to physical suffering, and in particular, torture, however, I tend to be of the belief that these are the sort of things that often work best if you leave a lot to the reader's imagination. There's only so many times a reader can read about a character being punched or kicked, etc, before they're going to start getting a little bored. That's why I'll tend to focus on the emotional impact the situation is going to have on the character. It's far more interesting to me to write about what's happening inside his head, rather than just sticking to the outside.

JHerzog01
December 20th, 2008, 10:28 AM
I dont really have a problem with it too much. physical pain seems to handle itself allright (again show dont tell) and mental pain or disillusionment handles itself well. My characters run the story and they pretty much tell me what to right. I never do sexual assult though. sexual assult=no fun to read.

kmtolan
December 21st, 2008, 02:24 PM
To answer your immediate question - I don't flinch. I put you there, sharing the trauma and shock along with the character. I want to show the actual thoughts and feelings because I want my reader to live through this with my character.

I don't get anatomically graphic, however. If I have done my job, I don't need to bury the reader's nose in the gory details. In many cases, the horror is contained in what the reader imagines - which means I have to be careful enough to know when to hand things over to the reader's own imagery.

I can get slightly poetic myself, but only to deal with abstractions when my characters either are beyond coherent thought or have tumbled into unconsciousness. Or madness.

Kerry