Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group: Making Readers Cry

Welcome to the Insecure Writers Support Group, where on the first Wednesday of every month we expose our foibles to a cruel world! The subject this month is a little more positive than usual: What's the best thing anyone has ever said about your writing?

For me, it's when someone said my writing made them cry. I blogged about it way back in 2008. Here's the post:

I've been busy editing my second fantasy novel these past few weeks. My first novel got rejected by an editor at a major publishing house, but she wants to see my second one. I sent out a panicked email to a couple of my writing newsgroups asking for critiques. It was kind of a tall order--read and critique a 87,000 word novel in less than a month. Nonetheless, seven people replied.

That's one of the great things about the writing community, most writers support one another. Oh, I've met some notable exceptions, usually writers who have recently become successful and have gotten a swelled head, but all in all we're a pretty supportive bunch.

The critiques were quite helpful. Besides catching some typos (you can never catch them all yourself) they had some good suggestions for fleshing out the supporting characters, and clearing up a few scenes. They were also very complimentary. One even said the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my writing--that one scene made her cry.

Wow. I've never been happy about making someone cry since breaking up with a certain deserving ex-girlfriend in college. The scene was designed to make the reader cry, but I didn't think it actually would.

I can only hope it will make the editor cry

NOTE: It didn't. That novel, like my first one, got rejected. I was at the beginning of my fiction writing career and didn't know as much as I do now. Hopefully I can now make readers cry more reliably than in those early days.


Sioux said...

Sean--I will say that your writing creeps me out... sometimes (when it's supposed to). There are rare times when the scenery around me has an eerie feeling. Perhaps the highway--at a certain time at night--has no cars... for as far as I can see.

And I envision a scene from your "Toxic" book series. And for a moment--a brief moment--that horrible world that you created is real.

So yes. Getting your readers to shed tears or to shiver is proof of great writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, bummer!
I've made readers cry. I feel bad even though it's a good thing.

Yolanda Renée said...

Making a reader cry is a great goal, unless you really wanted them to laugh! :) Just kidding, I think it's a wonderful compliment! I wish I could say the same!

Kelsie Engen said...

What a great idea! One of the best things I was told when I published my first short story was that it was too short--that is, the reader could have spent more time with those characters. I thought that was great (and so sweet), as it meant they weren't ready for the story to end! :-) I love yours too!

Anne Doucette said...

That's kind of funny isn't it? That sometimes in writing we want to make people cry - in a good, enjoyable way of course! Glad it worked that once and will work more in the future!

Anne from

Loni Townsend said...

Hehe, yeah, making readers cry is a talent--one I've never had myself. That's great that you touched someone enough to elicit such emotion! Woot!

dolorah said...

Ah, so sorry the editor did not get the story like the reader did.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.