part of the painting “The last days of Messolonghi” by François-Émile de Lansac
First things first- Happy Holidays everyone!
In all types of creative writing and artwork, and definitely in webcomics we always talk about the ultimate stakes in the game- death. Death is absolute and irreversible (except when it’s not).
But there’s far more to what might happen than simply death.
Sometimes death is a release.
A release from a fate that is worse than death.
What does it take to set up such a thing? Unlike death that has pretty much the same consequences for everyone (i.e. we die), what makes a fate worse than death varies from person to person and character to character.
So what would be a good rule of thumb for it? In my opinion, a fate worse than death would be one that the character would willingly kill him/herself to avoid. There are several examples of that in history. For women, it usually involved rape. For men, unusually cruel and prolonged torture.
But is it only that?
For some, a fate worse than death is to watch your family suffer without you being able to help/provide for them. For others, it is being unable to engage in some sort of activity.
Still others might feel it is losing control of your own body, going crazy, losing yourself, and a wide range of other kinds of loss.
I think that to build to such a situation takes more storytelling time and skill in many occasions (without implying that it’s easy to set up a death so that it matters to the audience), because it requires to make the stakes for it as engaging and terrifying to the audience as to the character him/herself while we're also making the character important to the audience in general.
We need them to not only root for the character and care for him, but also realize why the stakes at hand are so high or so terrible for that character that death would seem an easier thing to deal with.
Personally I find it fascinating as a concept.
In Without Moonlight I’m only just beginning to step into that territory, and still I am not quite sure if in the end, I will have set up my game just right.
What about you? Have you ever entertained such a plot? What would be a fate worse than death for your comics’ characters?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Dec. 24, 2016
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