Any tips on writing a sad and depressing scene?
Generally, the best approach with this type of scenes is one where you can engage the reader in the scene and make them feel something about it. In order to do this, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Call to the readers’ senses. When you use words, sentences, phrases, that call to your readers’ senses, you are making them feel closer to the action - sometimes even inside the action. Mention sounds, scents, textures… Anything that can make your reader feel like they could be in the scene works.
- Use strong words. When you’re writing a sad scene, you might not want to write long and elaborate phrases that could be replaced with one strong word that can make the reader feel something. If there is one strong, concise way of saying something - use it. One word, if well used, can often carry more meaning than a long string of those. If there is one word that correctly depicts the feeling you want to convey, go ahead and use it. Obviously, there will be times when long phrases will work better, and if you ever think that’s the case, don’t feel obligated to replace it with a single word. It’s all about the emotional baggage it can carry.
- Display your characters’ body language. Show how your characters are reacting to what’s happening through their body language. Stating that one character is sad doesn’t make the readers feel as much as showing them how that sadness if affecting him. Watch how people behave when they are feeling what you want your character to be feeling and try to describe what, in their physical appearance, is altered. For instance, when someone is angry, they’re likely to clench their fists, press their lips together until only a fine line is visible…. Don’t feel the need to mention what your character is feeling. Rather, show your reader what they are feeling.
- Let your readers feel. You don’t need to force your readers to feel things. You don’t need to have a heavy emotional load in your description or your story in general. When you put characters the reader is fond of through disastrous circumstances, they’re likely to feel things. Therefore, when you’re writing a sad scene, focus on what is happening, why it’s happening, what the possible outcome will be, so the readers can have some room to feel. It’s not our job, our writers, to force feelings down their throats. It’s our job, as writers, to make them feel something just by the events that take place in our stories.
Most of all, focus on giving your readers an accurate description of what’s going on, on getting them into the scene, and on letting them feel what they want to feel without pressuring them into the feelings you want them to have. The anatomy of a sad scene is never black-or-white, so you just have to do what serves your purpose better. Good luck!