Don’t Let Your Novel’s Characters be Crybabies

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A lot of writers attempt to increase the drama of a scene by having their characters cry.  This can work (sometimes) if we know the character really well and truly empathize with them. But waterworks should be used sparingly in your novel, very sparingly.  If everything is a 10 out of 10, then nothing has any intensity at all.

Besides, who wants to read about a blubbering crybaby, anyway?  The last thing you want are readers rolling their eyes at your character’s melodrama, silently urging them to pull up their big kid pants.

The other reason to keep tears to a minimum is that tears release tension, and a novel should build tension. So if something bad happens and your character cries, that crying is like a catharsis, washing away the fear, excitement, or sadness.

The other, other reason to avoid crying is that most people find resisting tears much more touching than falling into a blubbering heap.  Consider the following examples:

“I hate you,” he spat.

She burst into sobs, tears streaming down her face.

Versus:

“I hate you,” he spat.

Her lip trembled, but she swallowed hard, turning away.

See how much more powerful the second example is?

Is your novel making you (the author) a crybaby? Learn more about how my editing services can help you.

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Let Your Novel’s Characters be Crybabies

  1. ratherthanwriting says:

    That’s a good point about tears releasing tension. It certainly builds up the drama and tells readers a little bit more about the emotional state of the character in the second example and could tie more into back story. It certainly makes for a richer story. Thanks for posting!

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