I’m going to admit something here that few men are willing to cop to. At least publicly.
I cry sometimes.
Yes, I know. You look at that handsome, macho photo of me on the left of your screen — the one that says, he’s all man (come on, keep looking, you’ll find it), and you’ll have a hard time believing that that particular hunk of granite ever cried a day in his life.
But it’s true. I cry sometimes.
In fact, not only do I cry — I outright blubber.
If you happened to be anywhere near me in the theater as I watched The Joy Luck Club or Awakenings or Sophie’s Choice, you undoubtedly had to dig through your (or your wife’s) handbag and pull out an umbrella. I’m talking deep, wracking sobs. The kind you try so hard to keep in because you’re embarrassing the hell out of yourself. But you can’t. Because the movie is just so damn sad.
A woman writer friend once said to me, "Rob, what I’ve noticed about your books is that they’re chock full of emotion. A lot of thrillers written by men are more about events than feelings."
I think it was a compliment. At least, I certainly hope it was. And her words stuck with me because, to my mind, the best books, the best stories, the best movies, the best songs — are all about feelings. Love. Fear. Sadness. Joy. And the more we know about how a character is feeling, the more we can identify with that character. The more we become invested in his or her story.
There’s no better way to get to know the people around us than to find out what makes them laugh or cry or gets them angry or sends them dancing in the streets or forces them to scream in terror. These moments usually hit without warning — an unrehearsed reaction triggered by the unexpected — and when we experience them, we are revealing our naked, unvarnished selves to the world.
The ability — or inability — to turn on the water works at the appropriate (or inappropriate) time, tells us a lot about our friends and family. And the same goes for the characters we create.
And because emotion is so universally understood, crossing all cultural and religious boundaries, utilizing it in our stories is a good way to draw readers in. To make them care about and believe in our creations.
So when he’s caught in a firefight, I’m less concerned about what type of gun my hero is shooting than I am about what he’s feeling when he shoots it. About the adrenaline pumping through him, about his concern for the woman or child or friend that he’s protecting or trying to save. And if he’s faced with a devastating loss, I confess that I feel that loss as much as he does — and will often find myself crying at the keyboard as I write the scene.
Yes, it’s true. And I’m sure I’m not the only writer in this crazy crowd who experiences this.
So you readers and writers out there, tell me what makes you cry. What song, what movie, what book brings on tears so strong you find yourself sobbing. We all have at least one.
I have several. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
A couple of weeks back I played a video created by Tess and me for Thrillefest Arizona. A couple of you had guesses to the solution of the mystery and one of you actually got it right. Here’s the entire video now, from start to finish, with the solution intact.
The winner, who will know who he is, can email me at rob at robertgregorybrowne.com, or simply click on my name above, hit "email me" on my website and fill in the blanks.
Here it is: