Writers need to: CRY

Writers need to cry! So bring out that box of tissue tucked away for cold and flu season, sit down, and cry. Go on!

…I can almost feel you all go “What? Why? What did we do?”

It’s nothing that you did, but Robert Frost, quite a famous poet had once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader”.

It makes sense when you complete the sentence, doesn’t it? No?

Well let me tell you, he is absolutely correct in his observation! Absolutely. I should know, I’ve had to tread on eggshells for scenes that were supposed to portray emotions that grip the characters, which in turn is meant to grip the readers.

I mean, when we write these stories or scenes, we imagine these bits will wring out a drop of tear from a reader, or completely render them bawling their eyes out on the floor, or if they are reading in public, force them to slyly swipe at the corner of their eye.  These scenes are emotional, sad, tugging at your hear-string, and you, as the reader, feel the turmoil and emotions the characters are going through. At least that’s the inspiration and the drive behind these scenes. However, it is quite another to deliver such work.

Imagine: you have a scene and you know it’s an important turning point in the story, an emotional union of two star-crossed lovers, lets suppose. And you begin writing this, you can see the scene in your head, so you start with one word and let the scene build. You think you’re doing a fantastic job, the sentences are riveting, and well structured, you use emotional words, etc. Hell, you think you’ve written the scene well and believe that when a reader reads it, they will cry. Your mission complete!

Wrong! (I say this from experience)

I have personally noticed the mistake made in these instances. If you, as a writer, the first person to see this heart rendering scene in your head haven’t actually shed any tears over this story/scene, then you can not possibly hope to have that effect on the reader. You need to be crying and hurting when you write these. If you do not have a box of tissues handy to dab away the moisture from your eyes as you are writing this said emotional scene, then that scene isn’t working as you imagine it to be.

The other day, I had my muse cruelly inspire me with a story at a time when I had no time to spend on developing it as I was in the midst of desperately trying to complete an assignment for uni. And instead, I found myself blankly sitting there, mulling the story over in my head, and at one point, had to reach for the tissue. By the time I had the story muddled out in my head in the two hours, I had a pile of tissues at my feet, and a dry sketch of a story I had intended to be a short – but now, after those emotional couple of hours spent over it, I’ve decided I might hold off completing my third novel and instead write that.

The point I’m making is, if the emotions of a story don’t shake you as the writer, don’t draw moisture to your eyes, and make you sniffle and feel completely silly sitting there all alone and crying, then you can not possibly hope to relay those emotions to the reader.

So yes, go ahead. Cry!

And if you cry, then you can deliver that scene to its full effect, because when we are raw, and feeling all those emotions and sentiments bubbling up underneath our skin, then in those moments of vulnerability you write raw. And raw is what delivers emotions!

So, be raw, be hurt, and be ready to write! (All at the same time.)

If not, then perhaps mull over the scene some more, or find another avenue through which you can approach that story. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who will admit that an emotional scene has left us in tears. In fact, sometimes, these spontaneous threads are so much more powerful than when you sit down with a plan and write.

One advice I can give you and which may in fact help you capture the rawness of a scene to its full effect is: invest in a voice recorder! Stat! (Something I must do – the one I bought from eBay was faulty.) Why? Because, we all know that writers are in fact actors – ones who only act in their head, and for themselves. It is in these moments of being ‘on set’, being the ‘characters’ to figure out what they are feeling that the best organic rawness and originality comes from. You don’t know how many times I’ve had these moments and hit gold, yet had to watch it wash away because I had nothing to capture the moment. Believe me, trying to recreate this moment in our heads is always lacking – and it won’t have the same effect.

So my advice to all writers writing emotional scenes. Cry, cry like no one is watching, be the character, feel their emotions and have a voice-recorder (a.k.a. a Dictaphone) handy and press record.

I wouldn’t mind knowing how you find these instances, or share your own story of when your own tales brought you to tears.

I hope you all enjoy a good cry from now!

robert frost1

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