Anyone that has ever cried while consuming some type of media knows the exact moment their emotional wall breaks down. Some people try to hold it back but the pressure keeps building and building until eventually the whole thing bursts, which usually equates to copious amounts of tears 🙂
The funny thing is that there are certain triggers that can cause the wall to break without much pressure at all. Take my wife for example. If we watch a TV show & there is even a hint that an animal is suffering or in trouble she freezes in place and tears are never far behind. Her biggest weakness is a male crying. If we watch a TV show or movie and there is middle aged father crying she loses it completely. I know that is a very specific scenario but without fail every time it knocks down her emotional wall.
I am sure a psychologist would have a field day looking into why certain triggers cause certain people to break down, but I find it just as interesting as a writer. Everyone is different but there are universal triggers out there that can cause an emotion to automatically manifest. If you can discover these triggers and masterfully integrate them into you story then you can give your novel quite the powerful punch.
Also since I kind of threw my wife under the bus I guess I should admit to what quirky thing causes my emotional barriers to crumple into a thousand pieces. Young teenagers who have had a tough life but give back to the community in a meaningful way, sounds cheesy I know. There is something about a person who has had so many things go against them but still finds a way to overcome it, be a good person, and give back that causes my eyes to leak all over the place.
Now that I have embarrassed myself what breaks down your emotional wall?