We all know this word. We have all been slapped in the face with it at least once in our lives. If nothing else, the last 3 years have introduced us to this feeling ten-fold. Moments of despair are not places we willingly wish to revisit – even for our work. This section is all about you preparing to revisit and revise these dark places.
Let’s gird our loins and prepare ourselves for what’s to come. Coffee is needed…asap. Come on. Grab your favorite cuppa and meet me around the glorious pot. I have French vanilla, coffee shop, dark roast, caramel, and sin full to choose from. Pick your poison and let’s get a move on. Grab a nibble from the cabinet and meet me out on the reading rug. Find your copy of Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood. Take a deep breath and turn to page 47.
It’s time to sit in the dark for a moment. You cannot create a (fictional) flesh and blood character without feelings. The example given in the book is being homeless. Chances are you are not in this situation, but you have, at some point felt as if the world was against you. Take those feelings and view it through the eyes of a homeless teen. Dark, I know but that is where you need to go.
I have fallen face first into the dark a few times in my life, so revisiting is a short trip. Hard to relive those moments but they are a win fall when I need to put a character in that mindset. I can take conversations I have had with my therapist and write the scene with the rage and tears I felt during those talks.
**Yes, I am in therapy, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is not a sign of weakness. It takes strength to take care of yourself. **
How do you show the despair in your character? You must show their moments of joy, so you have something to compare it too. Here’s my example to work with, picture a man standing on the sidewalk outside a house. Inside is his ex-wife with her new husband. He sees her laughing and dancing around the living room with the new man. How does the man on the sidewalk feel? Maybe he sees himself dancing with her in their living room a few years back. He begins to revisit the happy times and then is shaken back to reality by what is playing out in front of him. He then revisits the moment their marriage fell apart. The despair comes. Showing the joy of their past makes the despair real. Palpable.
Remember to show not tell. Don’t lean on weak words like – “…I’m done. I have reached my end. I’m over it.” This is straight up telling not showing and not telling it well. You can do better. I know you can. This is the ‘end of their rope’ cliché. Stay away from the cliché black hole.
I admit, after writing some of my darker scenes I need some self-care. Hot shower, face mask, foot soak, scented candles, binging Bridgerton – those kind of things.
- Go back to the ex who was standing on the sidewalk example. Flesh it out. Write a page where you build on the joyous and the dark side of the emotional spectrum. Deepen the despair based on the level of joy from his past.
- Pick a holiday, any one that is important to you. Write a scene that shows the contrast between a happy, happy, joy, joy gathering and one that is missing all the happy.
- Write despair with humor. What? I know it sounds weird, but you can do it. When I was a teen, my cousin died in a motorcycle accident. How is this funny? Well, a bunch of us gathered at his funeral, school friends and other cousins, and we told stories about him. The crazy things he would do, and we would laugh. Despair and humor.
You can do it. It won’t be fun, but it can be done. Afterwards, breathe. Light that scented candle. Run a hot bath and turn on a streaming channel. Self-love.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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Universal Code for O-B*tch-uary: https://books2read.com/u/bOZe8o
Universal Code for Sin Full: http://books2read.com/u/m2Vdqd
Author Page: amazon.com/author/nellawarrent