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JamesSavik

Have your characters ever moved you to tears?

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Totally. What I write is most often for cathartic reasons, so I'm already emotionally committed to the character, and wallow in the tears, letting them wash away some of my pain in the process. I can reread my own work, and get the same result, and benefit, many times.

Frankly, if you didn't connect with those people, you wouldn't be nearly the writer you are.

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It's not so simple for me, but yes I have had tears as I write and read, but not so much at the characters, as due to the cathartic release of the creative experience, of finally seeing that something I am writing or reading, is representative of some abiding, if momentary truth, of expressing some appreciation of thought and intuition I think I have discovered, in language.

Moved beyond the words and their meanings to a place where it can be seen that they are mere symbols of experience, of thoughts and above all, perceptions, it is not uncommon for me to weep as I feel I have managed to write something of life's turmoil, excitement, inspiration and which I am sharing through the characters and the plot.

Then come the weighted criticisms cast onto my confused phrases and drowned in their own sea of sloppy sentimentality, never to be revered in revelations of rational emotions.

Yet somehow it all becomes worthwhile when I see and read others achieving, suffering, wondering the same things in their writing, in their attempts to share their sentience, I realise, despite the moments of envy, I am no longer in competition with my fellow writers, as I cry new tears of joy at their words...and mine.

Tears also communicate.

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Of course. My characters and lots of other writers' characters.

I take it a step further, however. I intentionally try to make readers cry. I have this feeling that if I can make readers both laugh and cry in the same story, I'm doing something right.

When I wrote When He Was Five, I had trouble seeing the screen much of the time. I loved it! I think strong emotions help bond you to the characters, and help sell the story. So I liked it that the story made me feel that way. What I found rather amazing and still don't completely understand is, with all the times I've read that story, with all the edits and rewrites and such, I still tear up when I read it. You'd think I'd be over it by now.

But I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I know I'm sentimental. Crying when you read something, your own or someone else's, just helps verify that.

And James, we all knew you were sentimental anyway.

C

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I had several readers tell me they cried while reading certain parts of Groovy Kind of Love. My response to them was, "I cried while writing some of that novel, and I knew what was going to happen!"

And that was the absolute truth. I think if you get to a point where you convince yourself that your story is real -- or at least is a version of the truth -- then the emotions can be real enough to cause people to react.

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Guest Fritz

James asks have my characters ever moved me to tears. Absolutely. Not only have they moved me to tears, they have made me giggle hysterically, both sometimes to the point of making it impossible to write until I managed to calm down. They have also made me angry with them when a character insists on going in a direction that I didn't want the story to go, or act in a way I don't approve of.

So James, if you are losing it I think you have lots of company. I think it would be difficult to make a good character without forming a strong attachment for and with said character, and once the attachment is formed, the tears, anger, and laughs naturally follow just as they would with a friend or enemy placed in similar situations. As I see it, if you do not love your characters to the point of being able to cry with, laugh at or with, or hate them, you don't love or hate them enough to do a good job of portraying them. While there may be authors who can build compelling characters without becoming attached to them, I think they are an anomaly.

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I've got some neat characters and I'm putting them through hell.

Good for dramas sake but I hate it for them. You'll read all about it in Chapter 12-13 of Twilight and understand.

BTW- chapter 5 is up and ready.

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James, if I should ever get to write a novel with multiple chapters, will you do the publicity for me?

You sure know how to spike interest. :stare: Half the planet is waiting for the next chapter of Twilight, the other half is busy reading chapter 5. :icon_geek:

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They have also made me angry with them when a character insists on going in a direction that I didn't want the story to go, or act in a way I don't approve of.

Yeah, I had a similar thing happen, once. I had a character that I had written out of a story, and damned if he didn't get back in a few months later. It was as if there was unfinished business with him -- and perhaps there was.

That was a case where I hadn't written any kind of outline at all for the story, and my lead character answered the phone in a scene and got a call from the missing character. This led to a conversation with a third character, and his final line stopped me dead in my tracks. I literally sat there, looking at the screen, and said, "oh, shit. He's gonna die." There was absolutely no other way to go with the story; I think I had avoided thinking about it because on some level I knew bad things were on the horizon, but had never articulated it until that moment.

I had no idea that was going to happen, and it completely changed the course of the novel. Funny, how a single line of dialog can set up a domino effect that turns into a tidal wave...

Stephen King has a habit of doing that as well. In at least three or four novels, he'll set up a romance or a loving relationship between two characters, establish it for several chapters, then get to a moment where he says, "they said goodbye, but as he left, it never occurred to him that it was the last time he'd ever see her alive again." BOOM, end of chapter.

If nothing else, this is an alert that tears are just around the corner. I try to work in a little foreshadowing so sharp-eyed readers will realize that a certain character's days are numbered. A few of them have caught on and written me, "oh, Jesus... don't tell me you're gonna kill character X! Anything but that!"

The fact that they got so emotionally caught up to believe these characters were real absolutely blew my mind. On one level, I could say, "hey, calm down -- it's just ASCII text on a screen." But on another, I responded, "yeah, I shed some tears, too. I literally had tears in my eyes and sweat trickling from my pores during that death scene." I think making it extremely realistic and messy and traumatic -- just as death often is in real life -- helps.

I'm guilty of killing off several major characters off-screen in my novels (at least Groovy and Jagged Angel), which to me is a terrible cheat. I've resolved not to do that again, because it's the easy way out. (Except maybe in a mystery, where you don't know who killed the victim until the bitter end.)

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I had the opposite experience with my first submission to AwesomeDude.

It was a narrative poem that I had set aside some 30 years before. It was to be a monologue for a play I never wrote.

The idea was to open the story with absolute devastation; the tragedy of a love that could never be realised in a physical sense.

So I rewrote the material into the poem and found myself at the last few lines when suddenly a happy ending sprang from nowhere on to the page. I stared at it in disbelief. Where the blazes did that come from?

I just love the creative process when it surprises me like that. :icon_geek:

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I've written characters who make me cry and characters who make me laugh, even when rereading stories months or years after I've written them. I enjoy that part of writing, and that part of reading my stories and, of course, with other authors' stories.

I also find characters who take control of the writing of a story, always much to my delight. Sometimes it's a minor character -- even someone who's always been offstage -- and other times it's the protagonist or another important character. My favorite is how the protagonist and the supporting character changed roles in The Dying Game. I'd never had a character change the point of view in a story before. And I love that she did just that. When I finished writing this short story I was amazed to realize what had happened; and I still smile about that.

Writing is joyful and surprising and revealing and I love it.

Colin :icon_geek:

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If you can't let yourself get emotionally involved with your characters, how can they become real to your readers? When I wrote The Cup Bearer I became Emilio and wept buckets when he was hurt and felt elated when he got one over an antagonist. A good writer fee's evrything a character feels, even the baddie.

Dorothy

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I'd like to know if other authors have been there- just in case I'm losing it.

Often! One of my stories a main character died. It was a senseless death. No I didn't kill him, he just died. I cried for nearly two weeks every time I sat down at the keyboard. It was my second story too. Almost my last one.

Quite often my characters or their situation will have me doing buckets. If your characters do not personify themselves to you then they probably don't move the readers either. For me, a good story should, at some point work every emotion you have.

Common ? Perhaps. Normal ? It has nothing to do with it. In your case . . . anyways. lol

cheers.

John

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I like Cole, intentionally write things that I hope will move people emotionally. Be it sad, glad, anger or somewhere in between.

I never plan on writing something that will make people cry. It just seems to happen as I'm writing, in the right place in the story. I think that if I sat down and said to my author self, "Now, write this paragraph so people will cry" the results would be awful, and no one would cry including me. The same is true with humor, I can't force myself to write something that people will laugh at. I'm jealous of those who have the ability to do just that successfully.

Colin :wav:

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I never plan on writing something that will make people cry. It just seems to happen as I'm writing, in the right place in the story. I think that if I sat down and said to my author self, "Now, write this paragraph so people will cry" the results would be awful, and no one would cry including me. The same is true with humor, I can't force myself to write something that people will laugh at. I'm jealous of those who have the ability to do just that successfully.

Colin :wav:

I think there's a lot of truth in that. I don't think it's that I sit down purposefully to write something to evoke tears. It's more that as I'm writing something that's appropriate for the story at that point, somthing that fits the story, I'm well aware that the way it's being written will bring tears.

C

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I just assume that everything I write will bring people to tears, one way or the other, or, for that matter, the other. Expressions that come to mind are "crying shame", "sad", "laughed till I cried".

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I always wondered if writers ever thought some of what they wrote was as amazing

as I did--now I know. And couldn't be more pleased. You are a group that seem

more inclined to be your own harshest critics.

Of course, that's what made you so great! :icon_geek:

Tracy

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