Bewitching Angst: How to Perfect Fictional Tragedies

by | Aug 3, 2023 | writing tips | 0 comments

Photo by Joanne Francis on Unsplash

There’s a beguiling allure to fictional tragedies, stories that make readers cry and yearn for salvation as much as the characters they’re reading.

When people read for entertainment, why do some favor fictional tragedies that break their hearts?

Ironically, it has been researched and found that tearjerkers make people more interested and, in some instances, happier. There’s a unique and confusing sense of solace that comes with sad stories. It’s one of the many inexplicable connections forged between the mind and literature.

A primary reason for this seemingly illogical and paradoxical conclusion revolves around people’s self-pondering and introspection. When presented with these fictional tragedies, people can’t help but relate them to their personal experiences. The sadness these materials convey brings attention to the positive aspects people often overlook. It gives them a newer, more optimistic perspective, allowing them to appreciate better what they have.

When Melancholy Hits Better Than Happiness

Beyond these psychological benefits, people often favor these bitter stories because of their plotlines.

Some people simply have a taste for bitterness than sweetness.

They’re complicated, sorrowful, desolate; they’re every possibly negative description readers can think of. But above all, they’re authentic and realistic. Sure, fictional tragedies are another level of misfortune that, fortunately, not everyone can relate to. But the characters’ sadness and desperation can resonate with anyone who’s been through tough times.

Fictional tragedies allow them to connect deeper with these characters and the storylines.

The Maestro by Rea excellently seizes the heartbreak and anguish that moves readers despite its lack of relatability to the public’s experiences. The story follows Gabriella, a woman with a rope and due closely chasing behind her. Charged with a wrongful accusation of her best friend’s murder, Gabriella navigates around a life she would have never seen coming, a life as grief-stricken offender.

Readers wouldn’t relate to Melissa Rea’s character, given her situation. Not everyone has been accused of murder; not everyone would have tried to enjoy their remaining freedom after. However, readers can empathize with Gabriella’s determination to clear her name. The fight to clear her name wouldn’t be something people relate to, but the desperation for justice can be a universal experience.

Her story banks on people’s shared empathy toward the wrongly accused and judged. It taps into the character’s suffering and desperation to connect emotionally with the readers.

How Can Authors Create Moving Fictional Tragedies?

When authors promise angst and anguish in their books, readers will naturally expect the worst situation. Under these genres, the sadder and more agonizing the story is, the more likely people will stay and finish the journey. However, authors can’t simply rain down unconditional misery on their characters; such situations can’t engage the readers’ empathy.

Grey areas still separate excellently crafted fictional tragedies and an overly dramatic and underwhelming angst-dumped story. A massive part of flawlessly writing these stories depends on the authors’ ability to tap into and maximize their emotions and incorporate this into their dark stories.

There are three main factors to consider in writing fictional tragedies: the character, plot, and, yes, the author’s emotions.

The Character’s Grievances

Although it’s been established that readers enjoy reading more misery in their stories, these situations must still be believable. There’s nothing worse than reading overly dramatic stories with equally over-dramatic characters. These situations must be well-built for them to hurt and be effective. Fictional tragedies don’t happen in stories simply for the dramatic effect. Instead, they must convey reasons and lessons for the readers to uncover and consume.

Angst in these stories must be specialized and specific to the characters. To hurt the readers, they must hurt what’s valuable and meaningful to the characters.

The Plot’s Overarching Drama

What good use do well-created conflict and inspiring characters offer if the narrative fails to deliver? Imagery is as important as planning the arcs and conflict in writing fictional tragedies. Authors shouldn’t forget to describe the story’s physical, psychological, and emotional aspects as beautifully as possible. How authors narrate their stories plays a part in influencing the readers’ emotions throughout.

The plot must be comprehensive from the character’s past, present, and future to convey the story’s causes and effects completely. These segments must be cleanly bridged and connected.


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