As a general rule, my favorite stories (usually films) are the ones that can consistently (ie: when I watch/read them again and again) make me cry. It doesn’t happen often; there are only a few films I’ve found so far, only a couple of books, maybe an episode of a TV-show here or there. Thinking back, the only book I can think of, specifically, is a graphic novel, and I think part of the emotions I had tied up in it were from the film adaptation.
Despite the fact that I write books, books don’t seem to “do it” for me. I read a lot of books, lately, and there were periods here and there in my youth when I read a lot of books, but … I don’t think I like books as much as book-lovers do. When I was younger, there were a few books I would read and re-read and re-read. The one graphic novel was one of those, I read it at least once a year during my teens. Then there was that period where I wasn’t reading much, and since I began reading again, I haven’t had time. I feel like there aren’t enough hours in my life to spend them reading books I’ve already read. It’s hard to even spend 2 hours watching a film I’ve already seen, at this point; I built up a collection of over 300 DVDs before something happened in my mind and now I can only make time for films I’ve never seen – I probably only see two or three of my hundreds of owned-DVDs a year, despite watching at least several hundred hours of films and TV on DVD each year. The films I re-watch, even now… they’re the ones that I know will make me cry. And I’m up to a rate of reading over a hundred books a year, but it’s difficult for me to imagine wanting to re-read any of them. (Though I’ve just realized that there was one small thing in The Hunger Games that made me cry and which, when the sequel made an allusion to it, very nearly did – if I ever went back and re-read The Hunger Games, I might cry at the appearance of that loaf of bread again…) So maybe books *can* affect me as much as films, and I’m just reading the wrong books?
Anyhow… my favorite stories tend to be the ones where I become so emotionally involved that I am overcome, usually exemplified by the tears in my eyes. It occurred to me today for the first time (no, it never occurred to me before (though now that I’m thinking back on my own books in this context, I’m realizing that there were parts of Untrue Tales… Book Six which already did, which -over and over again as I read and re-read Book Six to edit it, and to record it for the podcast- brought me to that level of emotional involvement and, a few times, to tears)) that I might want to try, with the ‘utopian’ book of the duology I’m trying to ready myself for, to strive to reach that pinnacle. It’s been becoming, increasingly in my mind, a potentially very emotional story. This girl’s story is very difficult, a real challenge, and if the reader doesn’t buy fully into her experience of it, they won’t be able to believe the interpretation of reality I’m trying to present. I’m still not convinced I can write it in first-person perspective well enough; I haven’t the practice with first-person. (Though I suppose I’ve got to write in it to get better at writing in it, like anything else, so avoiding it because I’m not yet good means avoiding ever getting better.) Alternatively, I’m not sure I can create the required level of emotional involvement without using first-person perspective. Perhaps a narrower form of the narrow third-person perspective I normally use, which hovers close, practically over the shoulder of the protagonist, rarely venturing anywhere away. …but probably it’ll have to be first-person.
Perhaps spending half a year or more on ‘research’ (read: thinking about what I’m going to write before attempting to write it) wasn’t such a great idea; almost every time I resolve another aspect of what these books must be or what I’d like to attempt, the challenge increases. Doing better, doing things I’ve never tried, striving toward greatness… Perhaps without so much forethought I might be less disappointed with whatever result I end up with. Or perhaps with enough planning, with high enough goals and sufficient passion, I might achieve something worthwhile. The only thing to do is to keep working on it. Keep thinking. Keep dreaming. Keep striving. Keep feeling. Keep crying.
…and when the time comes, I suppose, try to make other people cry, too…