Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Emotions and Actions

Characters react to situations, to spoken words or the actions of others whether they be large or small. Their emotions must engage in a meaningful way. Another character says something or does something. The focus character sees or hears something, Even tastes, touches,or smells something and they react. Thses reactions are emotional and they need to be geared to the character's nature. Whatever event triggers this reaction, it should be  significant and reasonable and in tune with the character's nature and development. In other words, the character's reaction needs to be in character.

I'm sure we've all read stories where we end up wondering why the character acted in a particular manner to some stimulus. We may never find the reason. This sets up a disappointment in the reader's mind. If a character is going to react to something in a way the reader doesn't believe, the reader is lost. The best way to handle this is to know the character.

When writing the fifth Katherine Miller mystery, my critique group was split on believing the main character's actions to a particular stimulus. Those who didn't know the character and hadn't read the previous books thought her actions were strange and not right. Those who had followed the character's development believed her reactions were in character.  What I had to do was throw in a little background showing the character's nature to bring her reactions to the stimuli to show this was her nature. The central nature of the character was protectiveness of those who were near and dear to her.

So look at what you are using as stimuli for the character to react to and make sure the reaction is true to their nature and is properly motivated.

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