From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Death

A really interesting analysis of some classic novels turns up an interesting result. As morbid as it sounds, death is the most common theme, the subject the selected novels have in common over any other.

I think there may be something to be said for this. Part of the purpose of art is figuring out what we're doing here, what we even are, where our value lies. That means thinking about not only where we "go" after we die, but if our lives have purpose or value beyond that point and if so, how do we do the most with the life we have. All this is to say, part of the human experience is wrestling with the concept of Death.

Great books can help us do that.

This also extends beyond just physical death, I think. Think of Holden Caulfield. To a certain extent we are worried for his physical life, worried he might even kill himself at some points. But beyond that, even if his body continues to live, one could say that he's on the verge of suicide of the soul. A sort of emotional death.

In that sense, one could say that all the books we write, all the struggles our characters are facing, should be life or death. Maybe its actual, physical death, maybe its the death of a dream or a belief or an idol. Thinking of it that way may help get the tension we're looking for.

What do you think? Does this apply to your favorite book?

Sarah Allen
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11 comments:

  1. death is the ultimate ending here--of course i believe in heaven---great thoughtful subject sarah!

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  2. Death features a lot in my writing. I don't know why but seems like the right kind of closure. Although most of the time the death is a tragedy, sometimes I think it's the happy ending the character deserves. Well, okay, I think that about one of my stories - but no one seems to agree with me!

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  3. It's a hard topic to ignore, and when it comes to setting the stakes, nothing beats it.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  4. Human beings would always be fascinated with death, at least until that day when science (or something just as quantifiable) enables us to prove/disprove the existence of the afterlife.

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  5. Interesting. One of my favorite books is the Lovely Bones, and that is most definatley about death and the after life. It is quite a fascinating topic.

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  6. My writing has a lot of death involved. Sometimes it's at the forefront and sometimes it's not. Death is something we all have in common, or will have in common should I say.

    I'm not surprised that it's so prevalent. I like the idea of making every story life or death, even if it's not physically the case.

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  7. Death does add drama whether its the death of a person, idea or hope.... good point.

    Hope you have a chance to check out my A to Z on agriculture. It's at http://janiceperson.com

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  8. Sarah, come read my D post for another perspective...it might cause you to read a book though :)

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  9. guess cause that is the only constant in life!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

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  10. Death is stepping through a door, entering another room. It is a moment, altho a big one.

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  11. Death is one of the easier things to write about that will emotionally connect with an audience. Everyone of us will eventually face this ending. Everyone of us will be touched by it at some point in our lives when a friend or family member dies.

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