Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Non-writers just don’t understand: the joy of making someone cry


making you cryMy title sounds a bit psychopathic, doesn’t it? I’m not a sadist or anything, I swear! It’s just, there are few jobs in the world where it’s a good thing to make a working partner cry. Not only is it a good thing, it might be like the best compliment you can get! (If you are writing something with sad things in it that is)

So the inspiration for my slightly creepy Sponge Bob meme… I was told this week by an awesome, amazing new critique partner that the end of one of my manuscripts made her cry. This was totally me:

Brad-Pitt-Dance-GifThat means I was able to create characters that were real and rounded enough that at least one reader cared deeply enough to be emotionally moved by imaginary events happening to fictitious people. All that hard work on characterization and pacing and plot construction (and redoing all of it several times) paid off!

Writer friends, what do you think is the best kind of compliment you can get on your manuscript?

16 thoughts on “Non-writers just don’t understand: the joy of making someone cry

  1. Ian Clements

    Right now, it would be that I made someone laugh/taught them something. It’s tricky not to be didactic when you’ve found research so interesting, but hopefully I strike the balance of chuckles first and ‘Wait, what? That was true?’ second.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ian Clements

        Good question! I struggle to find a genre for it. Sort of historical fantasy/historical parody. A series of short stories told by an entitled and unhinged Victorian named Norton Pumblesmythe. The fun part for me is that it blends genuine history and fantastical nonsense, leaving me amused by the mental image of a history buff nodding along until their monacle pops out in shock and confusion. I’m quite easily amused.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. sjoycarlson Post author

        haha I am also quite easily amused. Not going to lie, one of my life mottoes is, “The more easily amused you are, the more amusing life is.” Your work sounds Terry Pratchett-esque + history 😛 Lol your comment about the monocle totally amused me, by the way.


  2. phantomwriter143

    I love my beta readers, but they’re rarely helpful since none of them are writers. They usually just say, “Oh, it was great!” Yeah. Not helpful.

    The best compliment I ever received was from a friend/beta reader of mine. She’s amazingly well read, but quite unreliable as a beta reader and took a LONG time to finish the manuscript. She told me: “I felt like you were just talking to me telling me a story. It sounded so much like you.”

    That made me feel AMAZING! I was always concerned that my voice didn’t sound authentic, but her comment made me feel like what I was writing was really from me. It was my voice and my creativity that shone through, not me attempting to sound like someone else.

    I hope I do make people cry, eventually. I have made people laugh, and that feels good, but I feel like it’s harder to make them cry. I surely will dance for joy when someone tells me they cried because of my stories. You’re not a psychopath at all. 🙂


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      That’s great! That means that you were able to make your characters feel real and your reader was able to connect to them like they were real people! Making people laugh, making people cry, it’s all a sign that your readers are connecting with the characters, and that’s what matters 🙂 Yeah it’s been a matter of trial and error to find good beta readers. For me, I’ve found most of mine through joining local writing groups and also lately from getting involved in on-line pitching contests, including twitter pitch contests. Met so many amazing writers through these, which totally surprised me at first!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. christineplouvier

    My first novel received an alpha reader comment about “wiping away tears,” and a reviewer who read an ARC mentioned “wanting to weep” for the characters. These remarks reminded me of one of my undergrad theatrical performances (I had the ingenue lead in “Our Town”), when from the stage I could hear people in the audience sobbing.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Great comparison! Yes the arts, the only job where it’s good to make people cry (except unless you’re a police interrogator maybe lol). And congrats on the “compliments” on your works.


      1. christineplouvier

        Thank you! I wish more people would take a chance on it. The book has a couple of high-star ratings and positive reviews (by strangers), it’s reported to be on about three dozen TBR lists (also all strangers), and the e-book aggregator says there have been 84 downloads of the 51% preview (by whom, I have no idea). That’s about it.


  4. uturnstars

    My most consistent feedback so far has been “I couldn’t put it down.” I’ve had several laugh in the same places and get mad at both me and the characters for the situation presented. I haven’t reached the crying stage yet with many readers, but I hope to soon!


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