Writing Saturday; Balancing the Sad and Happy.

9:49 AM

Sometimes some of you want write tearjerkers (I don’t know why you would but okay : ), ones that are so sad they make us cry. Sometimes we want to write feel good books, ones when that leave us laughing or just feeling like the world is as is it should be. However, most of the time, at least for me, I want to achieve a balance between the two.

I want my books to leave you feeling good, but for you and my characters to go through hard stuff to get to that happy ending. I want you to feel sad, angry and scared along with my characters but I also what you to be able to feel relief, happiness and joy with them as well. I want there to be intense moments and a lot of tension, but I want to leave my readers feeling satisfied.

So how do we do it? How do we achieve that balance? The answer is; I am still learning. Here are a few things that I have learned, feel free to correct and add to this list.

1. Never kill off any of the good guys or girls in the last three chapters. From a readers perspective, if I am to get that good feeling at the ending, you can’t kill a good guy too close to the end.

2. Temper your intense and very sad scene with humor where it is appropriate. Where humor is unacceptable, it might be good to use and ah-ha moment. You know, a moment when your character reaches a goal, figures out the clue, or grasps a very hard to understand concept.

3. Sometimes there are scenes that just have to be sad, hard and/or intense though and through. To keep those in balance, I like to follow them up with a humors or joyous scene.

4. Book cannot (for the most part) be happy all the way though if they are to be any good. One of the things that I have learned in life and in writing is that sometimes you have to go through the bad or see the evil to appreciate the good.

What about you? How do think we can achieve that balance between happy and sad? I would love to hear your ideas/thoughts even if you aren’t a writer.

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  1. Great post, Sarah! I started my first book a long time ago. To be honest, I didn't give much thought to it. There was a story in my heart, and I was going to write it. But though I didn't know it at first, one of the key messages/themes of my novel ended up being about how to deal with grief.

    I hate depressing books/movies though, so to keep my book from leaning that way, I sprinkled in lots of humor, trying to create a balance like you mentioned. And I think I've done a pretty good job in that aspect... I would say my book is more happy/funny, than sad/depressing.

    One thing I would say though, is to let the story take you where it wants. Just write what's in your heart. If your book is too sad, or not sad enough, you can always edit at the end. I think if I would have told myself this scene couldn't be that sad, or this part needed to be happier, I never would have gotten that messy first draft down :)