Subscribe to email updates

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crying, Tears And Their Use In Fiction

A post on a writer-related Facebook page about "She started to cry" versus the more efficient "She cried" made me curious about my "cry" scenes. And made me realize that it isn't the crying that is so important to the reader, it is the reaction to the crying.

From The Notebook

She slipped, fell backwards, and I was there to grab her shoulders and steady her. She twisted her head to look at me. Tears were in her eyes. I think a man who fails to kiss a woman when a woman wants to be kissed–needs to be kissed–is condemned to hell. A man who cannot recognize when a woman wants to be kissed lives in hell.

“I never knew it was possible to be that afraid. I know now how being that afraid could make a person snap. It really is possible to have something happen to you that is more than you can endure. I was close. I mean, I was right at the edge.”

She knew enough just to put a hand on my shoulder. She knew enough to just let me cry.

She was a damn good nurse.


"Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone,
"Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you..."

I had to pull the car over the side of the rode while I bawled like a baby. My date kept asking me what was wrong, but I just turned up the volume on the radio and increased the flow of my tears. When the song ended and my tears finally stopped, I turned off the radio and explained to my date why I was crying. Explained about Suzanne and Gladys and my sister and my mother and Dad and Gwen and Mrs. Bryson and Phil and Alex Krout.

When I finished she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you take me home now and come up for a drink?”

Male tears are an aphrodisiac to some women. At least they were to the woman who became my wife.

We named our daughter Suzanne

I hadn't thought of Mrs. Schmidt as a person before. She was just an old lady who dumped into the trash things that were highly interesting to me and often still useful.
I remember looking at Kathy and seeing her cry. What I was feeling was a strange anger. Upstairs we could hear the women laughing as they passed around plastic containers designed to hold all sorts of leftovers, while down in the basement we had uncovered a horrible truth about a woman who lived just doors away. I experienced the helplessness that the absurdity of life too often presents us.

"It isn't right," Kathy was saying. "It isn't right to lose all your sons in a war."

All I could do was dumbly nod my head.


The night before she was to leave she went to the bathroom before coming to bed with me. When she came back she had cut her hair.

"Leaving this look behind, too," she told me. "Oh, fuck, don't cry."

I couldn't help it. I was losing my life and I didn't know what else to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment