HOW TO WRITE A STARVING SCENE – WRITE THAT SCENE

HOW TO WRITE A STARVING SCENE

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Warning: Read the following scene with caution. It is only meant for fictional stories. Thanks!

Part One

  1. Decide whether the character is starving themselves or is being starved.

»A. Layout the scene so the reader knows who is in full control of this scene. The individual or an outside source.

Note: It isn’t necessary to add this early on but it is helpful to give your scene directions and also your readers.

I. Has the character desired to starve themselves either to lose weight or for a social cause they are standing up to? This would place them in full control of this scene. They decided their fate, whether to continue down the path or (most likely) die of starvation.

Although, when one starves themselves, their body metabolizes much slower. They lose weight slower than they would by eating healthily and exercising.
  
II. It can also be an outside source. Such as a dictator, the government, a parent, or a civilization. Other contributors can be environment, accidents such as explosions that destroy crops and/or depending on the main food source, animals dying off from unknown reasons.
  
 

»B. State what factors come into light. Elaborate.

I. Does the character want to starve themselves based on a mental condition, beauty standards in their surroundings, a cause. If so, what is that cause or reason and elaborate on it. Has it been years since the government started the war and civilians has had enough? Therefore they come together as one to stop the madness? Or something as simple as having a crush who doesn’t like them back and the character feels the only way to get them is by losing weight.

This part can be written either through dialogue or internal dialogue. You can also show through the character’s actions or environment the reason. For example, if they are doing it to lose weight, write about how there are numerous “Stay in Shape” magazines on the character’s desk. Write about how they run a mile or two ever day. How they squeeze their stomach in the mirror.

If it is for a social statement, go on about how the character attends meetings pertaining to the cause. How they refuse to do certain legal or social things that are expected of them. Write about how everyone views them in a good light or bad one. What has their decision to starve themselves made of them?

For environmental reasons and reasons beyond your character or anyone else for that matter, describe how the character tries to plant a seed but it doesn’t grow. How the crops are dried up or the animals are dying off from lack of nutrients.
  
 

II. How is your character improving their situation or how does he/she BELIEVE they are improving it by being starved? Do they feel more confident? How about determination and rallying up their fellow neighbors to join them against a social cause? In other words, how has their demeanor changed since stopped eating food?

For a character that is being held hostage, they may beg for food or go to extreme lengths and refuse to eat anything their captors give them as a way to make a statement.
  
 

**

Part Two

    1. What is their substitution? It doesn’t have to be food.

»A. When someone starves something in needs to substituted whether positive or negative, you decide.

I. For prisoners and things out of there control, is the character eating anything they can get their hands on? This can include vulgar items that I will not go into detail about but you can use your imagination :-). Usually when someone is desperate they would resort to unheard of actions.
  
II. When your character is starving themselves, they do not want to eat. They may pick up a different habit. Drinking a lot of coffee, biting their nails, feeling very anxious. The will resort to eating ice cubes like candy in order to trick their body. Think of a substitute your character would use based on how desperate they are.
  
 

 

»B. In what manner does the character demonstrate they are content in their choice to their loved ones and people who question their motives. Do they show strength or weakness?

I. Depending on the circumstance and the personality of your character(s), they will show one or the other. Sometimes both. A character who is doing it for a political or social statement will most likely avoid showing weakness or regret for their choice. They wouldn’t want someone judging them more than they already are being judged. They want to show that they will not quit until they see change. Showing strength through starvation could be something like denying food if offered, throwing food away in front of peers, continuing protest or daily activities as if nothing changed but secretly crying to oneself about the lack of nutrients.
  
II. If it is someone who is captured or environmental, the character(s) will have no reason to hide their weakness because they are hoping that someone can help them. Showing weakness with starving could be throwing up and revealing on water being inside their body, falling down, unable to stand or walk, headaches, personality changes, skin changes, crying, etc.

They wouldn’t even be able to sleep. All they can think of is food and the intense pain in their stomach. They’ll become dizzy and lightheaded as the blood sugar levels start to plummet and they become sluggish since your body will use most of your glycogen stores before it starts to rely on other sources.
  

**

Part Three

    1. Talk now about relapse. Temptation. Struggle.

»A. The human body is a very useful tool and strong, however it can only take so much.

I. Mind over matter is key. There are people who can get through almost anything. In real life, a Buddhist once protest by setting himself on fire. He died without ever yelling out or making a move. So it is possible for your character to get through starvation without complaining but keep in mind, they had to have practiced their mental strength such as the Buddhist did for many years.

How, if at all, does your character stay focused. Having no relapse could mean success but behind that power there is a reason. Who keeps him in check? What is motivating her to continue her protest or to lose weight? Whatever it is, remind the reader. And remind the character.
  
II. If mind over matter is impossible for your character, then have them be tempted or make a relapse. They might sneak a few cookies? Eat something they shouldn’t. Though, after starving for so long eating out of no where can make them sick, especially if they eat a lot.

How does this change the course of your story? Does the character feel ashamed and stop eating or do they continue and realize it’s not worth it to continue starving? Usually a relapse is when starvation is the complete control of the character. They are the ones that made the choice to stop eating. It was not taken away from them.
  
III. Are there any consequences to them breathing oath to a pack? Have they failed their group? Are they exiled or shunned? Have they gotten food poising or where sent to the hospital? Maybe there isn’t any consequences and instead, they are rewarded for eating.
  
 

»B. Is anyone intervening? Fed up with the behavior of the character?

I. When someone feels threatened by the character that’s when things get ugly. The government could step in and force feed them. So can a hospital or a loved one who is desperate to save them. This can be through tying them up and forcing tubes down their throat. Or sneaking certain nutrients into their water supply.

When someone is rescued from starvation, they can’t be given normal quantities of food straightaway. The process of bringing them back to a normal diet is known as re-nourishment. If this isn’t done properly, they risk a problem known as re-feeding syndrome.
  
II. Are they arrested for not eating? Sent to a mental hospital? Loved ones may beg for the person to eat. The government will probably try covering up the starvation so it doesn’t go mainstream. The character can be lied to; promised change but never receive it after they begin eating again.
  
 

**

Part Four

    1. State the side effects of starving. There is plenty.

»A. When one doesn’t give the body the natural things it needs such as food and water, it doesn’t matter if the entire world is on their side. Their body will have the ultimate say in the end.

I. Dying is not a joke when it comes to starvation. Will your character die? Almost die and is force fed?

II. Name the vital organs that will slowly but surely fail them. The body doesn’t get everything it needs, for example, no calcium and their nails or hair won’t grow. Their teeth will become more sensitive and bones much weaker without the vitamins.

Dying from starvation is one of the slowest most painful ways you could die, it would take a few weeks to succumb, and when you do it will be because your organs will have failed. In other words, starvation is the body tearing itself apart in the absence of food to try and create some source of fuel.
  
 

III. The hunger urge is one of the most powerful survival instincts. Starvation can result in substantial loses of muscle mass, slowing down the resting metabolic rate. When normal eating habits are returned rapid weight gain is usually the end result.
  

»B. How is their life changing? How does this impact what they are trying to do?

I. If they are kidnapped, how does this change the plans of the captures? Do they now have to start feeding their victim because they want to keep them alive for their own desires? They may be fed moldy bread, rotten meat, thin soups, few fruits or vegetables, & just enough food to keep them alive.
  
 

**

Part Five

    1. What progress has come out of this scene so far, if any?

»A. Show how the character starving has changed something or kept it the same.

I. Has the government decided to quit doing what they were doing? Has the environment improved or shown signs of improving since the beginning of this scene? Has the character lost weight? Did they end up getting their crush? Have the captors got what they wanted?
  
II. If things have changed for the better, decide whether or not the character will continue down the rode of starvation in order to make a bigger statement. Maybe they combined starving with no drinking water. Or re-framing from doing something.

Note: No water= less oxygen intake= hallucinations and uneasiness.

When nothing seems to be working or starving made the situation worse, the character could try asking people to join them. Refusing to eat even longer. Go mainstream with their frustrations.

  
III. Have them reflect back, telling themselves or others whether or not it was worth it. What they could do different next time if there is a next time. How it felt to starve, etc. This can be a simple sentence or two.
  
 

**



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