1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Writing that brings tears

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Aug 18, 2011.

    There has been a thread on this, but I do want to go into it stylistically.

    Well, first off is if you have ever read something that made you cry. But the question I really have here is, why did it make you cry? Was it the buildup to the scene? Or something about how it itself was written?

    I've always wondered this because, to me, that's one of the biggest accomplishments a writer can ever hope to get. Getting an emotional reaction out of the reader is hard to begin with, so getting one of the magnitude really says something about the ability of the writer to tell stories.
     
  2. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    Yes. My favorite books are the kind that will rip my heart out, and I agree that it takes great talent to accomplish such emotional impact.

    I think it is a combination of the events, the wording, and the build up that make such an impact. Relating to the character is important. I have read books that may not have upset me earlier in my life, but they upset me now. I like sparse writing, with carefully chosen words that are haunting. Stephen King is the exception to the sparse writing.

    I think my favorite characters are the ones that have to make the most difficult decisions, and carry the burden of those decisions, or the ones that lose the most.

    Well-written grief is the most powerful emotion at the center of my favorite books.
     
  3. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    this is something im really hoping!! i can achieve in one of my stories i really want to be able to create it but its hard i know that. no easy challenge.

    i remember one book made me cry because it was about love between two people and he sent her a letter and the way it was written was beautiful, touching and so romantic and meaningful. and there love had seemed so hopeless like it would not hapen and then suddenly through the letter it was agian possible and it was just wonderful with the emotions and feelings of the characters. my favorite romantic letter, the words are just haunting.
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah, yeah, that's something I'm trying to do some day too. I tried somewhat recently, like months ago here actually, and it didn't work out because I wasn't patient.
    Something very interesting I've read is that if a character cries, the reader won't, but if the character doesn't, the reader will cry for them. Not sure if that applies to any of you, but I thought it was interesting at least.
     
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  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    A happy ending after a character has been through hell. If it's in first person, even better. The writer/narrator ends with such a great line that wraps the story in a little neat package, you're left wondering what happened after that ending. Did they really live a good life after that? That's the kind of endings that usually make me cry.
     
  6. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    That is a very interesting observation. It holds true for some of the novels I can think of, but not all.
     
  7. Shaezy
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    Shaezy Member

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    Firstly I have to admit that I am a BIG crier. I laugh and cry a lot and am very outwardly emotional.

    For me, often it isn't even an event that makes me cry. I have to totally connect to the character and if I am invested in them, chances are I will cry at the end regardless of whether it's happy or sad. One of my favourite crime series ended recently and I bawled my eyes out - even though his little team all survived and had (relatively) happy outcomes. The series was quite light and funny too. I felt the loss of the relationship I had built with the characters, as well as some of the tragedies that had occurred throughout the series.

    If I don't connect, I don't respond even when it's a tragic tale - I have read a few dramas in the past and just didn't feel empathy with the characters despite the dire situations and outcomes they experienced. My friends find this odd considering I cry at puppies on toilet paper commercials but I simply couldn't find that connection.

    If you can write a character who gets under my skin, I will guarantee you tears.
     
  8. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    yeah thats good point and very true. i actualy wrote a scene similar to this description and i felt emtional and teary and i had writeen it! so it must work :p
     
  9. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    I think this may be part of why one needs to show and not tell. When a character cries it's telling us something is sad usually. On the other hand, when the character won't cry but the reader does, then the imagery has come in properly.

    Speaking of, that reminds of a reason why this is so difficult in writing. Movies, animation and similar mediums have music and visual imagery combined to bring out the tears, at times being rather manipulative. When you can get a piano to play at just the right time, while darkening the screen some just right, you have a far higher chance of getting tears.

    The writer, on the other hand, has only words. So, the plot and the characters really have to work for it to occur. Sure, writing style will help, but it won't get the result by itself.
     
  10. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    yeah so true i tried to create that effect and i think it worked well

    yep completly agreeee its alot tougher to write and bring such emotion out
     
  11. AveryWhite
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    AveryWhite Senior Member

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    for me im not, it takes alot for me to cry in stories so it really has to get me involved and emotional, so if it makes me cry i know its good :p

    i hope i can achieve this then with mine :p
     
  12. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    This thread inspired me to change the ending of my novel and make it a lot more tragic. :}
     
  13. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Dramatic irony taken to an extreme sense works very well. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close does this well - each of the characters have something to say and each wants someone else to say something to them, but none of them speak up. And of course, what each character wants to say is the exact thing the other one wants to hear.

    It did not bring me to tears, albeit I was able to sympathize with the characters and I felt sad for them. Manipulate this idea a little more and you can tear your reader's eyes up.
     
  14. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    The ability to get a reader to cry (or otherwise that type of emotional response) relies on one thing only; emotional identification.

    No one would identify if someone lost a million dollars gambling. However, they would if the gambler was trying to pay of his mothers health bills from something like cancer.

    The heartbreak has less to do with how it's written but why the character or situation is such that the reader would be saddened enough to cry. Sure, good writing will make it sing, as it were. However, without the core identification to the situation/character, all the great prose will go nowhere.
     
  15. Phantomwriter
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    Phantomwriter Member

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    When I'm reading a book the thing that causes me to cry isn't just the build up but also the character interactions with each other. If characters have great interactions the emotional build up is greater.

    I've also been told that not crying actually makes it to where you want to cry.
     
  16. alyal123
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    alyal123 New Member

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    I don't often cry when reading books, but if I have gotten very attached to a character emotionally, and if they have romance with another character, their death often hits me quite hard. One example is in "Boy Soldier" by Andy McNab. The journalist gets killed at the end, and he is such a relatable character, and it happens so suddenly. I nearly burst into tears in front of my family. I had to go upstairs to let out my emotions.
     
  17. jpeter03
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    jpeter03 Member

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    I think this is a great topic. There have really been two novels that have moved me to the point where I felt truly connected to the pain of the characters. They happen to be two of my favorites for that very reason. In one instance, the main character reads of the death of another. The evolution of the connection between these two characters has been so incredibly subtle that the reader is hit with the same shock as the main character. I literally felt my heart drop and it was only then, at the same time that the main character has realized the extent of his feelings for the deceased that I realized how emotionally involved I was in the story. Just brilliant. The other instance is from a novel that took such an unflinchingly honest look at the pains of relationships and the problems they face that it just hit too close to the bone. I had to stop reading that one for a while and picked it up later- first time that has ever happened. If you are capable of eliciting such a response from your reader, your writing has truly become sophisticated and powerful.
     
  18. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't even remember if/when I last cried from reading a book, while several movies has made me cry throughout the years, even though I'm not an "easy crier", lol. I think a tragic ending could be a reason, and in movies it's more effectful still, because the right music reinforces that feeling.
    I'll keep that in mind.
    I had a similar experience when writing the almost-ending scene to a story which I later put on hold. It really touched me to the point that I started to cry, maybe because i felt so close to that character in that moment. I like reading /watching stories that makes me cry though. Hopefully I will be able to touch someone in the same way one day.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Stephen King's Under the Dome brought tears to my eyes, when I realized how much of my valuable time spent reading it was lost forever.

    Does that count?
     
  20. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol I felt the same after I read Dreamcatcher, by the same author.
     
  21. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Umm, not quite. This crying comes from the book bringing emotional impact, not being trash.:)

    But man, that must have been REALLY bad. Stephan King has not been doing well of late I guess.
     
  22. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    I enjoyed Lisey's Story, and Just After Sunset. I am looking forward to All Dark, No Stars.

    I haven't read Under the Dome, but I would imagine that even Stephen King has a few misses here and there.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I derailed the discussion, so I'll bring it back on track.

    There were several places in The Lord of the Rings that brought me to tears, not only the first time, but also on the thirtieth (or so) read:

    When Gandalf falls in battle with the Balrog.
    When Gandlaf reappears in Fangorn Wood.
    When Boromir falls re4deeming himself.
    The Battle of the Pelenor Fields, with the fall of Theoden AND the destruction of the High Nazgul.
    The coronation of Aragorn.

    Just to name a few.

    I'm a sucker for a well-written emotional moment. I get choked up for character deaths, acts of selfless heroism, characters finally recognizing their love, all kinds of emotional peaks and valleys.
     
  24. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I recently read a book, that although the tears didn't spill, her eyes welled many times. I wept for her. But it was an abusive husband that would not permit tears. Later in the series, she did cry. In fits that wracked her body from the description of the text. Again, I cried. I don't think this holds very true as I've read it many times that the character has cried and I ache for them. Now, if I cry or not is highly dependent upon the writing.

    Fauntine's death...a few tears, but by the end, Hugo had developed emotionalism so perfectly (in spite of me hating his 10 page long history lessons), that when Jean Valjean died, I sobbed.

    I don't tend to like books that make me weep for the sake of weeping though. I need resolution. I can handle an intense amount of emotion as long as there is closure in the end. I've read many books that don't do this. Long drawn out illnesses culminating in death. Sure I'll cry. I may even sob in fits. I've done it before, but it doesn't mean I like it. "Stepmother" was a movie of intense emotionalism. I don't like feeling like my feelings are being toyed with. And that's what too much can do.

    I guess it needs to be balanced, I suppose.
     
  25. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Hi Killer,

    I think that if you're aiming to achieve an emotional response from your readers, your writing must first get an emotional response out of you.

    Does it hurt you to make Mary Sue lose her husband? Do you cry when you find out your MC has been diagnosed with cancer?

    If what happens to your characters feels more like a piece of information than a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking discovery, then you can guarantee your readers will feel the same.

    I read somewhere about an author who made her MC do something that was downright evil. It went against everything she stood for, and it felt as if the character herself had betrayed her. This kind of reaction shows that you have developed a character who is more than merely a name on a piece of paper.

    These people need to mean something, they need to be as close to real people as is possible. This way, when they do something, or something happens to them, you and your readers will feel as though it is happening to a real person.

    Hope this helps :)
     

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