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Do you have to show the reaction? : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Do you have to show the reaction?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
James A. Ritchie
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:11 am


elle33
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby elle33 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:02 pm

IMO, grief is a very personal thing. Not everyone reacts the same way, some may wail at the top of their lungs, while others withdraw into themselves. What if her reaction was not to react? Just grab her purse to do what she has to, then grieves privately at a later time?

On a personal note, people typically think I am a strong person, which I am...to a point. When I witnessed my father have a TIA last Labor Day, I broke down and couldn't even drive myself to the hospital. My middle sister, who in all honesty has the least "backbone" of the four of us present, is the one who stepped up and took charge. People don't react stereo-typically. I think I'd show it, but do it in a way the reader wouldn't expect.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:55 am


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robjvargas
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby robjvargas » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:01 pm

I'm going to blatantly ignore some of the people talk, and think strictly about the story.

The author knows the character more than anyone else, no matter what we might think of that character as readers. So the author knows best how that character will react to the news.

So... the question, as I read it, is should the author actually show that response?

The answer is yes. And no.

See, the story sets this, not some "rule" spoken by other writers. And the the story should tell you the "proper" way to tell this. If you tell this directly, you can have a dramatic moment that shows how much the deceased meant to the woman (or didn't). But not showing, doing a scene break and coming back only as the police car pulls up to the morgue, and the woman has tear tracks on her face, that could be mourning, sadness, anger, happiness, even some combination. And the story can proceed accordingly.

There isn't a right answer here. Just the answer that the story demands.
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The_Mad_Ink3r
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby The_Mad_Ink3r » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:48 pm


Mike1950
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby Mike1950 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:53 pm

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TerryRodgers
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Re: Do you have to show the reaction?

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:36 pm

Since I write suspense, I end a lot of my chapters on what could be considered a cliffhanger. I then dive right into the reaction on the next chapter. All of my chapters have the name of the POV character in the first sentence. If there's a cliffhanger in the preceding chapter, then I don't go into exposition. I only start a chapter with some exposition if I've changed POV.

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