Emotions: Writing Grief


Anonymous asked: Hi, I was wondering if you folks had any resources that describe different grieving processes people go through? I think most everyone has heard of the ‘stages’ process (anger, denial, bargaining etc.), but it’d be awesome to have something that goes into greater detail about it, or offers some sort of alternative. :)

The stages of grief are actually pretty standard. There’s really no need to search beyond them for alternative methods of examining grief, though of course you may look into the books in our further reading section for more strategies for understanding and coping with loss.

We, however, are going to focus on the Five Stages of Grief, also known as the Kübler-Ross Model. For the record, these stages are:

  1. Denial. Blankness, shock, numbness, disbelief.
  2. Anger. A sense of betrayal, of abandonment. Maybe blaming oneself, others, or even the deceased for the loss.
  3. Bargaining. Trying to reason away the loss or else buy a respite from it.
  4. Depression. The full weight of the loss. Desolation, heaviness, terrible sadness. 
  5. Acceptance. The loss is a part of the self. Internalization, incorporation, moving on.

This list isn’t meant to represent the proper emotional journey of grief. There is no normal way to grieve. These stages may be of uneven length or create a loop to repeat until there is some epiphany and the sufferer can move past it; some stages may come out of order or not at all. But mostly, this is a pretty decent angle at which to start examining grief.

It’s easy to look at those five stages and think of a list like that as limiting, boring even. Each grieving process will be unique to the character going through it, as will the feelings and actions of the character at each stage. Characters exhibit grief in myriad ways. They are not limited by the most obvious clichés of denial or depression.

  • A gritty, hardened character can beg and sob and be overcome with fear of a life without the object of their grief.
  • A timid character might cope by being the shoulder for others to cry on as they deal with their loss; they may gain closure by affecting strength until they actually feel strong.
  • A sexual character might do exactly as one would expect and lose himself in the arms of another.

And, of course, there is everything in between. Messing with the reader’s expectations for a character’s reaction can yield powerful results. As John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

Here are some assorted tips and observations on writing grief. Do with them what you will, but remember that these are not universal:

  • Strength and weakness are relative terms. The distinction, for instance, between crying as a testament to the strength of a bond between two characters and crying as a method of making others feel sorry for a character’s loss is palpable. Decide for each character what constitutes “strength” and “weakness” and show the reader the difference. Grief is a good time to do this because it is typically a process where a character’s true colors are bound to show themselves eventually, even if they try to hide their suffering or their process is more nuanced than other characters’.
  • Grief can come with nostalgia. A grieving character may look with a kinder eye on memories that include the person they have lost. They might long for those days, focus on them to the detriment of their present and the people in it. They might put the deceased character up on a pedestal, refuse to hear anything negative about them, or decide that their not-so-great experiences with that character were actually better than they’d remembered.
  • Memory loss isn’t uncommon. When a character is first told about the death of another character, he might enter a state of shock. While in this state, the character might be so overcome or so numb that he cannot recall later what he said or did while in that state. He might not even remember that the other character has died. You can read a bit more about this here.
  • Loss makes people uncomfortable. Like, really uncomfortable. When characters who are not grieving or who are grieving to a lesser extent encounter a character who is very much in mourning, they are often afraid to say or do the wrong thing and cause more pain. It is awkward to say the least.
    Characters may not know how to treat a grieving character because that character isn’t behaving as he normally does, whatever that means. When you write about loss, it might be a good idea to write about how other characters perceive the grieving character, how they react to him and speak to him while he is grieving. You could tell the reader a lot about a character’s grief by describing the reactions of the characters around him.
  • Grief can be stifling. It can remove a character from their routine, even make that routine seem pointless, selfish, or absurd. It can stomp on convictions, creativity, and relationships with other characters. Deadlines might be missed. Children may go uncared for. These are usually earmarks of the Depression stage of grief, and this period of apathy or listlessness might be a good way to slow the pace of the narrative you’re writing. It may create an interlude between spikes of action, sort of like the quick breath taken by swimmers before plunging again into the water.
  • Grief isn’t neat. It doesn’t decline over time in a smooth slope. A character doesn’t have to recover from a loss gradually or at all. Grief isn’t something you get over; it’s something you accept. The acceptance of a loss might look more like a seismograph than a bell curve. Keep that in mind as you write. Feelings of grief may surface unexpectedly.
  • How dead is dead? Did the person die right in front of the character or was the character just told of the death? If the character wasn’t present at the death can she take another person’s word for it that it even occurred? If your character could get away with denying the death even happened, would she? For how long?
    The sliding scale of physical proximity to the death of another character could play a huge role in how your character will react to their death. Shock might be a more appropriate first response for witnessing a death, whereas denial is more common if the character is not physically present when the event occurs. Shock and denial tend to blend together after a while, though it’s up to you to figure out the exact measurements. 
  • When was this person supposed to die? Before or after the character in question? A father or grandmother is supposed to die before their daughter or grandson. This dynamic, the dynamic of perceived inevitability, could create subtle differences in the way a character copes with a loss. A character will grieve differently for a child than for a parent. The grieving process could be longer with a child because parents do not expect to witness the sudden death of their child. This dynamic might also be affected by prolonged illness. If a character who has been ill for a long time dies, the grief a character feels over the death will be different. Different how, you ask? Well, that’s up to you.
  • How much death has your character seen? If your character has experienced a lot of death in her life, you can be sure that she will handle grief differently than a character feeling loss for the first time. You can play with desensitization by creating a situation where a particular death was special and triggered a pronounced grieving period. It could be a stranger or a best friend, a lover or an enemy; that death was special, and the character’s grief shows the reader a different side of him. Alternatively, a character who has never grieved before could play into expectations by mourning deeply or freak the reader out with a minimal reaction to death. And everything in between.
  • Rituals can help some people cope with loss and may disgust others. Many people mourning a loss have expressed feelings of comfort and closure connected with carrying out the religious rituals associated with the death of a loved one. Other people find no solace in ceremony and prefer to grieve in their own way. In either case, it’s good to know about these rituals because they tend to encourage behaviors that might be useful to apply to your characters. Check out an overview of some death rituals at these links: Remember, it is best to witness a ritual first-hand before writing it. If you cannot be present at the ritual you wish to write about, at least find someone who has and who is willing to describe it to you in detail. Otherwise, you not only risk misrepresenting the ritual, you may also miss details worth knowing that may be important to your character.
  • The surprising twist is not always stronger than the expected reaction. Sometimes the reader just wants the character to be plain ole sad, to mourn as they mourn the death, to be the cliché. You don’t always have to write the jarring, betcha-didn’t-see-that-coming reactions and emotions for your characters. Sometimes the common sadness, the anger, the fear of the unknown that humans tend to feel in response to a death is enough. There’s something to be said for tapping into the universally-acknowledged emotions people feel as they grieve. Again, how to interpret this advice and when to use it is solely your decision.

There is obviously a lot more we could say on grief, both in coping with loss and in writing it, but that ought to get you started.

Here are some links to further online reading:

And here are some book lists on this subject:

Thank you for your question! If you have anything to add or any further questions, please hit up our ask box!



Exercise 26 Results: Shading Gems Step by Step by ConceptCookie
There is even a link on the deviantArt page for the brushes to use too!


Exercise 26 Results: Shading Gems Step by Step by ConceptCookie

There is even a link on the deviantArt page for the brushes to use too!





The latest generator, the random demon maker! Complete with horns, wings, and (mostly) unappealing personality traits, you can make your own demon in varying degrees of non-human-ness.  

(Fun fact you can technically get my headcanon for demon!Dean on Supernatural [but that’s probably like a one in a million chance])

Skin: Grey
Markings: Spell Circles
Horns: Ibex Horns * W *
Eyes: Scarred shut… owww :<
Wings: None… o comeon |D
Tail: Skeletal HMMMMM
Powers: Mind Control
Personality: Aphathetic

Skin: Dark purple
Markings: Stripes
Horns: Reindeer antlers
Eyes: Covered / Blindfolded
Wings: Shadow
Tail: Wolf
Powers: Mind Control
Personality: Creepy 

Skin: Scarred/burned
Markings: Spell circles
Horns: Ibex horns
Eyes: Covered/blindfolded
Wings: Bat
Tail: Skeletal
Powers: Necromancy
Personality: Apathetic



DISCLAIMER: I was going to make this “how to draw archery”, but that would probably have taken the rest of my life. This is all stuff I’ve learned from practicing archery in the past, and the tips I’ve given should translate to many, if not all styles of archery. If you take issue with any of the information given here please contact me, as I’m aware I’m not an expert!

Okay, I’ve seen too many bad drawings of archery online. Most of the time I can overlook it, but I’ve made this guide to address drawings where a) the character would hurt/maim themselves if they shot like that, or b) if you tried to shoot like that, the arrow would just make a sad trajectory to the ground, the aerodynamic equivalent of a “WAH-WAH” on a trumpet.

With this in mind:


If successful archery is about one thing, it is about consistency - being able to make your body take exactly the same stance over and over and over again. Your body is a key part of the weapon, and just as you wouldn’t want a gun that had components that wobbled and shifted, you don’t want your body to.

With this in mind, characters shooting, particularly at full draw (this is when the arm pulling the string is stretched all the way back), should have the arm that is holding the bow straight. Not locked - I’ll get into that - but straight. A straight arm is easy to replicate - a bent arm could be at a different angle each time. Simple as that.




See this diagram


the dotted line is the path the string will take. The string is extremely tight - it has to be for the bow to work. It will therefore move extremely fast. Do you want any part of your body to be in the way of that.


if you have any part of your body (elbows and breasts/pectoral muscles tend to be the worst offenders) in the line of the string, they will get hit. And this will hurt. A LOT. Google “archery bruise” to see how. Yikes. Furthermore, if your arm or chest gets in the way, it’ll knock the arrow off course, and in addition to having sliced your nipple off you’ll have missed your shot too. So KEEP STUFF OUT OF THE PATH OF THE STRING.

side note: this is where the myth of amazons chopping their boobs off came from. Also, why archers sometimes wear chest-guards - this looks like a one-cupped unisex bra. Stylish. Also why archers often wear protective gear called a bracer. This goes on the tender inside of the arm and wrist that might get clipped by the string, not the outside that is nowhere near it.



Okay I keep seeing this


Having the fingers clasping the arrow like this makes it highly likely that the pressure from them will send the arrow off-course.

Many modern bows have an arrow rest so you needn’t rest the arrow on your hand at all. If that isn’t the case, it works better to rest the arrow on the first knuckle of the index finger (where it meets the hand). If it’s just being used as a platform, the finger shouldn’t be able to exert enough pressure to make the shot go all over the place. Also you won’t end up shredding your fingers with the fletchings.


Talking of that…


remember what I said earlier about how incredibly taut bowstrings are

imagine pulling that back with your soft fleshy fingers

it is basically like cheesewire through…soft fleshy fingers.

Use protection. Illustrated below are the tab and archery glove, or just go to google or something, stop the madness.



A strung bow is taut. The body of the bow is pulled by the (very tight) string, making a D shape. An unstrung bow will be straighter.

The tension in the string means a string should always be a straight line. If the bow is drawn, it’s two straight lines. 



If there is any curve in the string, the arrow will probably fall limply to the floor.

ALSO. When the string is drawn back, it exerts more pressure on the bow, creating that really exaggerated curve. This is where the power comes from. (I think. I am not physics). Basically, if you’re drawing a character at full draw, the string should be straight and the bow should be curved. If the opposite is true something very wrong has happened and you should be sad.


OKAY! I hope this has been helpful, if you have any questions or concerns let me know. And if in doubt, doctor google will help you - look at olympic or professional archers, and see how they’re standing and how their bows behave.



there are characters you love, and then there are characters you would perform demonic blood rituals for if it would somehow make them real






this movie is so fucking creepy jesus fuck

It’s by Tim Burton, what did you honestly expect?

Actually, it’s Henry Selick, who was the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The book was written by Neil Gaiman, though, and is far…far….worse.

Sorry, I’m about to geek the hell out.

The movie is captivating, but the book is twenty kinds of terrifying, even now, ten years after I first read it. As disturbing as the movie may have been to some, the things Selick added really serve to cushion just how horrific the story really is.

First of all, the character of Wybie does not exist in the book. Coraline is facing all of this nearly alone, with her only help coming from the sly comments of the cat, a warning from the circus mice, and the stone given to her by her neighbor, presented with no comment but that it “makes the unseen seen.”

Second, the Other Parents are never quite as warm (and, dare I say, normal) as they are in the gifs above. They’re described as having paper-white skin and the Other Mother’s hair is said to move on its own, and her long, red, claw-like nails don’t ease any uncertainty that she is absolutely, positively up to no good. The first time Coraline meets them, they (and the rest of the Others) seem to be playing roles (for whatever reason, Coraline does not seem to pick up on this), like they all know what to say and what to do and are simply waiting for Coraline to make her move in their terrifying play world. This is shown to be partly true when the Other Parents tell her they know she’ll be back soon after she refuses the buttons - this time, to stay.

Third, the Other Mother commits atrocities that really should not have been in a book for anyone not fully grown up. She physically deforms the world around Coraline to slow her progress in their game beyond any mild traps the movie portrays, and, instead of turning the Other Father into the wandering pumpkin-thing seen in the film, she simply ceases to use him and throws his body away in the cellar, leaving him to rot with whatever bit of sentience he has left. She begins to lose her touch, as Coraline gains the upper hand. Her world doesn’t just become a nightmare - it falls apart completely. No creepy but oddly cool bug furniture here, just the house that now appears to be a child’s drawing. Whatever the Other Mother is (a beldame, but something tells me she’s much more ancient and powerful than that), she does not give half a hump about what she has to do to ensnare Coraline. Destroy the supporting characters of her twisted creation? Done. Allow herself to be dismembered to ruin Coraline’s life in the normal world? Not even gonna bat an eyelash.

On a final, personal note, imagine eight year-old me, ignored by my parents, absorbed in the story and identifying with Coraline from the start. Imagine me finishing this bloodcurdling book and immediately thinking of my basement, where there is still a locked door that my grandmother swears up and down is nothing more than a storage room, but has not once in my (or my mother’s) lifetime unlocked.

Can you see why this book still scares me?

well shit man