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Heartbreak


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Heartbreak

Let me start off by saying that I have definitely been through it more times than I can count...and it never ts any easier for me to take. In fact, if anything...it has gotten much much worse over the years, now that I’ve matured a lot more and really have a deeper meaning of what love is and what it could be if only I could get the damn thing to work. Hehehe! Sad but true.

I’ve always been a romantic. I work hard to give all that I have to give, and if my partner ever decides they need some space, I can give that too. I don’t mind giving someone my support, putting aside any pride or ego to admit when I was wrong, and enjoy being with someone that I truly care about. I’ve grown past the whole school boy crush phase of my life, so when I actually come right out and say, “I love you”...I don’t do it on a whim. I really do mean it. My heart is so big that I have more than enough to share with someone who’s willing to share their hearts with me in return. So...for me...heartbreak hurts. Oh God, does it hurt. And there are two or three people out there who really tore me up inside...to the point where it was hard for me to keep from crying in public. But...if it wasn’t meant to be, then it wasn’t meant to be. And I still love them. Say the word, and I’ll still come out to help you whenever it’s in my power to do so. It’s who I am. Heartbreak or not, I wouldn’t want to be ‘less’ of myself for the sake of a grudge or mixed feelings. You know what I mean?

That being said, I’ve definitely written my fair share of heartbreak in my stories over the years. Almost from the very beginning. I’ve shared a lot of those feelings with my readers and dug into those old wounds over and over again to bring my audience the most genuine experience that I possibly could, even when it hurt me sooooo much to do so. If you’re looking to really explore the depths and the pain that comes with the heartache your characters are going through in your stories...then you might really have to explore a lot of those dark feelings that still dwell within yourselves. And that’s not always a comfortable position to put yourself in, believe me. BUT...done well, with as much raw emotion as you can muster up to bring those old pains up to the surface and put them on display for others to experience with you...it might do more than just add another powerful level of drama and feeling to your plot...but it might actually be a very therapeutic exercise for you as a writer, and bring you a sense of closure that you may never get for the situations that you’ve moved on from and put behind you.

Getting your heart broken HURTS! But if you can soothe some of that inner conflict with the words you type out on a screen and turn it into something positive? Isn’t that worth it? You be the judge

Today, we’re talking about writing heartbreak. Let’s get into it.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and randomly assume that everybody reading this has experienced some level of heartbreak in their lifetimes. Some worse than others. If you haven’t...thank the stars every single day for that blessing. Because it is NOT fun! Hehehe! The thing about tackling heartbreak in a story between your characters...there almost always seems to be a certain feeling of injustice included in the text. An unfairness. Sure, you can write a story where both characters simply aren’t right for one another, fight all the time, or just don’t have anything in common...so they break up. And if that’s the narrative that you’re going for, then awesome. You can use your words to tell that story, and the break up might actually come off as a sigh of relief for your audience. However...we’re not talking about a ‘break up’ here. We’re talking about heartbreak. There’s a difference.

When it comes to heartbreak, it often comes with a lot of entangled emotions and complex habits and expectations attached. But that is where the richness of the emotion really shines through. As I’ve said before in the past, one of the most effective tools that you can use to get readers to care and empathize with your main characters is the injustice of it all. Someone dealing with a problem or an obstacle that they didn’t ask for and don’t deserve. The idea of writing heartbreak taps into that feeling in a major way, and it highlights the kind of aches and pains that many readers can easily relate to.

The very first concept that I think writers should keep in mind when attempting to add a level of potency to a heartbreaking situation in their fiction is the fact that it should have a smaller, but identical, structure to your story as a whole. This is how I always picture it in my head, anyway. An entire story has an introduction, and build up, a climax, and an aftermath, that will lead your audience from the beginning to the end. Now, while a heartbreak may only be a small part of your story, I’ve learned that it works best if that section of the narrative follows the same four part journey. If you have two characters that are involved in a romantic relationship, and you’re planning to have a heartbreak at some point between them...that’s how you put it together. You begin with an introduction of an issue or problem. Naturally, they may start off being all happy and goofy and seeing the world through rose colored glasses...and maintaining that joy and connection for a decent amount of time will make the heartbreak that much worse when it finally takes place. What’s the problem? Maybe one boy is out of the closet and the other isn’t...and it causes a conflict with how they interact with one another in public. Or maybe one of the boys is a huge flirt, and it’s just a normal part of his personality, even if it creates anxiety and insecurity to their partner. There are many differences that seem like such little things when the love is brand new and the sex is great. But...once the novelty wears off, as it inevitably will in all relationships, dealing with those problems and red flags that were introduced earlier on becomes a necessity if both parties plan to stay together and both be happy. Right? So, be subtle with your introduction of a potential problem, and then let it guide you towards the break up that you have planned for later. Gradual. Slow and steady. Break ups don’t usually come out of nowhere. They start with a few overlooked issues and grow from there.

Next comes the build up. Little insignificant issues become more and more frequent, and may lead to a discussion between both parties. It’s like someone kicking the back of your seat in a movie theater or an airplane. You can bite your tongue and keep the peace for a while….but how long would you be able to deal with the frustration of it happening again and again before you start to lose your mind? If it were me, this is when I might throw in a few disagreements, and maybe an argument or two, into my story as the main characters attempt to address and ultimate fix the problem. Unfortunately, for a lot of people...fixing a problem doesn’t mean, “Hey, let’s find an equal compromise here.” Instead, it ends up being more like, “I hate when you do that! So knock it off and never do it again, and then we can be happy.” Well, that’s not really a compromise now is it? Hehehe! Adding this bit of escalation to your story will set off alarms for your readers, but if they believe in these two and their ability to make things work out for the best...denial will allow them to keep reading along as though it’s just a random spat between two loving hearts who are well on their way towards finding a civil solution to it all.

Basically...you still have the element of surprise on your side at this point. :P

Then...you have a climax. Whether it b a climax for the entire story, or just for this one particular relationship, this is when all of the stress factors hit a boiling point...words are exchanged...feelings get hurt...and then a break up occurs. Heartbreak. This is where an author’s focus should be the heaviest. This is the sucker punch. Adrenaline levels rise, tears begin to flow, secrets get revealed, people say things they don’t mean, defenses go up...this is the grand finale of the fireworks show right here. So make it something spectacular. Don’t drag it out for too long, just have your characters say what they have to say and really go at one another’s flaws, pushing all the wrong buttons, until somebody finally has the courage to be the first to say that it’s OVER! That will be your ‘surprise’ moment, which is why I said you shouldn’t let it drag on for too long. That’s what the ‘build up’ phase is for. If you want that impactful moment of shock, anger, or sadness, to really take over...minimize the major conflict a little bit. JUST a bit. When the moment comes, have it just kick into high gear and have the heartbreak happen rather suddenly, which will rapidly change the mood and tone of your entire story in the blink of an eye. I’ve written stories where I look back and I think that the big break up moment went on for too long before it was actually presented for what it was. I think I weakened the pacing and potency by doing that. But, you know...live and learn. :P

This, of course, brings us to the last part of the equation...and that is the aftermath. I really feel as though this should be an important part of adding a serious heartbreak to your story, and it all depends on your characters, how they should react to such a situation, and how it affects the other characters around them. I almost always write in the first person, and this is when I really take the time to get inside the heads of my protagonist. There’s a soreness there. A dull ache that lingers for quite a while, and I make sure that it affects everything and everyone around them...depending on how they choose to deal with it. Now, I know that I told you to draw from the memories of your own personal heartbreaks and it can really hurt to rip those wounds open again. Especially if it was a particularly painful time for you and you just wanted to leave those feelings dead and buried deep down so you wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. But one thing you don’t want to channel into your story is the idea that “It was all their fault! They were assholes! And I’m doing so much better without them now!” I mean, trust me...I get the anger and the bitterness left behind, and maybe you can add that to your character’s inner thoughts as a way for them to deal with what’s going on. But after years of doing this, I’ve learned that it really doesn’t make for the most believable of story dramas. There’s no growth. No character arc. No evolution. You take a majority of the complex emotion that you spent so much time and effort building up from the very beginning, and you toss it out the window for the simple idea that “I’m the good guy...he’s the bad guy...so I win! Nah nah!” Which isn’t how heartbreak ever worked for me. There’s a long process to go through. The self doubt and abuse. The agony and torment of feeling it was so unfair how I was treated. The denial and hope that we’ll just work it out and get back together. The good old rebound revenge plot where we expect to screw the hottest, richest, celebrity guy EVER, just to make them jealous and teach them a lesson. Hehehe, everybody treats heartbreak differently...but we all go through an actual process, just the same. The emotions are yours, but keep them attached to your fictional characters and their coping mechanisms so you don’t end up ripping those old wounds of yours open even wider and turn your story into an angry rant when that wasn’t what you originally intended. It’s easy to get pulled into that quicksand, so you have to write this with a certain level of detachment if you plan to stay on task.

The aftermath phase of writing heartbreak into your fiction is what you use to shine a light on how important the relationship was to your protagonist to begin with. If it’s a two week fling in a high school drama class...maybe the pain of it doesn’t linger for that long. It matters, but having the protagonist find a way to dull the pain and move on keeps the impact small and focused around that one series of moments. However, if we’re talking a post college relationship where two guys move into the same apartment together and one of them is caught cheating with another person...well that’s going to really suck, and it’s going to torture your main character for a long time to come. How you treat the aftermath should be somewhat equal to how you treated the relationship itself. The more invested someone is in the good times, the more it hurts when it’s over. Try to find a way to balance it out, and make it as believable as you can for your readers to stay engaged with it all.

There are countless variations on this idea. Play around and see which ones most directly connects to your own experiences with love and heartbreak. Some people can fall in online and have never met, some might decide they’re soul mates and go looking for a house together, furniture and all. Some people might be heartbroken over a total stranger that they have a huge crush on and end up seeing them with someone else, even if they’ve never spoken before. And others are just plain oil and water whenever they’re together and can’t help but to be toxic to each other no matter how hard they try to make it work. Whatever it is that you want to write, go ahead and give it a shot...but always remind yourself that it’s fiction, and you’re creating this heartbreak for your characters and not just recreating it for yourselves. Balance out the joy and the pain in a way where one side matches the other. Nobody’s going to brush off a five year long relationship as though it doesn’t matter now and never did. In the same respect, nobody’s going to go out on one or two dates and totally freak out like some kind of psycho if their date decides that he’s not really into him. There are a million combinations for you to play with, but keeping certain core essentials in mind will help to guide you when you go rummaging through those old bothersome feelings and try to write them out for others to read. Cool?

Of course, as always, I hope this all makes some sense. I could go on and on about heartbreak for days on end and never even scratch the surface as far as my poor heart is concerned! Hehehe! But this will just have to do for now!

If you want to read any of my stories where I poured my soul into the fiction during a rather nasty heartbreak, feel free to check out “Save Or Sacrifice”, “Never Again”, “Just Out Of Reach”, and you’ll probably see a bunch of examples in different stories or series here and there. Can’t help it! Hehehe, I write what I feel! But I’ve learned how to treat my stories as more than just a place to let off steam. The story comes first. That’s what is most important to me.

Take care, you guys! And I’ll seezya soon!

 

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