How to Write a Crying Scene


Part 1

1. What is the character crying about and is the character alone or with friends and family? How about with strangers? How about in front of animals?

A. What does the character do to feel this way? Do they have a support system? Where are they?
I. Was it a breakup, did someone die, did they get bad grades, does it have to do with something significant in their life?
II. Depending on the content of the scene itself it should be obvious to the reader exactly why they are crying — whether it’s from remorse, frustration, pain, relief, joy, etc or even a combination of reasons —
III. Grieving, whether we like to admit it or not, isn’t a choice. Some grieve in private, some with loved ones, some in front of complete strangers.

B. Do they feel un/comfortable crying where they are, if so, how does the reader know?
I. Do they have to look over their shoulders every couple of seconds, do they have shivers, can they cry without any pause, can they lean on someone’s shoulder?
II. Where did they go to feel at peace? Bedroom, bathroom, the place of the incident? Describe it.
III. Do they have any aides? For instance, they may listen to music or hold a stuffed animal. Maybe a locket or item that they treasure. If so, how does their aide make them feel? Do it calm them down? Make them cry hard or faster? Bring in memories?
C. Is the character watching someone cry? Is the character crying with someone else? Is the character crying about something that they’ve cried about before? Do the tears mean anything?
I. How are the onlookers behaving? Do they feel like crying too? Do they know why that person is crying? Do they know that person? What feelings are happening inside them? What actions do they feel like taking?
II. Most people cry alone unless they’ve known the other crying individual for a good while. Mainly to avoid showing weakness. The character may feel like they have to be strong for the people around them, and if they fail to be strong then everything in their life will fall apart. It’s about control.


Part 2

2. What memories, actions, ideas, or even other emotions come out while the character’s crying?

A. Are they getting deja vu? Do the memories while crying actually begin to make them happy or even laugh? Does it make them angry? Does it make them cry more or even longer?
I. Do they feel like they did this before? Are they crying for the third time in a row? Do they feel like the problem never can be solved so they have to keep crying? Have they cried in that same place before? Maybe that’s where the tragic thing happened and they returned to that place to cry.
II.  A few memory examples for your crying scene:

  • When the character miss them so much and the realization s/he isn’t there with the character anymore, they cry
  • When the character thinks of them and the thought brings a smile to their face.
  • When you have something that she gave you, like the bracelet and you are thinking of her, wear it, or take it out.
  • When their heart hurts too much and they feel they can’t take it any longer; maybe find something to do to help ease the pain.
  • Do they blame anyone, or punish anyone for their actions?


B. While crying does the character get motivated to do something? Does the character have to do anything while crying? Does the character stop doing whatever they were doing in order to cry? How does this action affect the overall scene or story?
I. Do they feel like helping someone else out, do they feel like changing their life around, do they feel like going back in time to prevent something from happening, do they make a promise to themselves?
II. Crying does not solve your problems but it makes you destroy the feeling of the disappointment or anger and then “motivates” you to get over it somehow. Describe this process with your character. Write about how they need to begin taking action to get their life back on track.
C. While crying we sometimes do the best thinking. Are there any thoughts or dilemmas or inventions that the character thinks of to improve their life? Does the character have an awakening while crying? Do they cry themselves to sleep? If so what do they dream about?
I. Do they figure out a way to get over that hurdle? Do they figure out a way to avoid something bad from happening? Can they connect the dots easier? Almost like a puzzle. In desperation, our mind thinks at a rapid pace.
II. Think a mini enlightenment when regarding crying a lot. Certain phases of the mental, spiritual and physical life open up. The character’s consciousness of the problems and their solutions are being shown or expressed better. Almost as if the character is being “shown the way”, and it is an inner awakening that they are now ready for.

Part 3

3. What is the crying accomplishing?

A. Are their tears magical and should be collected in a bottle for safe keeping? Does the crying help them to meditate or release anger or even com them? Is the crying fake and intended to not be taken seriously? Maybe it’s foreplay or an acting part. Maybe it’s to get someone to do something for them manipulatively.
I. Is there any magic involved with the crying? Anything?
II.Crying is an important emotional release; our tears release a variety of substances, depending on our reason for crying. Also, crying releases endorphins into our bloodstream – those are “feel-good” hormones, and they’re one of the reasons that plenty of people say they feel better after “having a good cry. It certainly beats swallowing our pain or letting it build up.


B. Does their crying help someone else out? Does the crying prevent them from doing something? Was this all planned? How long must they cry for? Are they able to cry that long?
I. Does someone else see them cry and get inspired? Does someone else see them crying and realize they should learn from that person’s mistake? Does crying help to see the trueness of the character who is crying? If someone didn’t believe them in the first place or had no sympathy maybe they do now.    
II.  Does the person ignore it and moved on or stop and ask “Is everything okay? Do you need help?” It may depend on where your character is at the time, and what the person is doing.
III. There is no rule book that says a character has to stop crying in the next 10 days or what not. Give them free reign over their emotions.
C. How are they feeling midway? Must the tears be rejuvenated somehow? Are they still able to let out tears? Crying doesn’t necessarily require tears the entire time? So what else are they doing while crying, such as sound, gesture or reactions?
I. Can they cry no more even though they want to or try to? Do they moan while crying? Do they scream?
II.  A character simply wiping their eyes is enough to convey that they are crying. As is bowing their head and their shoulders trembling. Or snuffling/a red nose and a shift in their breathing pattern. More frequent blinking and damp/glossy eyes can suggest they are about to start crying while bloodshot/puffy eye(lid)s suggests that they already have. 
III.Depends on what they’re crying is for….. upset/sad is usually quieter possibly shorter, and maybe harder to let out like a sob. If they’re hurt it’s louder, longer, and easier to let out,  especially if they are in lots of physical pain.

Part 4

4. How long does the character cry and what are they doing while they’re crying?

A. Write about how much time has passed, or what has happened since they started crying, or what they have been able to do since they started crying. And please note that the crying doesn’t have to happen just in the scene. If you want it expanded throughout your story or have breaks throughout the scene you can do that. Sometimes crying isn’t straight through, sometimes we take breaks when we cry. Crying can extend over a long amount of time such as years or months.  
I.  With time, they will cry less, and still remember the good/bad times.On average the grieving process takes from 2-5 years. It also depends on how busy the person is. If they bury themselves in work, they may prolong grieving.  Don’t carry your emotions it will make it worse. Not thinking about, or truly experiencing and dealing with grief will only mean that the person will have to face it at a later date.
II. It is not the relation of the person to you that determines the length of the mourning process. The important qualifier is the depth of the relationship. Which means that if a person were not especially close to their Grandmother and were very close to a friend, one would grieve longer for the friend.
B. Talk about the character healing. Talk about the mindset of the character as they are finishing their cry. Talk about the health of the character. Last but not least talk about the hope of the character while they cry or when they’re taking a break from crying.
I. Even when dealt with appropriately, there are some losses that will be grieved over and over again throughout a lifetime. Example: when a child loses a parent the grieving can continue as the child matures and is able to process the loss. This can continue throughout life as the adult child revisits the loss.
II. What burden do they now carry? How much more heavier or lighter has it gotten? What direction must they go to avoid breaking down even more? If they don’t do what’s needed for their well-being, will their body handle it?
C. Anything can make them sad. Anything can remind them of why they cried in the first place. So if the character takes a break from crying maybe add in some triggers that will make them feel sad again. Also, how do they cope with these triggers so they don’t look like a crybaby to their friends family and acquaintances?
I. Triggers can be anything from a word, phrase, actions, or simply a random noise that has nothing to do with why they are sad in the first place. Our minds can do some amazing things and it can build connections to things not yet realized. What is your character(s) trigger? Have they learned to manage it yet?

II. What mechanism do they use to keep their minds in check? Do they use counting techniques, a habit (smoking, bitting nails, etc), possibly even someone to slap or pinch them when they are becoming sad again? This can potentially add comedic value to your scene. In desperation, we go to great legnths to look normal. How does your character do that, if at all?

Part 5

5. How does the scene end? Is the character continuing to cry? Does the crying get worse? Or do they stop crying all together?

A. Does character stop crying? If so, did they stop it on their own? How did they do that? What hope do they have? And is this the final cry for the situation or problem?
I. What changed and why? How did they get this will power?
II. Are they crying for good reason or because they want to prove someone or something wrong? Can the crying stop immediately or does it progressively stop over the course of minutes, hours or even days?
B. Does someone help them stop crying? Who is this person? It doesn’t always have to be someone they know, it could also be a stranger? Do they see someone else crying and join them for a finale cry?
I. Is this helper welcomed? How does this person break through the barriers the character has put up? What similarities or experience does this person have? How can they be a guide or teacher for your character to grow? In other words, what are their qualifications?
II. Does the character join in crying with someone? Are they faking it? Maybe they don’t cry but give sympathy. Is it fake or real sympathy?
C. Do they continue to cry? How do they start picking themselves up after they stopped crying? If they continue to cry what will their life become? Will it ruin their life to continue to cry? Or will it improve their life somehow?
I. Afterwards, they may feel really calm. The problems wouldn’t seem so bad anymore, and they won’t be so negative toward their self. Physically, the various aches, pains, and tension will disappear almost like a full-body massage.
II. Describe how their life will change if they cannot overcome this grief. You can either show it in a vision, through conversation or through the scene in real time.
III. How has the stage in live improved them? What makes them a better, more stronger person?


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