Along with other generic gestures, crying is a crutch that can sink a novel. Particularly in children’s novels, some writers turn their characters into blubbering messes at the slightest provocation.
I know, because I am one of those writers! When I wrote early drafts of Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, the characters cried way too much and my editor had to push me to use crying much more sparingly.
Even in adult novels it can become a crutch, and many characters’ eyes become misty or well with tears at drop of a hat.
Why avoid crying? Well, it’s pretty simple. Crying is one of our most extreme emotional responses as humans, and so… it needs to be extreme in a novel too. If it’s used too much, crying stops possessing any particular meaning.
A good rule of thumb: Just as with the other generic gestures, a character probably shouldn’t cry more than once or twice in an entire novel.
Don’t use crying as a crutch. Only show a character crying when they have really, truly lost it.
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Art: Madonna di Campagna a Verbania by Maestro di san Rocco a Pallanza