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In This issue... Weep your Reader - by Bruce L. Cook


Bruce L. Cook

Weep your Reader 

For myself (blush), the best writers are those who can make me weep..... (continued below)
Weep your Reader
by Bruce L. Cook

For myself, the best writers are those who can make me weep.

As a writer, I ask myself what kind of emotional scene will do that best? How exactly shall I present it? Maybe a grotesque and tragic scene, or one in which the main character has been miserably deceived. Or a triumphant scene in which the protagonist has vanquished the foe or preserved something that was close to destruction. Either of these may work, but thatís not the point.

The point is that the reader will not cry unless the writer cries harder. Both have to care about the characters. This is one long and tall order, for the writer just made up the characters and they are entirely fictional. And worse, for the reader, the characters are but shadows and have nothing at all to do with reality.

Despite this truism, the writer and reader can care, and even obsess, over the characters in a story. In fact, even though ďa grown man never cries,Ē if the fiction writer canít cry deeply over one of his/her own characters, why is the writer doing fiction at all?

There is good reason to cry for our characters. For we cry not only for that character, but for the part of us which is identified there. Further, while we may not be philosophers or kings, we also weep for that kind of character, for one who suffers or exults and typifies the many who will someday face that kind of situation in all places and times.

Alas, poor Yorick.

But why does a novel we cry over get that special place on the old bookshelf? Is it because we like to cry?

It seems to me that crying is the ultimate emotion, perhaps even better than competing emotions, for it is through crying that we reach out to others. We secretly brush away a tear even as we hope that someone we care about might see and take compassion, or share our exultation.

This is the ultimate power of fiction. As Kathy Hartwell has reminded me, a childís first communication is through crying. When we die, the first emotion to those around us is the same. And, along the way, weeping often accompanies our mountaintop moments.

Writer, you have access to this great power. The controls are in your hand and heart. Accept this responsibility and use it responsibly, for we need to hold focus on the truths our characters have taught us. Letís not, like Upton Sinclair in the past and several writers in the modern era, take advantage of this power in vain attempts to manipulate our readers.

Make crying happen for the sake of the character you created. Carefully trim your emotional scene to what your character has proven. Let those fingers slip on tear-stained typewriter keys, and you will have found your home for life.

--Bruce Cook, Publisher
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Publishing New Writers,

September, 2022 (vol. 23, no.9)


Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123

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