How can I describe my characters feelings? - Anonymous
Since your characters aren’t exactly real people your readers can talk to and get to know in real-life manners, their feelings and emotions and thoughts are what lets your readers connect with them. These things are what make your characters as real as possible, what gives them depth, which will determine whether your readers will root for them or hope for them to fail. Therefore, this is something you shouldn’t neglect. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to display your characters’ feelings and emotions in your writing.
- Show Don’t Tell. Biological Responses. One way of letting your readers know about how your characters are feeling is by using biological responses we have all felt. For instance, if you mention that your character’s heart rate increased after seeing or hearing something, your readers will understand your character is afraid of something. There are other ways of using this method to show your characters’ feelings, but by using biological responses to certain emotions you are using the readers’ past experience with their own emotions to connect and relate to your characters. Here, you’ll learn about the role biology plays in our emotions. However, if we’re describing a character we have no “inside information” on - a character whose biological responses we don’t know -, we refer to their physical displays of emotion. People are likely to clench their teeth in anger, open their mouths in astonishment, etc.
- Use different words. There are many different words you can use to depict your character’s state of mind. If you keep using the same ones, you risk them losing their meaning or going weak. If all your characters are described as “happy” when something happens, your reader will lose sense of the different levels of importance different events have for your characters. Therefore, if you are going to refer to single words in order to display emotions/feelings, do so using different words. You can find a list of words to use when describing feelings here.
- Dialogue. People will speak differently depending on how they are feeling. When you’re really excited about something, you’re likely to speak in a fast manner, skipping some words, repeating others… whereas when you’re worried or afraid you’re likely to have an incoherent speech, stop yourself mid-sentence, speak with little “hmms” and pauses…
- Your characters’ actions. The things we do say a lot about what we’re feeling. If your character is angry while walking into a room, he’s likely to slam the door shut; if he’s happy when he gets home, he’s more likely to go and greet everyone than to go hide in his room.
- Create habits for your characters. We all have different habits and while some things we do might not mean much to people on the outside, those who know us can often tell how we’re feeling by what we are doing or the way we do it. Some people only smoke when they’re stressed, and if you introduce your character to your reader as someone like this, they’ll be able to assume, when your character lights up a cigarette, that he’s stressed. Make sure your readers know about these habits before you having to use them, or else it will be less effective. (For instance, if your character only smokes when he’s stressed, have another character offer him a cigarette and then have him decline it with the explanation that he only smokes when he’s stressed). This is something that can really work, specially if the first time this habit is introduced is done in a subtle, but effective way.
Below, you’ll find some articles on the matter that might help you:
I am sitting at my computer screen with my mouth open, because I just cannot fathom how someone writes something this amazing.
two kinds of people
There are a lot of things that go into creating a super powered being, and all of them can be boiled down to two words: back story. You have to decide what power they have, how they got it, when it showed up, and a million other things before actually writing out the good parts. However, developing the super hero (or villain) is a bit more complicated.
The first thing to do with the development of a super is to teach them how to use their power. This can be a lot of fun because it gives you the chance to have your character make a lot of mistakes. The character is brand new to this and has no idea what the limits to this power are, or even if there are limits. So this is your chance to have them turn invisible in the middle of a first date, tear their car door off, or burn down the model airplane they’ve been working on forever. Teaching your character how to use their power can also help develop the super as a character. It helps to show how they handle different situations, or how they think about the world and the people in it.
The important thing to remember about super heroes and villains is that deep down they’re still human. They have the same wants, needs and motives as anyone else: love, greed, sympathy, anger, etc. However, what makes them interesting is the fact that they have power. They have abilities that no one else has, and that’s where writing these characters gets really interesting. Once the character has these powers (and knows how to use them) the logical next step is to make the “big decision.” Are they a hero or a villain. In comic books the decision to be a hero or a villain is almost always made after a major life event. This can be the death of a loved one, being framed for a crime, sometimes even after the character’s own death. What the writer has to think about is how the character deals with the particular event. This is just like any character development, but with the addition of powers. This may not seem like a huge addition, but it is, and this is because it gives a lot of possibilities for a reaction scene.
After any huge life event a person is going to feel a very strong emotion or maybe a bundle of emotions they can’t easily untangle. The trick to this part is figuring out how the power plays into it. When people are sad they cry, then they’re scared they scream and run away, when they’re happy they jump up and down, however, these aren’t just ordinary people. The tricky part (and often the fun one) is to figure out how the power reacts to this emotional cacophony. There’s a ton of different ways to do anything and the best part is it’s all up to you.
Intersection. The entries should overlap with each other. This keeps everyone/everything relevant. You can intersect the stories in three ways:
- The characters know each other and mention each other,
- The journal entries share a common theme,
- The journal entries all center on an event that all writers are tied to. Point 3 can overlap with point 1, but doesn’t need to.
Voice. It’s very important to keep your characters distinct so that they appear as four separate characters instead of four facets of a single one. Journal entries are the most personal expressions you can have. Don’t be afraid to make up abbreviations or slang (explain them to the reader, of course) or mildly break English conventions to add character.
A big part of voice is viewpoint bias. How the character perceives the world will not line up with how the world is. Please let the character be wrong several times. The consequence of being wrong doesn’t need to be disastrous; it could be good. But by developing four biases, you’ll have an easier time writing four different journal entries.
A thing I like doing - and probably wouldn’t be preserved if you decided to publish - is using custom fonts that suit the character’s handwriting. It helps with the characterization.
Time. It takes awhile to write or type a long journal entry. The longer it is, the more time it takes. Obvious, right? Not to some journal writers, who have their characters dashing down twenty frantic lines between searching for their love interest and killing the Dark Lord. Your character probably doesn’t have time for that. They need to find the Sword of Jriso before midnight, talk to unicorns, arrange murders, and a whole laundry list of way more important things than recording how afraid they are. If your character is busy, they aren’t going to have a lot of time to write. Maybe they put down a sentence, or a word, or a quick sketch of a bird. Alternately, they could write down the busy events at a quieter time. My point is that stories centering around journals are better off unfolding across a fortnight or more.
Suspense. A lot of people trash journals as dull because you know the character survives because they have obviously lived to write down their experiences. First of all, there are many horrific things you can do to your character that will make them wish they were dead and leave them capable of writing. Secondly, if you are going to kill one of your writers, you should have their death from another journal writer’s perspective, or have someone else add their death entry for closure after finding the journal - which you could do with four characters, if they know each other.
Relevance. People’s journals don’t make logical sense. You write down what comes to mind. You could jump from lyrics to story ideas to political diatribe within three sentences. That is simply part of journaling. However, random political diatribe or cheesy knock-knock jokes have no place in the every-word-counts writing world. They could serve to develop character, but they should either take up little space or contribute to the plot. You should have randomness, but make the randomness less.
Flashback. Don’t forget to let your characters read their past journal entries - or each others’ journal entries - to figure out mysteries, revisit conversations, notice changes in themselves or in others, and reflect.
There are two different kinds of shock that can easily be confused with each other: physiological shock from receiving a grievous injury and psychological shock which is an acute stress reaction to a terrifying or traumatic event. In this article, we’re going to talk about how a writer can communicate that their character is experiencing psychological shock without having to outright state it. There are many tips out there that are useful for writing fight scenes and most of them won’t be helpful when your story requires coupling an action sequence with an acute stress reaction.
So, let’s go below the cut and talk about it.
Writers can use these 12 Archetypes to create characters
The 12 Common Archetypes by Carl Golden
The twelve archetypes are divided into ego types, self types, and soul types.
1) The Four Ego Types
1. The Innocent
Motto: Free to be you and me
Core desire: to get to paradise
Goal: to be happy
Greatest fear: to be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Strategy: to do things right
Weakness: boring for all their naive innocence
Talent: faith and optimism
The Innocent is also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.
2. The Orphan/Regular Guy or Gal
Motto: All men and women are created equal
Core Desire: connecting with others
Goal: to belong
Greatest fear: to be left out or to stand out from the crowd
Strategy: develop ordinary solid virtues, be down to earth, the common touch
Weakness: losing one’s own self in an effort to blend in or for the sake of superficial relationships
Talent: realism, empathy, lack of pretence
The Regular Person is also known as: The good old boy, everyman, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbour, the silent majority.
3. The Hero
Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Core desire: to prove one’s worth through courageous acts
Goal: expert mastery in a way that improves the world
Greatest fear: weakness, vulnerability, being a “chicken”
Strategy: to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Talent: competence and courage
The Hero is also known as: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player.
4. The Caregiver
Motto: Love your neighbour as yourself
Core desire: to protect and care for others
Goal: to help others
Greatest fear: selfishness and ingratitude
Strategy: doing things for others
Weakness: martyrdom and being exploited
Talent: compassion, generosity
The Caregiver is also known as: The saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter.
2) The Four Soul Types
5. The Explorer
Motto: Don’t fence me in
Core desire: the freedom to find out who you are through exploring the world
Goal: to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life
Biggest fear: getting trapped, conformity, and inner emptiness
Strategy: journey, seeking out and experiencing new things, escape from boredom
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Talent: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
The explorer is also known as: The seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim.
6. The Rebel
Motto: Rules are made to be broken
Core desire: revenge or revolution
Goal: to overturn what isn’t working
Greatest fear: to be powerless or ineffectual
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, or shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom
The Outlaw is also known as: The rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast.
7. The Lover
Motto: You’re the only one
Core desire: intimacy and experience
Goal: being in a relationship with the people, work and surroundings they love
Greatest fear: being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally attractive
Weakness: outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity
Talent: passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment
The Lover is also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder.
8. The Creator
Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done
Core desire: to create things of enduring value
Goal: to realize a vision
Greatest fear: mediocre vision or execution
Strategy: develop artistic control and skill
Task: to create culture, express own vision
Weakness: perfectionism, bad solutions
Talent: creativity and imagination
The Creator is also known as: The artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer.
3) The Four Self Types
9. The Jester
Motto: You only live once
Core desire: to live in the moment with full enjoyment
Goal: to have a great time and lighten up the world
Greatest fear: being bored or boring others
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time
The Jester is also known as: The fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian.
10. The Sage
Motto: The truth will set you free
Core desire: to find the truth.
Goal: to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world.
Biggest fear: being duped, misled—or ignorance.
Strategy: seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding thought processes.
Weakness: can study details forever and never act.
Talent: wisdom, intelligence.
The Sage is also known as: The expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative.
11. The Magician
Motto: I make things happen.
Core desire: understanding the fundamental laws of the universe
Goal: to make dreams come true
Greatest fear: unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Talent: finding win-win solutions
The Magician is also known as: The visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man.
12. The Ruler
Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Core desire: control
Goal: create a prosperous, successful family or community
Strategy: exercise power
Greatest fear: chaos, being overthrown
Weakness: being authoritarian, unable to delegate
Talent: responsibility, leadership
The Ruler is also known as: The boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator.
Note: There are four cardinal orientations: freedom, social, ego, order. The types have a place on these orientations.
Article via soulcraft.co
Gunshot wounds infographic
From Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Surgery and University of Utah Health Sciences Library
I made these as a way to compile all the geographical vocabulary that I thought was useful and interesting for writers. Some descriptors share categories, and some are simplified, but for the most part everything is in its proper place. Not all the words are as useable as others, and some might take tricky wording to pull off, but I hope these prove useful to all you writers out there!
(save the images to zoom in on the pics)