I learn something new with pretty much every novel I’ve ever written.
Usually that has to do specifically with the writing process, and more specifically with novels. But sometimes I get lucky and learn or realize something that can enhance any storyline, long or short.
Topic: The Five Stages of “Grief”
More correctly, these should be called The Five Stages of Emotional Upheaval. It seems they don’t pertain only to grief.
Most of my stories have a decidedly psychological bent. I love getting deep into the characters’ heads, good guys and bad guys alike. I like to experience their motivations and their emotions.
Usually I explore those emotions through dream sequences or soulful conversations with trusted other characters.
But those are isolated blocks of text. Bam. A dream (or nightmare) sequence (and what it reveals about the character). Bam. A conversation (and what it reveals about the character).
But in the current WIP, one of my characters went farther than that.
A young woman is feeling a bit overwhelmed. Like you might be “a bit overwhelmed” by water if you stood in the path of a tsunami.
Of course, I’m writing off into the dark. But during that process, I suddenly realized the character was progressing through what has always been called “the five stages of grief.”
Only she wasn’t grieving. She had recently shared a brief time, professionally, in an office environment, with a young man.
She never gave any of the others with whom she interacted professionally a second thought. But she couldn’t seem to get this guy off her mind.
Still, their paths were permanently divergent. Of that she and he were both certain.
So when she heard from a third party that the young man had named her as the beneficiary of his life insurance, the news came as a complete shock.
To be sure, she was overjoyed to think he might have the same feelings for her as those she continued to struggle against for him, but due to their individual situations, she still expected never to see him again.
So as she considered that, she progressed through the same five stages people typically go through when they lose someone close to them: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventual acceptance.
And upon acceptance — since the source of her discomfort is still alive — she has to contact him. If nothing else, just to ask “What the hell?” (grin)
So there you have it. The five stages of “grief” are also the five stages of any other major emotional upheaval. Use it.
Of course, you won’t mention “five stages.” You’ll just let the reader hear and see the character progressing through them.
Dean’s Chapter Two: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/chapter-two-writing-a-novel-in-five-days-while-traveling/).
Also see his 1/10/17 Daily… Some pictures (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/11017-daily-some-pictures/).
Today, and Writing
Rolled out late at 3:45. Same routine with coffee, email, Dean’s site etc.
I started on the novel around 7, cycling back first to take care of a problem that had been nagging the back of my mind. Finally I sliced off the end of a chapter (about 700 words) and nailed it to the front of a later chapter where it made more sense. (grin)
Then I turned on the novel in earnest, knocking out around 1100 words in an hour.
Around 9 I went down to the house and put in a load of laundry. Then I came back up here (Adobe Hovel) and had another, longer session of about 1500 words.
Another trip to the house to put the wash in the dryer and start another load. Then back here to write everything above this.
Back to the novel around 12:30. Another really good session by 2. I’m gonna call it for the day.
Fiction Words: 3834
Nonfiction Words: 620 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4454
Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)
Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Total fiction words for the month……… 25017
Total fiction words for the year………… 25017
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6630
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 6630
Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 31647