1. Miswrite
    Offline

    Miswrite Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    0

    Creating sadness through your writing.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Miswrite, Apr 7, 2009.

    This thread is directed specifically toward negative emotions, particularly sadness. I've found emotions like happiness, anger, excitement, and jealousy to be easy to reach within my readers. The only one I percieve myself to have trouble with is sadness. So here's the question: What books made you cry, and why? How do you tap into sadness? How do you write so that simple words on a page move someone to tears? I can't grasp the concept.
     
  2. x_raichelle_x
    Offline

    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Hartlepool, UK
    I cry at almost everything I watch - CSI, Cold Case, Dumbo, Pearl Harbour for a few embarressing examples, but crying because of a book is less common.

    One Tuesday Morning was a fantastic book about 9/11 which gave me such a headache from crying so much, & that was mostly because although the storyline was fictional, it was based on such a tragic real life event, & it upset me to think that there really was people in that kind of situation.

    Another big weepy for me was P.S. I Love You, so much so that I don't let myself read it anywhere other than at my house, because each chapter makes me cry haha. That was particularly sad because of the way it was written, it was the parts were Holly pictured Gerry there with her, or the flashbacks to Gerry writing the notes which really got to me.

    I think to be able to make the reader cry takes some talented writing, as the reader has to care about the character & what is making the story so sad. It would have to be a subject which is easily relatable to, and written in a way which draws the reader in & makes them feel like they are connected to the situation.

    Good luck with this, I think it'll be tricky but totally worth it if you manage :)
    xxx
     
  3. Nobody Important
    Offline

    Nobody Important Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    One way is to create a character that everyone likes and then kill them off unexpectedly. A lot of people would be mad at you but you would get some people to cry.
     
  4. RIPPA MATE
    Offline

    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    sypathy sympathy sympathy and then a sudden event to tear out all those emotions... or something... :)
     
  5. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    A few novels that made me cry. The Notebook--three times. A Walk to Remember. Let me see, umm. Swan Song.

    I think you have to make the reader care about the characters and what happens to them before you can make them cry.

    SPOILERS In The Notebook (The movie only made me cry once) they go through so much to finally be together, and then she can't remember him. The ending is so powerful when she finally does one last time. Tear jerking moment.

    When we know a character wants something so badly, and then gets it, but also at the same time loses something, I think that makes people cry.

    In Swan Song one of the MCs is a bum. Has no friends, thinks she is a loser. People make fun of her. She is the crazy bum. As the novel progresses she gets this ugly growth on her, but she finds friends. The uglier she becomes from the same growth, the closer she gets to these people. At the end, the growth falls off leaving her beautiful. Yay, she is going to get the guy now, too. But no, she dies, but she dies happy.

    A lot of people cried at the end of ET. They grew to love the alien and the kids. The kids wanted him to stay more than anything, but even they finally realized he had to go and they let him.

    Here is a quick example of something I think could be turned into a tear jerker. Something I haven’t written in story form yet.

    Boy wants his father to be proud of him for once, for anything really. His father never once showed that he was proud of his son. The boy grows into a man, and still his father has never showed that he was proud of his son. He tried so hard. Put himself through college, got a great job, a wife, kids of his own, and still his father wouldn't acknowledge him.

    The father is a military man. Was raised to be hard. Emotions are a weakness. He is a strong man, survived two wars.

    The son gives up and realizes he will never make his father proud. He gets cancer. For a year he suffers in the hospital, but he doesn't give up. He struggles to pull through for his family, for his kids. And he does. The cancer goes into reemission.

    The father struggles to get the words out. This is the first time he ever saw his father cry. "Son, you went through hell. I would have asked for more morphine. I would have given up and died."

    “Is this what you wanted to tell me?” the son asks.

    The father pulls him into his arms, squeezes tightly. “You’re the damned strongest person I’ve ever known.”
     
  6. Castlesofsand
    Offline

    Castlesofsand Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    how do i create sadness. i just place myself into the character i'm creating, put them into a position where something tragic happens and try to feel that emotion, how i would react. it is much the same as the emotion of love. both love and hate are the same blade, both cut, make you bleed, if you can write about one, you can write about the other. its just a flip.

    if that doesn't work, i look at my bank statement, never fails to bring tears and sadness to me
     
  7. thegearheart
    Offline

    thegearheart Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    1
    I like to whack the sympathy characters. I also like to snatch success at the last second when it seemed the characters would get everything that they wanted.

    Tragedies in nonfiction books and autobiographies make me cry. They're just so real.
     
  8. PS Foster
    Offline

    PS Foster Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    I agree with Castle. When writing emotional scenes, I put myself into my character's shoes. Sometimes it actually hurts, letting me know I've got it right.
     
  9. g1ng3rsnap9ed
    Offline

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A small town called Pox...
    Exactly. Whenever I have a list of characters and one needs offed, I look at them and think "Now whose death would be the most traumatic to read?...:rolleyes:" And then base it off of that. This excludes projects in which each character plays a specific role in the plot of course, and many times the character's death is a part of the story-not just an excuse to get readers all teary-eyed. ;)
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    study the books/stories that made you [and/or others] cry when you read them... see how the pros do it and you should be able to figure out how to do it yourself...
     
  11. theheresy
    Offline

    theheresy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Definitely to have emotional attachment to a character is what makes me cry.

    The ingredients for that usually include:

    1. book goes into detail about the character's past so that you know more about them and feel for them

    2. character is designed such that he is similar to the demographic and 'archetype' of the reader that reads that specific genre. I.E. if you are writing a goth vampire YA novel targeted at anomic/angst-ridden and introverted goth teens then you better make a character that feels their pain and connects to them, don't make the book about a bank clerk or something they would have no personal connection to.

    3. the character has to APPEAR to have emotions. I'm reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon currently, and though there are several scenes that one would think were meant to be somewhat sad, they didn't even touch me because the characterization in this novel is very poor and you feel nothing for the main character simply because he seems impassive and stoic to the point that you can't even imagine him having feelings or caring so why should you.
     
  12. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    That's a good way. I'll add that make the death unexpected but make it good. Popular characters dying is one way that I know will evoke sadness in my reader.
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It doesn't have to be a death. Other forms of loss or sacrifice can be devastating, too. If the reader becomes invested in the character's needs and wishes, then those wishes are left in ruins, the reader can feel some of the grief experienced by the character.

    It may be particularly painful if the character feels compelled to surrender those dreams through his or her decision, forced by circumstances.
     
  14. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    I think it's easier to write something sad if you yourself have gone through a tragic moment or two in your own lifetime. I used to be a serious angst writer a few years ago when coping with my mother's alcoholism and her subsequent death from it. When you are grieving yourself, it's easier to write sadness, in my opinion.

    Right now if I want to write something sad, I try to really delve down into the things that make *me* sad so that my personal sadness comes across in what I'm writing.
     
  15. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Not necessarily true with me. I feel I can go pretty deep into the heart of sadness, including many events I have never experienced. It might be too painful for me has these things actually happened but because they didn't, I can go in without it and write it down. My brain is funny that way but I can place myself in the scenes I am writing and thus feeling the sadness is quite easy even though I have(Thank GOD) never experienced any of it.
     
  16. Castlesofsand
    Offline

    Castlesofsand Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    i'm not too keen on using the 'killing off a loved character' as a way to bring sadness. It's a quick fix but doesn't teach you how to build up the sadness first. you can do it but still need the story around the character so they give a damn, otherwise they just go, 'so what, i didn't like them anyway'
     
  17. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    That's the point of making them loved, and while making it unexpected, make it good and make it make sense. I always try to have a proper buildup so when it happens, it means something. In one instance, I tried to include the POV of the dying person to make it sad. But usually, I always put heaven focus on the reaction of everyone around.
     
  18. Castlesofsand
    Offline

    Castlesofsand Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    yes, but you shouldn't force a sadness using a death or it just seems forced. if they are so loved why kill them off.

    death can be made as a release of sadness also, not just limited to sadness. The story around the characters make the sadness, not the single act of a death. on saying that, i have used it myself, just don't believe it is the all-for-one solution.

    those dead persons pov's sometimes people turn away from but are fun to do, i think its our own reasoning and need for logic that stops us from seeing another's imagination
     
  19. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Don't ask me why they should be killed off. I just do what the writer in me says and let the emotional side of keep quiet. Why kill them off? Cause the story calls for it. All I can think of.

    Well the death story makes the story. Which is why I said do it right. Don't just have the character go out and have them randomly killed in a car crash and then forget about them after the funeral. (Speaking from serials of course) I used the deaths in my story of loved characters to launch big new stories.

    Sometimes maybe, but I think they paint a vivid picture of the scene. Especially with well-known characters.

    As for novels, killing off characters in novels often is just a natural flow of the story, especially at the end. In my novel "ideas"(Yet to be fully written out), characters often die at the end as a natural flow of the story. I feel death is a great tool for sadness, but sadness is a good use for a new story to be initiated, or in the case of condensed works, to act as an important point in the plot.
     
  20. Miswrite
    Offline

    Miswrite Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    0
    Death is the obvious action, but I was thinking more along the lines of a loss or natural devastation.
     
  21. Castlesofsand
    Offline

    Castlesofsand Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    natural devastation is easier then, and far better as everyone has experienced it personally, seen it on the news, bodies and such floating, houses ruined. I think that would be the best route, Miswrite, it not only affects those directly hurt, but also instils emotions from those around and so gives more fuel to the story
     
  22. Gone Wishing
    Offline

    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    1,045
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Australia
    I think trying to come up with events in an attempt to cause a sad reaction defeats the purpose - the event is the catalyst, the sadness is the effect, and what we're asking here is how to achieve that effect, I think. I know I've read tons of death scenes and whether the deaths are sudden or expected doesn't matter. The ones that make me teary are for characters I care about - the ones I have come to fear losing myself. Making a conscious effort to evoke emotion often makes the writing come across as contrived, or can leave the reader feeling manipulated, which only frustrates me. I like stories that are simply and honestly told, and you come away from them knowing that there was no other way for the story to have been told - i.e. it happened just the way it was meant to.

    I become emotionally invested in what's happening in a story not just because of the events that occur, but from gaining a level of understanding of the characters that experience them. That kind of understanding leads to things like knowing exactly what it means when they make a seemingly simple gesture, and I can immediately get a sense of their emotions... I've read death scenes - or recounts - that went for pages, for characters that I cared greatly about, but even then sometimes the eyes don't start stinging until another character in the book does or says a simple thing and it's like the weight of it all is suddenly felt, because you know in an instant that they faltered and felt the gravity themselves. (I always break down in a certain scene after the death of a favoured character, as soon as one of the character's stalwart facade is momentarily broken and they say 'but I don't understand' - simple, honest, and in the context of the story and character, it's utterly heartwrenching).

    Sometimes, through my own experiences, I already have a good understanding of the emotions involved, and just seeing a photograph can bring tears to my eyes. A photograph comes with no words attached, but you know it's real, and honest, and therefore tells you a story all on it's own. That's how I try write when I get to scenes which I feel are highly emotional, be it sadness or not.

    By that I mean that readers don't need to be shown or told point by point why or how something is sad, they don't even need to see or know everything about the situation, but if you are honest with writing the character's reactions and emotions, I think you have a greater chance of being able to evoke those kinds of emotions when readers get to it.

    I guess my personal advice would be to know your story and your characters first, and then not to compromise on the telling of it all. When you write, it's probably best not to concentrate, or even keep in mind, how others will react to it (when I find myself doing that, I tend to write watered-down versions that just feel flat).
     
  23. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    What I know of myself is that the big disasters aren't what bring forth the most emotion. It's the little disappointments and losses that most people can best relate to. A thoughtless remark freom an otherwise trusted friend can bring forth more empathy than gunning down galf the family in the wrong place during a drive by.
     
  24. InkyBlot
    Offline

    InkyBlot New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    I always find that I get attatched to the same characters that the main character gets attatched to (well..obviously) so it's always a heart wrenching thing when one of those characters is killed, or the bond is broken somehow.

    One example (and I don't even like the Harry Potter books that much ANYMORE) is when

    Dobby died in Deathly Hallows. That made me cry.
     
  25. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    I agree with the poster above me.

    ~Lynn
     

Share This Page