Monday, December 28, 2015

How to Brood

Brooding and writing go hand-in-hand. Of course, being a writer means something different for everyone, but I’ve never known a writer to say, “My job is all about giving my characters the best lives possible and being a forever jolly person!”

Hahahahahahaha. No.

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

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1. Find a Brooding Topic

The 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.

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2. Get in a Bad Mood 

You 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.

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3. Go Over All the Details

Brooding 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!

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4. EXPLODE IN A BALL OF RAGE AND DARKNESS

Model yourself after Sweeney Todd. Because THEY ALL DESERVE TO DIE TELL YOU WHY MRS. LOVETT TELL YOU WHY—

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5. Stop and Write it All Down

No filter. No stopping. Just write it all down.

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6. Turn Back Into a Fluffy Human Bean 

Sure, 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!

How do you brood? 


18 comments :

  1. *narrows eyes* Did you just say human bean? Did Cait @ Paper Fury brainwash you? Do you need help?

    But this post is just the FUNNIEST but it's also so very accurate. Whenever I can't sleep, I just fixate on a particular character and brood for the LONGEST. I always manage until the anger part until I drop off and forget to write it down. Luckily I've adapted over a few years and now I have a pretty good recall of what I thought just before I sleep. Also I sometimes sit with my textbook and pretend to study but I'm actually brooding on various plot points.

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    1. No, actually. I get human bean not from Cait but from Roald Dahl, who often used that phrasing in The BFG, which is a film coming out over the next year, and I am looking forward to seeing it!

      But yeah. I am actually not a brooder so this is kind of a self-help guide, but I'm glad you find it accurate enough. Also, brooding while pretending to study? Golden.

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  2. Oh my goodness... Haha! This post is fabulous! "...but you can’t be Sweeney Todd 24/7 or you will face life problems." That line made me laugh so hard! I've actually never thought about it like that, but brooding DOES go hand in hand with writing, at least part of the time.
    Thanks, Heather!

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    1. XD I enjoyed writing that line. But yes! Happy writers make happy characters, and that is a problem. Thanks to you too, Bailey!

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  3. I love this post!
    I am convinced that's why it's easiest to write when it's raining. Because what else is there to do but brood when it rains?

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    1. Well, I've heard there's board games, but why play when you can brood?

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  4. I couldn't agree more with this post!
    I am probably one of the most brood-iest people when it comes to writing. I'm a little too cruel to my characters. It's worse that I won't just let them die, it's too cliche. While some of my friends say "maybe he has conflict with his parents" or "she's not doing well in school because of bullies", I say "what if he has an eating disorder because of depression caused by physical abuse that almost led to the death of his best friend causing a traumatic event?"
    It strangely satisfies me. Maybe I'm secretly a sadistic person.

    Great post! I loved the way you described brooding (plus those first two paragraphs! Ha!).

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    1. Oh, wow. That's some intense brooding you've got going on! But, of course, character suffering is always for the better in the long run, right?

      Glad you liked the post, Kat!

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  5. This post is the best! Brooding is an important skill to master as a writer :)

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  6. Yep. I spend a lot of time brooding about my stories, but writing it all down without filtering is probably the hardest part of all--I keep wanting to go back and correct myself, which isn't exactly super-conducive to open, honest writing. Great post :)

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    1. Oh, yeah, writing without filter is a skill I feel is necessary in all kinds of writing, but it's hard, no? :P

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  7. Haha! This is the best! I never thought of it as "brooding," but yeah, we do need to "brood" every now and then.

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    1. It's just one of those writers things, eh? XD

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  8. Hahaha, this post is hilarious! And I spend a lot of time brooding about my stories, probably more time than is necessary. Writers definitely need to explode into a ball of rage and darkness.

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    1. Just remember, Victoria, there is never too much brooding!

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  9. This post is pure brilliance. Brooding is such an essential part of a writer's existence. I think this is why I love rainy days so much--it's just a whole lot easier to brood when the world is crying and the air feels heavier and aldkfjsdf. I love rain. And brooding. And your genius blog posts.

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    1. Right? Rain and brooding just go together. Like brownies and breakfast. I should just brood more often, shouldn't I? Thanks for reading, Liz!

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