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Is it wrong....

edited January 2018 in Writing
In my *ahem* "Great American Novel' - currently in progress and in umpteen notebooks and docs on my Mac - I have a funeral scene.

I am going to a family funeral tomorrow. Is it wrong to see it as an opportunity to make mental notes? Music, flowers, different shades of black in one outfit etc.

Am I a bad person for even considering it?


  • You won't be able to stop yourself from making mental notes. We all do it. I'd draw a line at interviewing the mourners.
  • It is family, so I'd get away with it.

    Probably best to leave the Dictaphone in my pocket though.
  • Yes, in the pocket but switched on. That's what I do.
  • Yes. You'll pick up all sorts.

    Don't tell anyone you're doing it though. Lie low.
  • Not six-foot low. Sorry.
  • Try to cry convincingly. Sorry for your loss.
  • It's usually after the funeral, the most interesting talk begins.
  • I find funerals strangely interestingly different each time I go. Sometimes the person is hardly mentioned at all - just how people knew them. The feel is quite different, a sort of numbness when it's a younger (not necessarily young) person, to when it's an old person, when the feel can be quite light.
  • And no, you're not a monster.
  • Doing this rather than thinking about the person you've lost or causing upset to others by obviously taking physical notes or something would be wrong. Paying attention to what's going on around you and recalling it later is fine.

    I'd try to avoid writing about that actual funeral in your book though. That could offend family and friends.

    If you want more info, go to a funeral director's and ask. I did when I needed details for a story and they were very helpful.

  • Honestly we can't help mentally taking notes and using it somewhere later on, as I'm sure we train our brains that way without really thinking about it.

  • I agree with Carol. You'll make mental notes whether you think it's okay or not!
  • You're not a monster... going to a funeral is another life experience... something we all have to do now and again. We need life experiences to be able to create characters, scenarios, understand feelings etc etc all the elements that go to make good fiction. I've always told my creative writing students that I believe fiction comes from somewhere so stash your thoughts, feelings, sights, and sounds. They'll creep into your writing without you knowing.
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