1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    How to describe 'crying'

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cacian, Jan 28, 2012.

    I believe it is one thing to show a picture of somone crying and another trying to describe.
    There are tears of joy to take into account.
    How do you describe someone crying because of joy as oppose to crying because of hurt.

    I usually associate crying with saddness or hurt and that is why I am not finding the words to describe it convincingly.
    I find the vocabulary for that is quite wide.

    He burst into tears
    He cried his eyes out
    He shed tears
    He sobbed
    He was tearfull

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    these would not apply to tears of say happiness/joy
    this for example is not correct
    He sobbed tears of joy
    He cried because he was happy.

    There is also tears of laughter.
    He laughed so much he had tears in his eyes.
    I am trying to describe someone with tears of happiness
  2. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    'She cried tears of happiness'

    Done.

    Don't try to overcomplicate it, or it will look contrived or melodramatic.
  3. leadbelly
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    leadbelly New Member

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    'His eyes welled with tears, his lips forming a smile.'
    'He tried sniffing discretely, as he smiled brightly.'

    There's a tons of ways... just make sure you show and don't tell--it will have a bigger emotional impact on the reader.

    I find when I'm stuck on how to show something, I'll go to YouTube and find a clip or dozens of what I'm trying to convey, watch them and then work from there. Think of all the mechanics that actually go into crying and just write about that (not in the context of your story just yet). Once you feel good about writing the action, then try working it into your story.
  4. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Both of these are somewhat over-described, IMO. When showing emotions its best to keep it simple and concise. Going into minute detail of every smiling sniff and snot trail just looks over the top.
  5. Show
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    Show New Member Contributor

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    Anything can be over-the-top if overdone. However, sometimes bare bones detail just comes off as flat and unmoving, which can be just as detrimental as overdescribing. I personally think "he cried tears of happiness" is a little more over the top than showing me the actions of shedding tears and crying.
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    He cried tears of happiness is heavy as a sentence.
    I am trying to think of whole word that conveys the action of tears of joy which I am sure is not there.
    He cried on its own is usually understood as an act of saddness or upset.
    A similar word to express the same but with an opposite meaning to upset does not actually exist.
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributor

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    A character simply wiping their eyes is enough to convey that they are crying. As is bowing their head and their shoulders trembling. Or snuffling/a red nose and a shift in their breathing pattern. More frequent blinking and damp/glossy eyes can suggest they are about to start crying while bloodshot/puffy eye(lid)s suggests that they already have. Depending on the content of the scene itself it should be obvious to the reader exactly why they are crying -- whether it's from remorse, frustration, pain, relief, joy, etc or even a combination of reasons -- so I don't see a need to directly specify what 'type' of tears they are.
  8. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Senior Member Contributor

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    Cacian, you will not develop as a writer if you keep asking these questions instead of finding out for yourself. The best way to find out how to describe tears of happiness, etc, is to sit down and write. Then when that's done, edit. And then write some more. At the moment, you're using others to do your work for you, although you're clearly thinking about what you could say rather than relying on those others. You'll not develop your own style doing that - just amalgamate a hodge-podge of the styles of others without knowing why it is you're writing like that.

    There are a few pointers every writer should know, and which guidance (not specific advice) should be given on. Things like what showing is against telling. Reminders to do just that. Don't use two words where one will do, etc.

    So my advice to you, Cacian, is that you should go away and just write the scene. Remember to show, and not tell, and then look critically at what you've written. If you don't think it's good enough, edit it, rewrite it. Learn by doing. You'll become a better writer for it.
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    if you read enough good writing, you wouldn't have to ask, because you'd have examples to go by...

    as for yours, none of them are 'showing' us a person is crying... they're just 'telling' us someone is crying...
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