We are here to make our babies suffer. We want them to have chili pepper in their eyes and ribs that break like toothpicks and the stench of death lingering in every nostril. Like, not always… but, you know. Pain is an integral part of writing.
Brooding is but one writerly tool on the path of pain. In the words of Dictionary.com, “to brood” means “to dwell on a subject or to meditate with morbid persistence” (source). It’s good for writers to think about things for an unhealthy amount of time, because plots do not just come together—you have to think about terrible things for a long time to turn them into a good book!
Thus, a quick-and-easy guide to start brooding.
How to Brood
1. Find a Brooding TopicThe suffering you can obsess upon is endless. What are your protagonist’s greatest faults? What is your villain’s tragic backstory? What makes the best friend really tick? What injustices must innocent people face? To ease into it, you might start thinking about your own problems and injustices and go from there.
2. Get in a Bad MoodYou can’t be happy and brood. And you aren’t going to understand other people’s problems if you don’t feel them, too. How does having your parents brutally murdered make you feel? How does having a bully push you around at school make you feel? What is it like to have your nemesis enemy take the boy you like and mark him as her own? Focus on that; find your funk.
3. Go Over All the DetailsBrooding isn’t brooding without specifics. What did happen that night your friends beat you up and left you in an alley to die? What was the smell of the river air? What did that corn dog taste like? How did it feel when it was speared into your sinus cavity? Where did that stain on your shirt come from? And, of course, what was it like to look into the eyes of the friends who betrayed you? Let no detail go unturned!
4. EXPLODE IN A BALL OF RAGE AND DARKNESSModel yourself after Sweeney Todd. Because THEY ALL DESERVE TO DIE TELL YOU WHY MRS. LOVETT TELL YOU WHY—
5. Stop and Write it All DownNo filter. No stopping. Just write it all down.
6. Turn Back Into a Fluffy Human BeanSure, it’s hard to let go, but you can’t be Sweeney Todd 24/7 or you will face life problems. Forensic science has improved considerably, and I guarantee someone will notice if you bake folks into pies. Brood, get angry, turn into a black death monster, but then be like, “I want a cookie.” Because, as a wise person I knew in high school once said, “Those who hold grudges live unhappy lives.”
And it’s hard to write while holding a grudge.
That’s how I brood. Of course, brooding is the sort of activity you can learn to do in your own way. Some people like to do it out loud. Other people do it in the depths of some discreet dungeon. Some people want to have a brooding buddy (side note: do not use parents or other responsible adults; they will try to solve your problems instead of wallow in them, ugh). Whatever your brooding style may be, own it and use it!