Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Study on Tragedy in Modern Literature and Drama

A few years ago, I did a shout out across the interwebs about modern novel tragedies. My latest (and still latest) project was going to be unique. I'd been reading young adult novels in an effort to understand the dynamics involved compared to the middle grade I'd been writing before and realized that mine would be unique simply because almost all YA had the hero's journey as its plot arc.

Mine flipped it on its head in the form of a tragedy.

At that time, I did some research, but I was caught up in the fervor of free writing the draft, my favorite part.

Now I'm in the trenches of my least favorite part.... editing.

And I was at a stand still until recently, when I watched this very helpful video on Youtube by lfrankers. Not sure exactly what she said that I'd never heard before, but between watching this and looking at a list of tragic movies in the last two decades, I understood this on a whole new level:

In Tradegies, the purpose of the character has to be stronger than the outcome, even death.


Some movie examples:

Man on Fire: The protagonist purpose is to save the girl he's supposed to protect. He trades himself for her, and dies to save her.

Blood Diamond: Leo D sets out to become famous, but ends up dying in order to save his partner so that his partner can save his own family.

Gladiator: Maximus wants to avenge his family. He battles and destroys all those involved, even though it means he dies at the end.

And we all remember the Titantic.

Some more recent literary examples:

We Were Liars: The entire time, the main character is trying to fix her family. Slowly, though the reader realizes something isn't right. Eventually, we learn that the protagonist has gone insane after the tragedy of the fire in which her and her cousins were trying to fix the family.

Of Scars and Stardust: Older sister acts as detective to find the wolf that killed her sister. As she finds more clues, she falls deeper into insanity. By the end of the book, you realize the truth is she was insane all along and she killed her sister. She's put back into an asylum.

What does this mean for my editing?

It means I'm excited because I finally figured out two very important things that will guide how I rewrite Rudger's Story.

1. His motive: To be a leader that unites the two races of his world.

2. He'll have to get there at the expense of his character, losing someone close to him, and losing his sanity.

In order to accomplish this, I'll need to up the tension of his guilt as he makes bad decisions, up the animosity with the current leaders that don't treat the other race well, and Rudger will also need more pressure from his family.

This also means my beginning needs a complete overhaul. But I already knew that!

Please comment and tell me a recent tragic novel you've read, or what you've learned during some of your own editing. I'd love to hear from you and I will write back!

Or CLICK HERE to Tweet:

"What @egmoorewriter learned while #amediting + recent tragic reads. join the discussion! Pls RT! #amwriting #tragedies."

1 comment:

  1. It's not exactly recent but The Time Traveler's Wife is a great one. I think Ender's Game is another good example. Maybe they are both more bittersweet than tragic?

    As for my editing I'm learning that I am absurdly verbose! I'm on the last 1/3 of my current draft of my novel and I'm already way over the appropriate word count.

    Your story sounds intriguing! Best of luck with it!