I just watched that scene in Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond's mother reads his diary from when he was fourteen years old. Everyone's angry until Marie tells Ray why she's so upset. Ray's wife comes in and gets mad that Ray apologized for what he'd written so long ago. She thinks Marie should be the one apologizing.
I sat there thinking as I watched this scene that there was something decidedly wrong with me because I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I must be hormonally unbalanced! Maybe it was that I too have a teenager who I'm sure hates me at times. And then I realized what it was that got to me. Great writing. Yep. That's it. Great writing is writing that elicits intense emotional reaction. What qualifies as a good book? For me, it's anything that makes me bust up laughing, creates tears of happiness or heartache, or even tears of fear. It's anything that produces an unbearable ache in my chest or an overwhelming desire to read more.
This scene in ELR will touch anyone who has ever raised a teenager, or who is about to. What makes shows so popular is that we can relate to them. They stir up our emotions. Here is a bit of the scene between Marie and Debra. I wish I could have found a video clip (I searched and searched) but alas, no luck.
Marie: Let me ask you something, Debra. Have you ever had any doubts as a mother?
Debra: Of course, Marie, but—
Marie: No, I mean serious doubts. I mean, do you have any idea what it's like having a husband who doesn't help you at all?
Debra: (understands) Go on.
Marie: And then when you try to go to him for support, he only enhances those doubts? That was my life. Now imagine little Michael, who loves you, who lights up whenever you get near him. Now imagine him at 15, and he doesn't talk to you anymore. And you don't want to push him, so you just give him more love. Then one night, you make his favorite dinner and try to give him a kiss good night, and he goes up the stairs with a grunt. Then one day, you come across his journal, and you open it, and it reads "I hate my mom." I wouldn't wish that on you, Debra.
After this scene, Debra turns to Ray and demands that he apologize again. Everything turns to laughter, but before that, it's heart wrenching and real. There was more to the scene that brought on the tears, but I couldn't find all the dialogue, but you get the gist of it.
This brings me to an important question. Have you ever cried while writing a scene in your book? I have. I sobbed clear through one of the last scenes in my book, The Eye of Tanúb. Granted, that was a long time ago. I have since re-written and re-worked that scene many times. But the first time I wrote it, I cried and KNEW in my heart it was perfect, and that it would never need to be edited. Of course, I was wrong, but the point here is this. We need our readers to feel that emotion. We need to get it on paper so when they so finally read it, they feel it--just as intensely as we did when it first left our fingertips.