Question: Do you feel it is a point in a narrative's favour that the potency of the emotional devastation caused by a major loss (the most obvious example being a character's death) leaves you completely numb to everything that happens thereafter? - Anonymous
No, but kinda if you’re feeling charitable.
If you want to intentionally cause massive emotional devastation, it’s not exactly hard. There are literary recipes for that kind of thing, even. It can happen (semi-) unintentionally too. But either way, pathos is a tool in a writer’s toolbox and people respond to it differently. A moment that totally wrecks someone might not move another person at all. Is that a point in the narrative’s favour? A point against the narrative? The first person’s favour? What if the first person was a super cynical asshole and the story still made him cry? Great success? What if the author wanted a later event be more impactful but it isn’t to someone because of this? A point against? There are too many variables to give a universal answer, it’ll always depend more on who is reading than what they are reading.
So, my bottom line is that if you set out to write a story with the goal of building up and then executing a tearjerker, and pull it off so that it works as intended, there’s merit to it for sure. Maybe at its most basic form it’s not the hardest thing, but doing it properly is more than what a whole lot of writers can do.
Of course “emotional potency” can be considered a very desirable thing, and many people do so. If you bake your entire narrative around this goal you get something our scene calls nakige, or crying games. The fact there’s a term like “crying games” belies a phenomenon: there are these feelsnauts who specifically look for that exquisite moment of catharsis when their waifu du jour dies of plot cancer while they reach for the tissues with shaking hands. They are our equivalent of horror movie junkies who seek a different kind of thrill, and often get it from jumpscares (which really are the cheapest trick in the book). It’s a VN term because this is one of the best mediums ever invented for eliciting an emotional response. We can attack multiple senses and the medium works well for reader self-insertion AND the reader can progress at their own pace through the experience. The only better thing would be if the readers were provided with a small bottle of cherry blossom scented perfume to lightly mist their faces with and a life-like hug pillow to squeeze during the climactic moments. Maybe then we could finally truly feel something.