How To Make Your Readers Cry

By on April 6, 2017
How To Make Your Readers Cry - Writer's

One of the most important things to consider when writing a novel is how to ensure that your readers engage with it. Think back to reading your favourite book, why do you love it so much? It’s because you identify with it, it’s because it makes you feel something. Connecting with your readers on an emotional level is so important, they need to care - about your characters and about what happens to them. If they don’,t they won’t care about your story at all.

Our favourite books are so special to us because we become emotionally invested in them and, as an author, being constantly aware of where you can draw the reader further in, can hook them that little bit more and make them care that little bit deeper, is important throughout the novel writing process.

Making readers cry is one of the most powerful devices you can use in your novel. Most of my favourite books have had me in tears at some point. They’ve moved me - and by doing so they have become unforgettable.

So how do you make your readers cry? Here are several steps that will help you get there.

Create characters they care about

As mentioned previously, without caring about your characters, readers won’t care about what happens to them. Therefore, no matter how tragic the event, they won’t feel moved to tears. We know that sad things happen all over the world every day, but we don’t spend every waking minute wandering around bawling our eyes out, clutching our hearts, and wailing hysterically, do we? However, when we stop, take interest and engage in certain things then we start to connect, to resonate, to empathise, sympathise, and feel. You must spend time capturing your reader's attention, and creating these fantastic characters your readers can’t help but fall in love with - do that and when the tragedy occurs they won’t be able to stop themselves from shedding a tear.

Make them fight for something

Characters need to want something, something that they are willing to take risks and make huge life-changing decisions for. Readers have to understand how important it is for your characters to achieve their goals and desires, they have to believe that the character would do anything to get there. Make the stakes high and the prize big otherwise your readers can’t feel the desperation, the disappointment, the loss, the cost, or understand the sacrifices they have made and are willing to make over and over again. The ideas can be simple but they must appeal to those basic primal urges, love, sex, death, fear and so on -that’s what will grab a readers attention and make them care at the end of the day.

Be unpredictable

If your readers are able to second guess your story, they’ll have already prepared themselves unconsciously for the action that they believe will take place. Surprise them and in doing so don’t be afraid to shock and unsettle them either. This will make them invest more in your story, keep them gripped and coming back for more, so when that final success or failure occurs they’ll be sobbing with the bittersweet joy or the horrible unfairness of it all.

Be authentic

Don’t gloss over your sad moments, take your time with them, make them beautiful and agonising but most of all avoid the temptation to go overboard. Think about what people do and say and look like and act like when they are sad. Readers want to be able to identify with the emotion, so don’t be too soppy or unrealistic, but at the same time try to make the moment poignant and one where perhaps your protagonist truly becomes the hero of the story, despite everything that has happened.

You don’t have to write a tragic novel to include moments of sadness in it. Moving your readers to tears can be a wonderful way of getting them to truly engage with your novel and make it stick in their minds for a long time to come.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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