Pretty sure I've mentioned on here that my son is serving a mission for the LDS church in S. Korea right now. And having an awesome time serving the Lord and growing, as he does! I'm really proud of him, and often miss him...but haven't really cried about it. At all. Recently this subject, of whether and why some moms of missionaries cry and others don't, came up in a FB group I'm a part of. And it got me thinking about--you guessed it--my characters. Do they cry? Why, or why not? And how do I know?
For me, the best character research/history includes a flash piece from the character's life prior to to the novel's starting. Usually this moment is pivotal, and may constitute any 'baggage' of the emotional kind that the character will need to explore during the duration of the novel. But, it's also a slice of life, meaning it's a moment that was unplanned and shows them embedded in their regular life. For example, if someone were to write a flash piece focused on Thor (from the Marvel movies) they might show a moment when he and Loki were doing something together that brought them closer, and this flash back would constitute the moment in the writer's mind which explained Thor's patience with his younger brother and his desire to see the good in Loki no matter how misplaced that faith. Then again, maybe it would be a moment when the two brothers were doing something routine with their mother, and she talked with them both about how important they were to her, and asked them to always stand by each other and have each other's backs. Thor, being the noble type, would try to hold true to that no matter what came.
*Que gratuitous pic of Thor*
However the scene or flashback is written, I think it's a pretty good indicator of whether or not a character will be the kind to cry in the 'present' novel. When I picture certain characters having their pivotal moment...say, Mary Stuart, eldest daughter of King Henry the Eighth, it's impossible to separate tears from the moment. Whether shed or not, the tears are there. But, on the other hand, many characters are difficult to imagine crying, and I get the feeling any tears that would be shed would be at an odd moment and appear unprovoked. This is true of the two main characters I'm working with in my present wip. Since it's a scifi middle grade with plenty of adventure, perhaps that's not surprising. But, sometimes adventure types could also shed tears. After all, while it would take just the right set of circumstances, I could see Thor crying. A bit, anyway. And perhaps I can see that for him because I can also visualize a flashback in which he shed tears.
What do you think? Can a character's tendency to cry--or not--in past events tell you anything about their reactions now, or who they are as a person? Which type of character would you rather write about?