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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writing About Death

Writing is a challenge. Writing about death is just plain hard.

As I near the end of my novel-in-progress I must, due to key elements in my story, write about death--not one death but several. I don't want to turn my novel into a sob story, yet I want to accurately depict grief (and to some degree the dying process) differently for each death I describe.

I find myself wondering if other writers, especially well-known authors, have as much difficulty writing about death as I do. Do they rewrite death scenes more times than they do others? How long does it take them to attain that balance of emotions I strive for--one that evokes sympathy without being maudlin?

To me, it's easier to write about an accidental death than one that's prolonged. I liken it to the difference between removing a band-aid in one quick rip VS peeling it off slowly. I'd also rather write about the death of an old person than I would a child. The death of any loved one is a shock; however the shock following an expected death dissipates sooner. Most parents never stop grieving over a child who dies. As Mitch Albom wrote in Tuesdays With Morrie, "Death ends life, not a relationship."

Today I've taken time away from a novel in which several deaths occur to write about writing about death. I don't think this is going to help me finish my novel, so I need to get back to work.

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