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Character Building

30 November 2015

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We stumbled upon this great post from Angela Ackerman today about understanding emotional wounds and thought we'd share it with you.

If you're developing characters for your book, and are one of the 'organised' types of writers that plan everything out first (we know you try!), it's also a bit of a blueprint on character profiling. While the topic is a little bleak, it shows how understanding the psychological influences on your character can help the reader better understand his/her actions. Every character in your story will have a past, and we know, as real characters in our own story called life, that these can play an important part in the decisions we make. Negative events can have an impact on us consciously and unconsciously, and our rationale for dealing with reoccurance of them is determined by how we dealt with it initially. 

A more in-depth explanation can be found here, using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

We've taken Angela's article and created a short cheat-sheet that you can adapt for your own characters, particularly for those who you know will be involved in a sinister event.

Create examples of similar experiences 

Make a short list of similar experiences to those that you already have in mind for this character. It will help you judge the weight of the incident/wound/event to better understand the level of emotional impact it will have on the character and the reader.

Basic Needs that may be comprimised

In understanding the pressures the character faces, it may help to reinforce those unexpected twists.

False beliefs/outcomes

Angela suggests:

  • I am a violent/dangerous person/a monster
  • The world is an evil place
  • I did the unthinkable and so am capable of anything

Positive outcomes/outtributes/emotions

Negative traits that may result

Resulting fears

Possible habits that may emerge

If you'd like to join a community of writers for inspiration, help and ideas we'd suggest you gave the writers helping writers blog!

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