Monday, April 30, 2012

Emotional characters

After my weekend, my emotions are all over the place. I had a great one with my family. With writing--not so much, and I'm not going to go into detail. Do you cry during movies, books or TV shows? If so, what makes you cry?

C'mon admit it. The character, the story  . . . maybe the combo. Before I was a mom, I didn't cry much at anything. I wasn't a very emotional person. Okay, maybe a depressed one, but entertainment usually didn't make me cry. After I had my monsters, I can cry when a butterfly lands on a flower. Sometimes, I have no control. There are certain movies that I watch over and over and I cry like a baby (How To Train Your Dragon and Tangled). Seriously, I cry. But why?

The writer created a character with emotion. Something they did plucked an emotional string in my head. Sure, in movies there are factors of dramatic music and the actors voice, but somehow they pulled you in and made you care.

There is a book that turned on my waterworks--THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. You may have heard of it. The thing is--I love books with voice. Lots of voice. I loved being pulled in to see what this character sees, to feel what they feel. Yes, it must be technical (follow the grammar and plot rules), but without voice and emotion, there's nothing but scenes flipping like a slideshow. So what did John Green do?

He made me care about the character. He gave that character emotion. He showed us what she felt by making us feel it (making me cry). Complicated? Yes. To write emotion is not easy. Trust me, I'm still working on it. You have to put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself how would they react at that moment? Feel it.

I haven't found the right formula, but I'm getting there.

Check out this link for some info:
 The Writers go here to check out the post on The Emotional and Psychological World of You and Your Characters


Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress

Do you have any thoughts on creating character emotions?

Any self help guides of web pages you would recommend?

Have a great day!


  1. Oh my goodness, I'm such a total baby. I cry during movies, books, tv shows, everything. I try to stay away from that stuff as much as possible. It's the sad things that make me cry. Like if someone dies, gets hurt (emotional or physically), etc.

    Funny thing, though, I can kill off people in a book I'm writing or hurt them in a million different ways and never blink. :-)


  2. I cry at everything. And that includes Kleenex commercials. Sad huh? My kids get entertained seeing movies with me. I cry at them all. Including the movie previews.

    I work heard at writing emotions. It's my favorite part about writing. I have to check out the link. Thanks.

  3. I cry a lot. Everyone teases me, but if I see someone else crying, I will start myself. I guess it's because I've been through a lot in life, and I have a huge amount of empathy because of it.

    I don't want to sound presumptious, but I think I could even go so far as to say I have become pretty adept at funneling all of that excess emotion out of myself, and pouring it out into the characters I create. I kind of consider this a tiny bonus for being such an overly emotional person!

    Thanks for the link and this post-I'm excited to go check it out.

  4. I suppose this is why The Hunger Games is such a sensation...
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  5. My first book made many readers cry so I guess I did something right.

  6. I cried a ton at How to Train Your Dragon! Great post. :)

  7. There are some passages in certain books that make me cry no matter how often I read them. And since a couple of them are books that I use with my fifth grade class, it can get embarrassing. I warn them in advance: "Mrs. Salerni might bawl today. Be prepared."

    Here's an example from The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck: "You could have knocked us over with feathers. Flop Ears had captured us all in his notebook. And we were so real, we almost strolled off the page. We'd gotten him wrong. He wasn't a dunce. He was an artist. According to these pages, he saw us all a good deal clearer than we'd ever seen him."

    Bwa-a-a-a-ah! Makes me tear up even typing it.