Er, so, um, this is a bit of an unusual contribution to this thread I think, since it covers a more specific topic commonly botched by newbie writers: Suicidal characters. Naturally this is going under a spoilercut due to sensitive content.
Spoiler:- Suicide Talk:
OK, so as someone who's dealt a lot with suicidal idealizations and has attempted to take his own life more than once, and has channeled his feelings and experiences with it all through his writing as a form of recovery and catharsis, I felt I should give my fellow writers some advice on how to tackle suicidal characters because they're commonly mishandled.
First off, never use this kind of thing for cheap drama. Really, nothing should be used for cheap drama, not even good ol' character death or character cripplement, but for a character contemplating or worse actually taking their own life it must be handled especially carefully and in an appropriate manner. (Rape is in a similar, probably even worse boat.)
Second, well, I should start with the unfortunately common notion that people who commit suicide are weak-willed or idiotic. That is decidedly not true; the whole offing yourself intentionally thing is a lot harder than it sounds in multiple respects and takes a lot of mediation - and in the end, it's still pretty scary. Like, trying to OD myself - I don't know how long I stared at that bowl of pills thinking over wheither the hell it was going to work or not and that there was no going back if it did. Aaand there are the complications of trying to throw myself into traffic or goad cops into shooting me that are significantly harder to put into words.
But what I can put coherently into words is I still damn well wanted death. You generally have to really, really be beaten psychologically into a pulp to ever get to the point where you'd ever want to literally throw your own life away, but once you hit that point it sounds like something merciful. You don't care about the goddamn metaphysical roulette of whether or not you'll end up on a sunny cloud or in a fiery pit or as absolutely nothing at all or anything else, you just want release from the horrible psychological suffering you're feeling every goddamn day.
Why? Because you feel like you're worthless. Your life means nothing, you're a detriment to others in your life, everything that weighs on your psyche is dragging you down and you just want to semi-literally self-destruct.
As you can guess, it's awful. Really awful. A pit you need a lot of genuine support to drag yourself out of. I managed to get it, even when I veered closest to actually doing it with that OD attempt. My friends from another community saved my life there. A lot of people aren't as lucky.
So please, keep all that in mind when writing a suicidal character - and seek the advice of other survivors like me. One particular tool I like is using some allegory for suicide to keep things more subdued - rather than actual death, the character seeks a death-like state to free them from their suffering - I once interpreted a suicidal character once subsumed by their dark side as feeling such.
And that's all. Hopefully that was helpful, if decidedly heavy.
Last edited by Umbramatic; 26th July 2016 at 5:48 PM.
First piece of advice: Keep in mind that some clichés are clichés because everyone uses them for no apparent reason, and some clichés are clichés because they are the Phillips screwdriver in the toolbox of writing. For instance, most of the stories you'll find involve an evil force rising first, and then a hero setting out to defeat it. You won't often read a story where a hero sets off to find an evil force to defeat. There are a few notable examples of the latter, such as Don Quixote, but that kind of story requires a certain type of main character. My point is, don't be afraid to do something that's been done a lot before.
Second piece of advice: Keep in mind that rules are made for breaking. Obviously I'm not talking about grammatical rules; I speak here of the writing guidelines that everyone takes for granted. Telling the story from the main character's POV. Making sure people get character development before someone kills them. Even telling your story from the beginning and going forward in time rather than starting from the end and going backward. Even having a heroic character at all. These are the kind of "screwdriver clichés" that I told you above not to be scared of. So what's my point in contradicting myself? Well, I'm not. I'm just telling you that, while you shouldn't fear the screwdriver, you also shouldn't be afraid of throwing the whole toolbox out the window and trying to build that bookshelf out of origami hats stuck together with toothpaste. It's definitely harder to pull off, but if you can manage it, that's awesome.
Third piece of advice: Do not hastily rewrite your story from first-person to third-person. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
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