Monday, May 10, 2010

Three hanky reads...

Do you suffer when your characters suffer?

There is a little of me in all my characters—the good guys and the bad. Guess there has to be, since they all came from inside my head, lol!

But I have to say that one of the most fun parts of writing for me is seeing the badguy get his comeuppance. I love writing those scenes. I race through them, huddled over the keyboard, cackling with glee as he (or she) takes that final fall from grace.

So, no, I don't suffer then—but up to that point in the book, I suffer with ALL my characters, both good guys and bad guys. After all, we're all heroes in our own stories and I always try to give my badguys multiple chances to make the right choice, to do the right thing, to redeem themselves.

And that's really what all my books are about--something I've discovered only recently, so it may seem obvious already to my readers.  But my stories are all about people finding the courage to change the world.

Not just the good guys--the badguys as well.  They want to change the world in their way for their own (very strong--to them) reasons, but that puts them in opposition to the hero.

I'll admit it, sometimes I cry during some scenes as I write them. Usually not the big action scenes, but the smaller, quieter scenes reflecting emotional changes and choices in my characters.

Scenes when they realize they aren't the hero they thought they were. Scenes when choices between what's good for the person you love and what's good for the rest of the world are forced.

Moral dilemmas.  True love—when the right people get together for the right reasons after truly earning their happily ever after.

Self-sacrifice—I'm a sucker for self-sacrifice. And lately some of my secondary characters have been revealing themselves as true heroes with their sacrifices. (I can't give examples without spoilers, but wait until you read CRITICAL CONDITION!!!)

Excuse me while I go grab a hanky, sniff….meanwhile, what makes you cry when you read? C'mon, I can't be the only one!

Thanks for reading,

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. The fourth book, CRITICAL CONDITION, will be out December, 2010.  CJ's newest project is as co-author of the first in a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to


Jen Forbus said...

Oh CJ, I just finished listening to THE COLOR OF LAW. A friend told me I had to read it because she knew how much I love TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (which I cry over EVERY time I read it!). So, anyway, I got all choked up over THE COLOR OF LAW for the same reasons I did over TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but this book also brought out my anger. It deals with bullies and I hate nothing more than bullies. These people that think because they're stronger (whether physically, financially, socially, whatever) then they get to make the rules and live privileged over everyone else. I hate that!

Alright, back to crying. Craig Johnson is another one who can get me to cry, especially when he's illustrating elements of Walt's relationship with his daughter. Oh, just rips at my heart! Robert Crais' last book, THE FIRST RULE. I don't know how you couldn't cry at THAT ending.

Yee gads! I'm sounding like such a sap in this comment. I better not go any further. I'll just say that Kleenex will not go out of business as long as I keep reading! ;-)

CJ Lyons said...

Wow, Jen, I'm putting the Color of Law on my tbr list right now!!! TKM is my fav (well one of the top five) book, so I have to read this.

Thanks for the recc--glad you didn't put any spoilers in about First Rule, I haven't gotten to it yet...darn deadlines keep interfering with my reading fun, sigh....

Sophie Littlefield said...

i've never cried while writing a scene but i have in revisions, and that's when i know I have nailed the scene. And then i like to push it just a little further, rip the band-aid off and bash it again.

(which just reminded me of the year my son spent skateboarding...he was pretty much an unhealed splatter victim that entire year, but he kept going back for more. I think that's a great analogy for a well-paced emotional journey....)

CJ Lyons said...

Totally agree, Sophie! Isn't that why people enjoy fiction, for the emotional catharsis?

Love the analogy of ripping off the bandaid!!!

Gabi said...

Writing about people -- three dimensional, flawed, challenged, is what makes your books and this blog in particular so good. And I'm glad you're not doing a Camille when the bad guy finally gets his.

CJ Lyons said...

Oh yeah, I'll bet we all have fun giving our badguys what they deserve, Gabi--so much more fun than reading about what happens (or doesn't happen) to them in real life!

Unknown said...

When I'm reading, I'm a crying fool for Bambi scenarios (dead parent), loss, grief etc. Endless well of response for those.

When I'm writing, I had some scenes in the gay cowboy script, where the two lovers are practically shouting at each other across a great (metaphorical) divide, and can't hear each other. It made me cry every time in rewrites. Also when I wrote about a parent who lost a child in a literary short story.

Sometimes the suspense, or thwarted desire or whatever it is in that scene is so intense that I have to jump up from the keyboard and run around the house or take a walk to burn it off. Wish those moments came more often, actually ;)

CJ Lyons said...

Oh, Mysti, I love that feeling! When the emotion (any emotion) wells up to such an intensity that it forces you to find an outlet for it--I agree, wish there were more moments like that when I'm either reading or writing!

Dorte H said...

Writing excitement and murder very rarely make me suffer, but in my current manuscript, the protagonist loses her beloved father. That has made me cry even though I don´t describe his death as such. I can also feel very real anger when the bad guys are up to something.

CJ Lyons said...

Dorte--oh yes, loss of a loved one, can definitely tug the heartstrings...sounds like this ms of yours really hits deep, emotionally!

Terry Stonecrop said...

When you've experienced tragedy and deep emotion yourself, I think you can bring it to the page better than if you hadn't suffered. And it makes you cry because it brings back all the emotion of the time, which is often right below the surface anyway.

CJ Lyons said...

Good point, Terry! I think that emotional honesty is important because the reader feels when it's genuine versus when it's not.

Thanks for stopping by.

Shane Gericke said...

I know Good CJ from years of working with her at ThrillerFest and other ITW stuff, and from reading her books.

I wanna see Bad CJ. Bet she'd claw you to pieces if she wanted ... in writing or otherwise.

So c'mon, C, let your Inner Demon out to play!