How to Write About Grief in a Story or Novel


Writing about happy moments is easier than writing about grief. Writing about grief gets even more challenging in fictional writing. Many writers feel that they have it all figured out with writing about grief in a story or a novel, but there is a lot they do wrong. Putting grief adds a twist to your plot, which is why you need to get it right always. Join us as we take you through how to write about grief in your story or novel like an experienced person in writing business. However, before that, you need to consider what will make the reader tick on reading grief in your plot.

1. Honesty

You need to be real in demonstrating grief. The best way to do it is by pouring out your heart. At least each of us has grieved in their life or has seen someone grief. Therefore, the image of the character shows how the character truthfully did it.    

2. Emotion

You need to cry on the page because that is what people do when they are grieving.  Use your keyboard to rain tears, and your readers will find themselves also weeping. Such emotion is memorable to the reader. If you do a good job, the reader should remember that emotion to the end. A human writer can most certainly do this, but artificial intelligence cannot.  Demonstrate grief in your writing through different sets of emotions. Love, pain, hope, and sorrow are some of the emotions that play out during grief. Use them subtly and make the reader believe. 

3. Vulnerability

Death makes most, if not all, vulnerable. When people lose a loved one, they become weak. Remember that you are the one writing and ask yourself to what extent you are willing to demonstrate a sense of vulnerability truthfully. When you are hurt and feel the pain but are not sure whether to accept that it hurts, you are in your most vulnerable state. If you can do this with your character and make the reader feel the vulnerability, then you have partially succeeded in selling grief to them.

Now that you know what makes the reader at the mention of grief.  Below is how you can write about grief.

1. Make the Reader Care

You may be tempted to capture grief at the early stages of your writing, but let us face it your reader might sail through the grief section without notice. A good example is going to the funeral of a person and relatives you do not know. The truth is that you may go to bed that night, not have felt somber unless you cared. Grief writing takes the same shape.

You need to make your reader care about the character. When they love or care about the character, then you might surprise them with a loss or celebration of life.  However, how do you do this? Acquaint your reader with the character. Let the reader know and connect with their persona. When you are sure the reader cares, break their heart with grief.      

2. Avoid Making the Characters Isolated

One thing that makes people grief is their relationship to one another.  Grief in your writing will only work if the people are connected in some way.  Grief writing is even with a moment of uncertainty. When a character is isolated, a good reader can predict how the plot could end up. Whereas in a real-life situation, when a life is lost, people could want to separate from others, the opposite works best when writing grief in fiction.              

3. Keep Nudging Forward

When your character is grieving, you have the chance to move the story in a different direction than as planned. Do not allow the character to heal; remember the story needs to keep moving and that there is an end to it all. Control the way the character griefs because grief takes long and that it is always an unexpected occurrence.

4. Demonstrate a Transition in Dealing With Grief

Choosing to entrench grief is a long shot. Make the reader travel with the character through the grieving period. Emotions such as anger, denial, shock, fear, guilt, and betrayal are a sign that the character is moving through grief. These emotions also give some pace to your story. If well done, your reader will involuntarily heal together with the character.    

 5. Find an Outlet for Grief

The most common reaction for a grieving person is the fact that they may want to isolate themselves. You do not want the character to lose value. This means that your writing should allow the character to leave grief. An example could be your character develops a new liking or new skill, maybe dancing or swimming, something that sets them on their journey. This new liking or ability should help the character feel better and even get a better understanding of the world through when there is grief. Something about the character needs to change after an instance of death.   

6. Mind the Ending of Grief

Once the character has left a moment of grief, the ending of your story needs to be exhaust grief. The character may not heal, but you need to show an end to it conclusively. Show whether the person agrees to change after the death of someone they cared about and show the strength of character after a loss. Moreover, what is the character's plan after a loss? Finally, whether the character’s need to love or be loved increases.

You have known that the reader needs to see emotion, feel your honesty, and feel the person's vulnerability. Knowing what goes on in the mind of a reader opens you up to writing about grief naturally and gets you the organic reaction you want from them. You only need to make your reader care about the character, avoid Isolating the character, nudge forward by controlling the character’s moment of grief, show a transition in character dealing with grief, leave the moment of grief and satisfactorily end the moment of grief.


About the Author

A writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Besides working as a contributor writer for TrustMyPaper and Studicus, Diana also a part of the editorial team at SupremeDissertations. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.