When scanning Pinterest, I often come across posts that talk about crying when a character dies. So many of them take the tone that says other people find it strange. I’ve never once had someone say it’s odd that I cry at sad parts of a story, but apparently some people have. The thing that always crosses my mind when reading those pins, though, is that authors should be thrilled to have readers cry at a character’s death.
Not that we’re sadists, of course. At least, I sure hope not. I don’t find pleasure in causing people pain. The part that makes me happy is that readers feel emotionally connected enough to my characters to cry. Not everyone cries, even when they are sad, but we’re striving for connection. And readers can connect regardless of whether they cry or not.
Nonetheless, crying is a universal sign of grief (or extreme joy in some cases). It is a clue that emotional investment is at play. There’s a story in those tears.
With that in mind, I want to hear your thoughts on what makes you connect to a character, especially a hero/heroine. But first, I’d like to lay out a couple of stereotypes to be wary of.
The Hallmark Hero
I do enjoy Hallmark movies, and there are some beautiful, well-made ones out there. But the vast majority of the ones I’ve watched, recently at least, have perfect heroes and heroines. Somehow I still get emotional about the stories, but it’s not because of the characters. Don’t make perfect characters; it’s difficult to connect to someone who has no flaws.
The Arrogant Attitude
I say this one with a caution stamp all over it, but I think it is something to think about. Obviously, readers can care about an arrogant hero (Tony Stark, anyone?), but it’s usually because of some characteristic below the surface, not because of his/her arrogance. Pride is quite off-putting, and it is thus difficult to connect with a prideful character. Not impossible, of course, but if a main character is more arrogant than most, he’s going to need a redeeming quality somewhere that is more emotionally engaging.
So, what do ya’ll think? Do you cry at emotional parts while reading/watching movies? What tends to get you the most? What kind of heroes and heroines do you like to write? Let me know in the comments!