Good Writing

Hey V here.  Like most writers, I read.  A lot.  Really a big lot.  Even with twin preschoolers, I read for fun everyday.  I’ve studied Literature; I’ve read a huge variety of things.  I’m confident that I can identify an author I like, one I consider to be a Good Writer.  Of course, Good Writing is a subjective thing.  Someone I think is a Good Writer might be considered absolute rubbish by another person.

But I like to find Good Writers for another reason, too, beyond enjoying the fruits of their labor.  Here’s today’s secret right up front: I like to figure out what it is about the writing that I think  is good, and hopefully emulate it.   To that end, I have hit a career goal this week. 

I made myself cry over a passage I wrote.

Now, many people who know me will think, duh, she cries at Hallmark commercials!  And those coffee commercials around the holidays where the college son comes home unexpectedly…I cry every time I watch Gone With The Wind, read Knuffle Bunny Free to my kids or hear a certain Christmas Carole about a cat who freezes to death warming a mouse on Christmas Eve.  Seriously, I have to skip it on the CD, can’t handle it at all.

My husband will attest that I cry at the most ridiculous movies, Wall-E, GI Jane, Return of the Jedi.  He actually keeps a box of tissues in the man-cave in case I need one watching something on the fancy TV.  And I cry reading books ALL THE TIME, usually late at night while lying in bed so that my nose stuffs up and dribbles attractively.  I often determine how much I like a book by its effect on me.  If I laugh out loud or cry, then it’s a good book.  If I do both, it’s a great book.

But I’d never made myself cry over something I wrote before.  I even went back and re-read the passage a few paragraphs later to see if it was a fluke and I squeaked out another tear.   I was so proud. 

How do you know that your writing is good stuff?

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8 thoughts on “Good Writing”

  1. I too recently have made myself cry reading something I wrote! And kept thinking what the hell is wrong with me. I’m not sure when I’m actually writing good stuff because I am really critical of my writing but when I go back and read my work and feel something, anything I start to think maybe this doesn’t suck.

  2. I’m a cryer too, V. I cracked up at the list above of things that make you cry, because most of them are on my list too. The real test for me, though–I know I’ve written something well when I still laugh or cry the thousandth time I read it.

  3. I so relate to your post. The first time that happened to me was when I was writing an assignment for a writing course. I couldn’t believe it, because I don’t cry that easily. But it connected with a childhood memory and probably an adult fear and the next thing I knew I was blubbering. Not sure it had the same effect on my teacher. LOL That’d be even cooler.

  4. Oh, I ask myself this question all the time. But I guess I would have to say I do the same as Paula. Read it over and over and if it still has the same effect, then that’s my cue. I try to put it down for a while though. Then after a couple weeks, I reread. Sometimes I floor myself. Like I’ll be reading, and my heart is racing, my emotions are flying, and I stop and say, “Wow, who wrote this? Oh, yeah, I did.” I guess there’s my answer.

  5. OK, I admit it. I bawl all the time. Sad stuff, happy stuff, inspirational stuff, you name it. I have tissues with me always, and I wear waterproof mascara because nearly anything can make me tear up. I’ve actually been known to see a couple of adorable kids in a store and cry — just because they are so cute! Once, I almost had to leave a wedding because I couldn’t stop crying (the groom included the bride’s young daughter in the ceremony — actually said vows to the girl that he would be a good father to her. He’s turned out to be even better than his word). That being said, this is an interesting post for me. I’ve never cried over anything I’ve written, which all tends to be lighthearted notwithstanding the fact that somebody nearly always dies 🙂 However, I do have a betrayal planned in my story arc that might just invoke some tears. We shall see. I just finished reading Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and that moved me. It ended the way I wanted it to/thought it would (although Suzanne Collins had me guessing right up to the end). So I guess those were tears of joy — the best kind! — but also of sadness because the story was over.

  6. Great post. Thank you for sharing. I think what makes a good book is one i cannot put down. Sometimes i want to peek going forward to see what’s coming b/c i can’t wait. But for my work, i don’t think my writing has pzazz yet, oh maybe there are a couple of scenes that might produce some empathy, but i have edited the pages so many times, i am numb.

  7. I’m not a cryer. There are only 2 books that made me cry; Outlander and Lad a Dog (when I was young).

    I think the jury is still out on whether I’m a good writer but a few days ago I began reading an ms of mine that I haven’t looked at in several months and was pulled right back into it. Maybe it means something. I hope so

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