Monday, November 9, 2009

Dealing with Death - Thinking out Loud

[World Building]

Step 1. Provide the setting with people to provide life and vibrance to the tapestry of the story.
Step 2. Address how those people deal with death.

Everyone has rituals. Write about what you know.

When I see a shooting star I think of my friend, Roxanne Lee. (Rest in Peace)

When I put my hands into the earth I think of my grandfather, Hal Walker. (Rest in Peace)

Tying the infinity of the sky and the simplicity of the earth towards dealing with the same emotion. More than that, it is what interests people... readers. I think about how many police shows, murder mysteries, horror movies... the sheer weight of media in circulation that deals with, warps the idea of, and consults the purpose, of... death. There was never a civilization that wasn't obsessed with it and most tell their stories and show the color of their culture by how they dealt with it. Entire groups of people spending their entire lives preparing for death. In the wake of every sentence I write, literally everything I say will seem like a lie if it isn't absolutely saturated by this grisly concept.

It's like drawing a line from the beginning or birth to the end or death with every story. Genesis -> Terminus

Pondering the weight of every word and how it looks forward to the end while representing the memory of the beginning takes practice, diligence and something else. It takes mental health. So...

A. Skate away from death for the black and unpleasant thing it is.
B. Redefine death by granting it artificial civility... a fresh coat of paint only a work of fiction could grant it.
C. Embrace the concept that all things are finite and give the end some measure of dignity.

I think the choice of A, B, or C will depend largely on what tells the best story. Like a given methodology employed by a culture to deal with death, there may be no right answer.

I suppose...

In that regard... it isn't how people grapple with uncontrollable forces, but the means employed to resolve and accept those same circumstances.


  1. What about:

    D. Everything is infinite but in different form and/or substance. Transformation to a different plane. Gives meaning to the wisdom gained in this temporary existence.

  2. Truth.

    Likely, the infinite can be assumed, taken for granted, as part of the course of beliefs held by fictional peoples. I have little hope of portraying it accurately or addressing it specifically... everyone has their own perception of infinity. It does not bow to any sort of temporal logic in that regard. Necessary... otherwise Faith (as part of a work of Fiction) would be meaningless.

    Making it easy for the audience to suspend their belief, can be unbelievably difficult. Hmm... I like the sound of that.

  3. Death. Seems so foreboding just because we fail to accept it. I love that scene where Hamlet reaches into the grave and raises the skull of his fallen friend . . . along with its memories. "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him . . . a fellow
    of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times . . . Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?" If only we were so comfortable with our inevitable ends. Throw me a bone!