Kinds of solitude
Often a good way to start thinking about a piece of writing is to think about a situation. So we think about situations in which solitude occurs. What can happen that puts a person into a solitary situation.
· Something has happened, perhaps the ending of a relationship, the loss of a friend. So here the solitude is enforced. This solitude may be desired, partly because no-one else can share it and when they try it makes you feel more alone. Secondly because, through the solitude some sort of healing can happen
· Related to this may be some sort of life crises where you feel you need to get away, ‘retreat’ and think, get away from something to do with work, family, just the stress of a nine-to five city life.
· The solitude may be forced upon you. You may be imprisoned, literally or metaphorically, or you may be ostracised for some (to them) unacceptable behaviour . As you child you find for some reason the other kids don’t want you in their games. All your other friends have got boy/girl friends but you haven’t because shy or ugly. Or you may prefer your imaginary friend.
· You may suffer from a feeling of loneliness even though are very popular, huge fun to have at the party, very attractive. Somehow that ‘you’ they all admire is not really you at all.
Obviously it’s not enough for the character or narrative to complain at length about how solitary he/she is. It needs to be ‘shown’. How?
· Dialogue in which other people misunderstand, especially at an emotional level.
· Showing how you (or the main character) are in the role of onlooker, outsider.
· Describing things which a solitary person would notice, as a busy one might not. The sensitive or artistic person as the loner.
· Describing the setting in which loneliness is implicit – the prison cell, the bachelor room, the bare seashore and the gulls
· But the way the you or the main character carry on a personal ‘conversation with yourself’ as if this is the normal thing. Asking yourself questions and answering them
Fantasising: the imaginary friend, God, the long-dead parent who’s still listening, you feel.
a loner who’s presented wholly from the comments and thoughts of other people – perhaps until the very end when something is revealed.
The loner could be an eccentric, someone with an illness like Alzheimer’s, someone who’s unable to speak, or refuses to speak, suddenly won’t see anybody.
Or he/she’s become a prophet.
Or a celebrity