Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death and storytelling

Posting the new workshop. WARNING: this one isn't easy.  Death never is.

Death and storytelling; using the seven stages of grief

Often the most dramatic scenes come out of some of the most painful emotions. Dealing with the death of a character is just as hard on the author as it is on the reader.

Depending on which model you're using, there are either five or seven stages of grief a person goes through when dealing with death. As you write scenes where a death is discovered, remember the steps and incorporate them into your characters. Below are the steps for both models.

The five stages of grief (Kubler-Ross)
1.    Denial: The initial stage: "It can't be happening."
2.    Anger: "Why me? It's not fair."
3.    Bargaining: "Just let me live to see my children graduate."
4.    Depression: "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"
5.    Acceptance: "It's going to be OK."

The seven stages of grief: (unnamed model)
1) Shock or disbelief (numbness, struggle to understand)
2) Denial
3) Bargaining
4) Guilt (what did I do to cause this? 0r "I feel bad because I didn't like him anyway.")
5) Anger
6) Depression
7) Acceptance/hope.

"In addition to the emotional pain already discussed, symptoms of grief can be physical, social, or religious in nature."

Keep in mind, these stages work with other major changes or shifts in life as well. Understanding the psychology of real-life humans helps to create honest and real characters we can all relate to.


Write (or rewrite) a scene where your protagonist goes through several of the stages of grief (either model). If you’re willing, post your scene in the comments to share.


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