Writing Structuring Loss Arc

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W's Lapdog
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So at the start of my story I already dropped a guaranteed death flag for one of my characters. One who hasn't been introduced yet, at least.

Well, even if this character's death is already confirmed to happen at some point in the story, I still at least want to induce sadness into the reader.

Typically you'd write an arc about this character. That's the problem though. I'm not well versed in loss so I need help.

Here's a cookie as thanks 🍪
 

Blacklotus2004

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I would suggest bringing the character to the story, and letting him/her have some arcs with your MC.
I mean you can't expect readers to feel sad about a character that they don't even know about right?
Let them have a unique personality, and a nostalgia inducing backstory that lets readers be able to connect their own lives with.
Let the readers feel that they share some similar life or thoughts with the character.
 

Leficios

W's Lapdog
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I would suggest bringing the character to the story, and letting him/her have some arcs with your MC.
I mean you can't expect readers to feel sad about a character that they don't even know about right?
Let them have a unique personality, and a nostalgia inducing backstory that lets readers be able to connect their own lives with.
Let the readers feel that they share some similar life or thoughts with the character.
I- already said that...

I was asking how to write these arcs 🤧
 

LostLibrarian

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Honestly, I would go the completely opposite way: don't care about the readers' reaction at all.
Instead, concentrate on the reaction of your MC and the other characters'.

If you want to make it sad, concentrate on creating bonds between the characters and the "soon to be"-dead. Make them memorable, helpful, or just fun to be around. Furthermore, you could also add more details to the situation that make the death sad (which mostly comes down to either a sacrifice or an unnecessary death).


But yeah, concentrate on what that death will change in your other characters. Especially the MC who is the stand-in for the reader. Who will be left behind, what will your MC think (sadness, anger, self-reproach), how will they learn to accept it? If you get these things right, the chance is high that the readers will also find parts in there that make them sad, because they can see themselves in there.

It's really hard to make readers cry because "character xy" just died. Especially in webnovels. A lot of readers will invest even less times to read due to the overwhelming amount of stories they read. And it gets worse, if you only have a limited amount of time to work with and the character wasn't there for a hundred chapters. But each reader also brings their own experiences, memories, and fears/feelings to a story. And to target that can be a lot more impactful.


If you look at the "sad deaths in anime", most of them are minor characters. Some of them with only a few minutes of screentime. What makes them work isn't "I loved XY so much I'm sad now", but "Fuck. It must be horrible to stand beside a grave".

"The little girl is crying at her father's grave because she doesn't understand what death is" often hits harder than the actual loss itself. It mirrors the "what if"-thoughts or fears (or maybe even experiences) of the readers. The really specific idea of "seeing your brother die" often hits harder than "XY won't appear in the anime anymore".

Therefore: don't focus on the reader.
Focus on the little girl, crying because daddy won't come home anymore...
 

Leficios

W's Lapdog
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May 31, 2021
Messages
693
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Honestly, I would go the completely opposite way: don't care about the readers' reaction at all.
Instead, concentrate on the reaction of your MC and the other characters'.

If you want to make it sad, concentrate on creating bonds between the characters and the "soon to be"-dead. Make them memorable, helpful, or just fun to be around. Furthermore, you could also add more details to the situation that make the death sad (which mostly comes down to either a sacrifice or an unnecessary death).


But yeah, concentrate on what that death will change in your other characters. Especially the MC who is the stand-in for the reader. Who will be left behind, what will your MC think (sadness, anger, self-reproach), how will they learn to accept it? If you get these things right, the chance is high that the readers will also find parts in there that make them sad, because they can see themselves in there.

It's really hard to make readers cry because "character xy" just died. Especially in webnovels. A lot of readers will invest even less times to read due to the overwhelming amount of stories they read. And it gets worse, if you only have a limited amount of time to work with and the character wasn't there for a hundred chapters. But each reader also brings their own experiences, memories, and fears/feelings to a story. And to target that can be a lot more impactful.


If you look at the "sad deaths in anime", most of them are minor characters. Some of them with only a few minutes of screentime. What makes them work isn't "I loved XY so much I'm sad now", but "Fuck. It must be horrible to stand beside a grave".

"The little girl is crying at her father's grave because she doesn't understand what death is" often hits harder than the actual loss itself. It mirrors the "what if"-thoughts or fears (or maybe even experiences) of the readers. The really specific idea of "seeing your brother die" often hits harder than "XY won't appear in the anime anymore".

Therefore: don't focus on the reader.
Focus on the little girl, crying because daddy won't come home anymore...
I see... I see!
 

kiplet

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Don't put them through an arc: think of the arc you'd put them through if they were to live, the relationship(s) they'd have and the moments that would come, write as if that's going to happen, foreshadow their story-to-come as you usually would, make a promise to your readers, and then use the character's death to brutally break that promise.
 

Dewux

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Not really an arc, but it's some sort of guide.

First of all, the character who will die (I'll call him DC for dying character) must have some intimacy (doesnt have to be romantically; it can be sibling bond) with your MC. The readers doesnt necessarily have to connect with DC, but they MUST know that DC will affect MC if he were to die.

How about after the death of DC? NEVER skip on the MC's emotions; let their grief, sorrow, and rage flow freely and it must be felt by the readers (even though the readers themselves may not care for DC, they at least know that the MC does, so the death of DC still impacted them through the MC).

DONT DO A TIMESKIP without letting the MC's emotion flow completely. Why? Well, imagine that you threw a ball high up in the air, and you look away for a few seconds, then looking back, you see the ball resting on the ground. How dat happened, right? Well, obviously it reached its maximum height and went down, but we don't know how high up it goes and how it falls down; all we see is that the ball is going up and it's suddenly on the ground. It destroys the immersion. The readers want to see how high up the ball goes (in this case, the emotions of the MC) and when it starts to go down (the MC is healing); and when it starts to descend, you can now either do a timeskip or show how the MC is healing.

For the (character?) arc itself, I have no idea who you want to create an arc for. For the MC, after the death of DC, you could simply show how his death has affected him whether it's done emotionally or mentally, and how he heals and move on. For DC, like I said, you don't need your readers to know the ins and outs of him, it's already enough that the MC cares about DC; and I don't recommend creating an arc for a character whose role will end up with him dying, as it's a waste really, but if you still want to, you shouldn't still create an arc but instead create a DC that readers can empathize with; this can be done by giving them a tragic backstory or goal.
 
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Leficios

W's Lapdog
Joined
May 31, 2021
Messages
693
Points
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Not really an arc, but it's some sort of guide.

First of all, the character who will die (I'll call him DC for dying character) must have some intimacy (doesnt have to be romantically; it can be sibling bond) with your MC. The readers doesnt necessarily have to connect with DC, but they MUST know that DC will affect MC if he were to die.

How about after the death of DC? NEVER skip on the MC's emotions; let their grief, sorrow, and rage flow freely and it must be felt by the readers (even though the readers themselves may not care for DC, they at least know that the MC does, so the death of DC still impacted them through the MC).

DONT DO A TIMESKIP without letting the MC's emotion flow completely. Why? Well, imagine that you threw a ball high up in the air, and you look away for a few seconds, and the ball is resting on the ground. How dat happened, right? Well, obviously it reached its maximum height and went down, but we don't know how high up it goes and how it falls down; all we see is that the ball is going up and it's suddenly on the ground. It destroys the immersion. The readers want to see how high up the ball goes (in this case, the emotions of the MC) and when it starts to go down (the MC is healing); and when it starts to descend, you can now either do a timeskip or show how the MC is healing.

For the (character?) arc itself, I have no idea who you want to create an arc for. For the MC, after the death of DC, you could simply show how his death has affected him whether it's done emotionally or mentally, and how he heals and move on. For DC, like I said, you don't need your readers to know the ins and outs of him, it's already enough that the MC cares about DC; and I don't recommend creating an arc for a character whose role will end up with him dying, as it's a waste really, but if you still want to, you shouldn't still create an arc but instead create a DC that readers can empathize with; this can be done by giving them a tragic backstory or goal.
Huh. That's interesting. Thanks a lot
 
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