Last Pages: a short story

I can’t claim full credit for this story. It was the product of a ‘what if’ conversation between a friend and I about diaries and writing and death. I knew at once I had to put it in a story at some point, and this was the result.

Coaching(6)

All they’d left were the books, dusty and stained with blood and tears.

Kyth stood among the rubble, tiny pebbles skittering around his boots in a hot wind. The sun glared from the pale, iron sky, unforgiving to any who ventured into this forgotten crevice.

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Do you really want to make your reader cry?

As writers, do we really want to make our readers cry?

Well yes. Of course. Why else do you write except to harvest those precious tears?

Yeeeaaaaahhhhhhh…

Or maybe not.

I’ll admit that reactions from my readers, especially to something heartbreaking, is… fun. I have convoluted ideas of fun, I know. Bear with me.

See, I have a theory (I do form those on my own, sometimes). The theory is this: making readers cry and breaking their hearts is not the point of writing. Crazy, I know. Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.make your readers cry

Very few books have made me cry. Movies, yes. Books… not so much. But there are two main ones that have. The end of Mockingjay and the end of the Wingfeather Saga. Yet the tears were for completely different reasons.

I cried near the end of Mockingjay because of the sheer sorrow of the main character. There was so much death. So much sorrow. There was no hope. No God. It was all a great, muddle mess and there seemed no way out. She’d gone through so much and there was… nothing.

The Wingfeather Saga was a completely different story (literally and figuratively). Possible spoilers ahead, so be careful. I’ll try to be vague. The end of that series did make me cry, but it wasn’t because of despair. There was heartbreaking sorrow, yes, but there was sacrifice. It was the culmination of learning to give one’s self for another. There was hope and light, even in the pain.

Which brings me back to making readers cry.

Now tears (generally) mean readers have connected with your characters. They feel for them. They love them. And when a reader has connected emotionally to a character, then it means we’ve done our job well.

But pain needs to have a point. Suffering and death builds up characters, drives the plot forward, and plays out in theme and arcs. Frankly, almost anything can be done when one has theme as an excuse. But when planning pain, always keep the focus in mind. (I mean… assuming people actually sit down and figure out a heart-wrenching scene first, then figure out how it fits into a story. Not like I’ve ever done that. Ever.)

You’re showing the trials a character must go through to get what is right. You are showing how good can stand up through evil. You are showing hope and light in the darkness of time. Giving readers feels is great. But don’t just randomly add death and torture for no reason except feels.

Focus on the point of your story. Use pain to bring across your point, if needed (I mean, who really wants to read about a hero who has no trouble reaching his goal), but don’t focus solely on what you can do to upset a reader. There is hope in life. Keep hope in your writing, no matter how dark it might get.

In the end, you only need to remember a simple guideline:

Don’t be afraid to break your reader’s heart. Just make sure there is a point. And put their heart back together again by the end of the book.

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Between Two Worlds: the danger of writing

Writing isn’t safe.

It’s not that words are powerful (though they are). It’s not that everyone will end up thinking you insane (most generally do anyway).
It’s a deeper problem than a questionable mental state.

And it’s something I end up writing as a free verse poem around the end of last year because there was no other way to put it into words.

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Free Verse: The Dawn

I’ve never considered myself a poet. I don’t know the first thing about poetry or writing it. But a few months back I picked up a pen and started writing. It was emotion, mainly. Just feelings I shaped into words and ended up being free verse poems. The results surprised me.

I still don’t write much poetry. It’s not something I can just sit down and do. I have to feel something, and then I might write about it and it might turn into something somewhat cool. But here is one of the first free verse poems I wrote while riding home on the train from Pittsburgh.

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You don’t have to be the best – and that’s okay

I wrote this out of a struggle I had, and still have. Just because I’m writing an article doesn’t mean I have it figured out. I still have to remind myself of the things I know in my head time and time again…

See, I want everything I create to be perfect; I always have. I love reading well-written books. I sometimes ‘hate’ them at the same time, because I wonder how I can ever write as well and make as big an impact with my own writing. It’s not pride issue of wanting to be better than others. Rather, it’s the desire to create stories and characters and themes that touch lives and to do it in the best way possible. If someone has done it better than me, then that means I can get better. And if I can get better, that means I wasn’t good enough.

Right?

But eventually, I realized I didn’t have to be the best.

And that it was fine.

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Beyond the Parchment: Part 13

Welcome to the next installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment. Only one more left!

Thus far, dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually began to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world. General maham is the result. Check out the rest of the story here!

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Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Fear Clichés

“That just… sounds cliché.”

Four words every writer cringes at. We have so many ideas. We try so hard. And then someone comes along and tells us it is cliché. Commonplace. And we wonder how on earth we’re going to fix our story when everything seems to have been done already.

If you read a lot or watch any number of movies, you’ll recognize a number of clichés on sight. The dashing prince rescues the helpless princess. The mentor dies and his student goes on to save the world. The villain dresses in a long black cape and carries a pet snake on a staff.

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Beyond the Parchment: Part 12

Welcome to the next (and third from last) installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment. Because I finally outlined the end and I only have two more parts to write!

Thus far, dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually began to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world. General maham is the result. Check out the rest of the story here!

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Is Clean Christian Writing a Good Thing?

Lying, murder, torture, assassinations, lust — as Christians called to be a light in the world, should we touch on these darker aspects of life in our writing or should our books be clean and full of light? Should a character swear? Is it wrong to have a character be immoral? What about the sympathetic thieves or the hardened interrogators? As Christians, we want to write inspiring stories. But is an inspiring story the same thing as a squeaky clean story, and what does ‘clean Christian writing’ even mean?

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Beyond the Parchment: Part 11

Welcome to the next installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment

So far we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.

Anyway, you can check out links for the first ten sections here if you haven’t read them yet. *smirks* Have fun.

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