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Do your characters posses emotion? (1 Viewer)

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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I don't mean do they experience emotions, of course they do, but do they posses their emotions, or their emotions posses them?

It is easy to see with the strong emotions, love, fear, hatred etc. , but it can extend to the smallest feelings.
'He was annoyed by an itch'
'An itch was annoying him'

Do you think your characters reflect your way of dealing with the world? "My characters possess their emotions and so do I", or do you think that different characters have different approaches. The obvious presumption might be that the weak were possessed and the strong possessive, but I can see all sorts of exceptions and variants.

Is it something you would consider taking into account when writing or editing, or would that be micro management? My own view is that if I maintain awareness of such things for a while they become an automatic part of me.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
As it is with all people, there are times when emotions can overwhelm my characters. In one of my novels a pacifist goes on a killing spree when his lover is killed by a religious cult, but this sort of thing happens in them all. Emotion very often drive an activity.

Maybe I don't understand your question, because for me, the answer is obvious.
 

codyrobi613

Senior Member
I think that we all interact with emotion differently. Some people are driven by it, others only experience it. Or to bring personality typing into it (which is how I'm experimenting with framing my characters) people tend to lean more on feeling or thinking (logic) when making decisions.

There is a book of liturgies called every day holy. One of the liturgies is for fiction writers in which part of the prayer is "help me bring these characters to life". That stuck with me. We are all very different people who experience ourselves and the world differently.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Depends on what you, the writer, is trying to portray.

Not every character is strong or self-aware. Just like in real life, some people are controlled by their emotions while others own their feelings and actions.

This reminds me of passive voice discussions.
 

Mutimir

Senior Member
This is an excellent topic to think about. When thinking about this I'm using a different word, control. I think the ability or inability to control emotions can be great for character development and depth. It also is excellent way to create conflict and move the plot along.
 

Greyson

Senior Member
i think it'll depend on two things mainly:

1. how do emotions interact with your story? is it driven by emotions? then they'll take
more of a front seat in the character's mind, and you might see them being controlled by them more

2. your metaphysical conception of emotions: how do you believe emotions interact with us
in real life? are they controllable, or merely observable? and, then, how well trained is your character
in either case?
 

Tiamat

Patron
I think the main way your reader is going to experience emotion from your writing is if your characters do. Not that they necessarily need to rage and mourn and seethe and such *all* the time, but I think if your objective is to emotionally impact your reader, your characters should feel things. I don't think I'm smart enough to write something purely intellectually engaging, so my characters tend to feel things in my work. Gotta work with the tools you've got, amirite? :lol:
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
I steal your cheese and wee in your tea. What emotions do you and I experience?
I don't mean do they experience emotions, of course they do, but do they posses their emotions, or their emotions posses them?

It is easy to see with the strong emotions, love, fear, hatred etc. , but it can extend to the smallest feelings.
'He was annoyed by an itch'
'An itch was annoying him'

Do you think your characters reflect your way of dealing with the world? "My characters possess their emotions and so do I", or do you think that different characters have different approaches. The obvious presumption might be that the weak were possessed and the strong possessive, but I can see all sorts of exceptions and variants.

Is it something you would consider taking into account when writing or editing, or would that be micro management? My own view is that if I maintain awareness of such things for a while they become an automatic part of me.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I think I get where you're going. In my last complete novel, the MC learned of the tragic death of his well-regarded step-father in a meeting. As I wrote the scene, he couldn't control his tears. Suspension of the meeting was offered, but he declined. To me, it was the character's honest reaction, but it was a slam dunk. It choked me up. It made my wife's eyes turn red. Fish in a barrel.

In my WIP, I'm doing what I believe you're addressing, Olly. It's first person. A character the MC often interacts with is his intellectual superior by a wide margin, and he knows it. I'm having him often annoyed or embarrassed by responses to the character he realizes are obvious or trite. However, he can't help himself. He responds in conversation as people do, then rolls his eyes at his own latest dialogue. Even worse for him, he sometimes realizes it before he speaks, then can't improve on his initial notion anyway. Hopefully, I'm playing it for comic effect, but the MC's experience of this is real to him.

At other times, characters with more competence for certain tasks are upstaging him. He accepts this, but isn't comfortable with it.

Few people are dispassionate, and a good percentage of those who are, are sociopaths. I don't write many scenes without some nod to character emotion. In interactions, we're generally interested, bored, amused, cheered, or troubled in some way. I try to indicate those experiences. Bored is valid. Back when I tried out beta readers, I once had one tell me that my MC couldn't be bored, because that would bore the reader. It's nonsense, and that was one of the reasons I dropped beta readers. Boredom for the MC is a trial as valid as any other, and readers are as anxious to find out how the MC overcomes it as for any other trial.
 
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