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  1. #1
    Nichole Blackfinch
    Guest

    Help with writing a grief scene

    My MC's best friend was murdered and the MC (she's 18) is sorting through the dead friend's clothes. It's very painful for her, but I am having a hard time really showing it. This is my first book so I'd appreciate any suggestions on this bit:


    Angie’s father had asked me to gather her clothes. He said she’d have wanted me to have them, and this was probably true, but it didn’t dull the hurt of seeing outfit after outfit heaped on the bed or numb the ache of hollow memories of the times she’d worn each. Her clothes were bigger than mine, and bolder, and seemed to overtake the room in their vividness. Skirts and jeans and box upon box of impossible shoes. All those sublime and ridiculous shoes. Even in death, her presence eclipsed my own.

    I wondered if I was destined to live in the husks of the departed. I’d grown up in the shadow of my dad’s absence, inherited the shell of my grandma’s life, and now, here were all these shoes, somehow more intense and terrible than any of the other leavings.



  2. #2
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    Get specific with one or two items. SHOW (don't Tell) the MC picking up and stroking a tee-shirt, a shoe, whatever and recall how the dead girl had worn the item to the prom or a girl's night out or whatever. Remember to keep it in the MC's POV, how <u>she</u> felt, what <u>she</u> said, as well as something the dead girl said or did they shows the latter's personality.

    Best,
    Janice

  3. #3
    Cindy Kay
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    Nichole,

    Janice gave great advice. You're writing here is great with the broad strokes, just needs a showing or two sandwiched in there. Perhaps she even puts one of these bold pieces on, slips into the shell for some of these thoughts. Don't forget how people's clothes smell.

  4. #4
    Page Turner
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    Nichole, I humbly disagree with Janice and Cindy. I think what you have written adequately describes the relationship the narrator had with the MC. To go further into a specific description of any particular piece of clothing would be to overstate what has already been established. I've read with relish, these people's advice on telling and showing, but have to respond with my gut feeling to your piece as a reader.
    What caught me were these sentences: "Skirts and jeans and box upon box of impossible shoes." and " All those sublime and ridiculous shoes."
    These both seem fragmental. Each of these sentences needs a functioning verb, or they could be co-joined, eg.
    I unpacked box upon box of skirts and jeans, and impossible shoes; those sublime and ridiculous shoes.
    Whadayarekon?

  5. #5
    Nichole Blackfinch
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    Thank you. I think I'll add a smell detail, since my MC notices smells a lot.

    I keep thinking I'm done with this book, but then I find something that could improve and so on and so forth. At this rate, I'll be part of the geriatric set before I dare to query, but I keep telling myself it's good practice

  6. #6
    Busy Lizzy
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    You could add more grief and regret by depicting memories attatched to certain articles of clothes.

    For example, making her pick up a skirt and remembering when they were somewhere together and the friend was wearing the skirt. How did she look? What comments did the MC make about the skirt?

    Or recall how the friends went shopping together and the deceased friend bought some gross shoes although the MC told her not to, because they were so ugly.

    Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    nancy drew
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    "Skirts and jeans and box upon box of impossible shoes." and " All those sublime and ridiculous shoes."

    And yet, I liked these fragments, Nichole.

    At this rate, I'll be part of the geriatric set before I dare to query

    Me too, Nichole.

    People keep asking me when I'll be done writing my book. All I can say is, "When it's good."

  8. #8
    Laura M
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    I like the fragments as well. They seem to fit with the MC's fragmented thoughts in grief. Overall, I just really liked the paragraph - the understated sense of mourning works well for me. Another detail or two can't hurt though, I wouldn't think

  9. #9
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    Page,

    My suggestions to give us specifics that SHOWED us the dead girl were meant to take the place of some of Nichole's TELLING. They weren't meant to be piled on top of what's already there.

    As to sentence structure, I agree with Steven King's take on the usefulness of crafting fragments in fiction, instead of grammatically complete sentences. Somebody (Gary Kessler?) posted about this recently but I don't think he gave the page number. I had to read a few chapters to find it but enjoyed the reread and the frequent smiles King's thoughts sparked. Thanks, Gary.

    I hope this excerpt is short enough to not violate the fair use law.

    King wrote in ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft (page 133 & 134 of hardback edition):

    "It is possible to overuse the well-turned fragment (and Kellerman sometimes does), but frags can also work beautifully to streamline narration, create clear images, and create tension as well as to vary the prose-line. A series of grammatically proper sentences can stiffen that line, make it less pliable. Purists hate to hear that and will deny it to their dying breath, but it's true. Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn't grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story ... to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all."

    In Nichole's excerpt above, I'd keep the sentence fragments. They deliver.

    Best,
    Janice

  10. #10
    Laura M
    Guest

    Re: Help with writing a grief scene

    I dunno... I'm old and don't know all the newfangled words... and I've never finished anything, much less published anything... but as a reader, the paragraph doesn't strike me as an info dump. It's first person and represents the MCs thoughts and expresses her emotions in her own words. Does that really count as showing and not telling? Are we being shown the dead girl or the living one's grief for her friend?

    Maybe, having grown up reading a lot that doesn't follow the newer tenets (and continuing to reread the ancient things in my library) I just don't feel the need for complete immersion and continual action that seems to go along with the current trend. It's a very short piece. I'm sure if it went on like that throughout a novel, I would feel distanced from the character, but some distancing for grief seems appropriate to me (probably just me), and rather more realistic than over-blown emotional scenes. I believe those are the kinds of things I would think, in a similar situation. I might just be a cold fish though.

    Don't get me wrong, I do rather like the new (to me) minimalism I'm discovering here in the world of professional authors. And it seems like a perfectly predictable movement - what with short attention spans and necessity of reading online - this trend to less, rather than more. To paring down to basics. To immediacy in action and only fundamental depictions. And to fragments. The novel I'm currently reading (_Finch_ by Jeff Vandermeer) is full of one-word sentences and only the barest of descriptions. King might think it was overuse. But it works beautifully for the story being told and I'm enjoying it a lot. And trying to absorb, as with the artistic version of the same movement, exactly how much one can strip away and have the reader/viewer still see the whole. It's fun and fascinating (and I suck at it. I'm verbose.)

    But a bit confusing at times. I like the paragraph as it stands. I might feel differently if I were more experienced or if I could view it in situ.

    (And how come sometimes posts don't post here? I'm getting better at copying to the clipboard before I try though.)

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