The scarlet king is an ancient deity intent on crossing into our reality from a second dimension. This demon will be born to a human bride, hiding itself within the soul of the human child until it is ready to take the body for itself. An organization known as the SCP foundation has contained this child and uses it to battle paranormal activity. They place a seal on the child to keep the demon locked away permanently. However, through the secret actions of a cult, the child escapes the facility and sets out to live a normal life.

The seal placed on the individual can only be broken through acts causing extreme physical, physiological and emotional stress, ie, suffering. However, this seal is a complex lock that requires multiple steps to be broken. This character was born specifically for the purpose of suffering, which must be spread out over long time periods, occuring cyclically. The person must feel the ebb and flow of happiness followed by pain, experiencing the highest points of happiness and satisfaction, followed by devastating loss. The cult takes an active role in his life behind the scenes, influencing events around him. Ex. Settles down with a wife and children, but ends with them being brutally murdered in front of him, only for it to happen again years later with a new family. The devastation from multiple tragedies would ultimately break him, allowing the demon to break it's seal and take control.

Tragedy is meant as a form of self development, in which the character has a bad occurrence , goes through changes and grows because of the experience. However, having things happen one after another would seem like the actions of a malicious author simply trying to provoke sympathy by creating edgyness. This devolves into torture porn and gets tiresome and unrealistic. How can you use multiple tragedies without overusing it?

4 Answers 4


There is nothing like practicing moderation and judgment. That being said, the question for a tragic character is whether he recognizes his error or not. After you have elected the case you must decide the distance the route can go. In one way, for example, should the character not recognize his error, then what does it profit to add further misfortune when the reader knows and the author has made manifest that the character is incorrigible? What value does it add?

If you would like to go into detail about such ideas, there is a convenient little book with all sorts of notes on the matter that has existed for millennia. I am speaking of course of Aristotle’s Poetics. I recommend it for tragedy, and it has been touted the good book for tragedians by—I can’t remember their names—many an author.


There is no cut and dried answer. Some writers can't pull it off at all. Others can put their characters through the wringer without becoming tiresome and unrealistic.

Reading tragic works with an analytic eye helps. Then there is no substitute for practice and advice from beta readers.


As I write this response, know that I am basing this on the book Tallstar's Revenge.

A form of tragedy is a loved one dying. This is the type I will be focusing on with this response. A way to make a character grow with this is to have them go on a long and winding journey for revenge, just to realize, at the very end, it isn't right. But they came too close. Whatever they were going to do to kill them, it happens, and now they must try to save whoever they were trying to get revenge on. In the end, they realize that revenge is not important. Instead, forgiveness and love are what is really important.

If this is not the type of tragedy you are looking for, ignore this answer. If it's a suitable plot, be sure to change it up a little bit because I basically just described Tallstar's Revenge.

The growth is where if they go through that again, they will know better. They will be able to say, "This is a hard time, but I can get through it. Tragedy is part of life, and a hard part, but in time, the happiness will outweigh the sadness. Revenge doesn't get me anywhere, so why bother with it? I can just embrace the sadness and let it make me a better person for when it happens again - even though I hope it does not."

Good luck with your story!!!


Life is like that in general. Tragedy, and especially, our response to it is what shapes us as people more than anything else. There are three general outcomes - with lots of intermixing and gray areas in between. We appreciate the human condition and become compassionate. We become numb and block it all out as much as possible. Or, we become bitter and take out our frustrations on ourselves and on everyone we interact with.

Except for young children in good families, we all experience all of these facets, so we can both identify with a character going through such experiences and also have pretty acute feelings/judgements about whether the experiences and responses of the character are plausible/real.

The challenges must not be so great that no one would believe that someone could survive them and, if the character continues on in the face of adversity, we must understand their sources of strength and the support they get from others.

Even if events unfold quickly, the effects of those events develop and linger for a very long time - possibly for an entire life, if they are not processed and resolved/reconciled. We need to see the fallout of this as the story progresses.

If the character recovers somewhat, we need to see how that was possible. We need to see how their current state affects the next events in the story.

This can vary from a deep psychological/emotional study to more superficial coverage that is mostly to move the story along, but it has to fit with the underlying truth of who the character is and who they are becoming. If you take shortcuts, almost everyone will notice and be displeased.

If your story forms an organic whole and is believable, people will go there with you and appreciate it a lot. They will not be bored or disappointed. The danger is that if events and the character's responses to them do not seem reasonable, then readers may get angry with you and lose their connection to the story. Unlike life, fiction has to make sense to the reader (to paraphrase Mark Twain.)

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