I am doing an assignment where I have to add my own chapter into a book our class read called Looking For Alaska by John Green. When:

Alaska kills herself,

We don't know what she's feeling when she does it because it's from another person's point of view. I've chosen for my chapter to do it from the point of view of Alaska when she's:

in the car drunk and about to end her life.

I need help creating an emotional first person description of how she's feeling (uncontrollable sadness). Has anyone got any ideas on how I can go about showing this in my writing?


The danger with writing sadness is the ease with which your writing can devolve into cloying melodrama (with the caveat that one reader’s melodrama is sometimes another’s Mona Lisa).

Trigger warning: suicide. If you feel depressed or suicidal, please read no further and seek immediate help.

My recommendation is to look at the final steps a person goes through before committing suicide. The truth is, the final stages aren’t about sadness at all. Sure, they’ve experienced sadness, depression, being nailed to their bed absolutely unable to move, let alone get up, everything sucks, etc.

But in the end, it comes down to hard, cold, calculated logic. There is no other option. They’ve tried all the alternatives, considered every possible solution and its outcome, and the only logical way out that offers definitive salvation from all this pain is… well, to go out.

This is why a person is most at risk once they’ve gotten OVER the sadness. Family members often sigh with relief at this point but this is actually when they should LEAST let their guard down. If the affected person got ”better” without formulating a clear path towards healing, more often than not what they’ve done is come up a plan of action for ending it.

At that point anything else like drinking yourself drunk isn’t an expression of sadness so much as an expression of despair/anger/a combination of everything they may feel. One final FU to life, if you will.

What they think about now is what will happen after they’ve gone: no one will care because they didn’t deserve to live anyway, the people who wronged them will celebrate, their life never amounted to anything and so everything will go on like normal, etc. Pretty rational, logical stuff—at least in that person’s mind.

They may also whisper last goodbyes/final words to a few people who were important to them (including those they hated)—words that oftentimes will never be heard by anyone. You can definitely play with this aspect to evoke emotion in your reader instead of plain describing it.

So I guess this doesn’t answer your exact question, but honestly I think sadness isn’t the right call. And of course you’ll need to be consistent with the existing points of view. I haven’t read the book, but from your question very little is known about this person’s state of mind.


As some of the other users have already replied, I think that Alaska's

last moments at this point

in the book were not necessarily dominated by sadness. Panic, guilt, desperation, maybe, but not simple sadness. Also, if I remember correctly it is left somewhat ambiguous even in the mind of the narrator whether or not Alaska actually

killed herself, or if it was a DUI accident...

...you seem to have decided on the former. Maintaining that ambiguity in the first person would be difficult but not impossible, but would also be fine if your chapter resolved it. I think important keys to focus on in your chapter might be Alaska's emotional thoughts about some of the pieces of her past that have brought her this painful sadness, and loss of others that brought her joy. These thoughts might play well interspersed with glimpses of the twists and turns in her physical surroundings.

She may feel alone on that winding road at night, as alone as navigating the labyrinth. To show how thoroughly sadness/guilt/regret has consumed her, display detachment from the real world -- her driving might be sloppy and things seem to sneak up on her, she grows more and more lost until she comes around a corner and some flashing lights bring her back, and she makes a choice. I think her hands gripping the wheel, tears and sweat sliding down her cheeks, the sweet aroma of the flowers fading as she cries and her nose gets stuffy are examples of good things to show. She might think of her mother/her mother's death -- The flowers in her seat imply she was on her way to deliver them when she crashed, that remembering and honoring her mother was at the forefront of her thoughts when she got in the car. Her Life's Library or whatever it was called -- she probably feels some regret at things left unfinished. Her friends, and also, from that, all those last words. Does she say anything, as she slams her foot on the gas? It might be touching and ironic if her last words were somehow related to Miles/Pudge.

Based on her dialogue and actions during the story, I think that her thoughts, her narration, particularly that to convey unbounded sadness, would be erratic, careening and spotted with moments of clarity through which she recalls the past. She's a very spontaneous, bold character. I'm not sure an emotional description is what's needed here, because she may not be self-aware enough to describe how she's feeling, just feel and do.


Perhaps the act is her last attempt to control the sadness. So, make her try to control it in other ways. She has already tried alcohol. She could try calling someone. She could try praying. She could try meditation, or sleeping, or cutting.

If she is trying a bunch of stuff, and cannot control the sadness, then I think that shows it as uncontrollable.

In terms of showing emotion, use all the normal tricks - Zoom into details that anyone can relate to. She's trying to get the cap off the pill bottle and it won't come off. Her phone battery dies. She's crying so hard it runs down her sinuses and out her nose and down the back of her throat and she's getting puffy which she hates because now she knows she's an ugly cry-er on top of everything else. She vomits (drunk) and it splatters on her purse, the new one, the one she bought because she was trying to cheer herself up.

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