Pronunciation Guide

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Character Emotion -- Part Three

So, this kind of became a three-part thing, ha! “E” is for emotion.

Emotion is huge for my characters. They are either driven by it, overwhelmed by it, scared of it, or work hard to stifle it. I write in first person; we are only ever in Rab and Ari’s heads. Yet I want people to feel like they know the other characters in the story, especially Mas and Sorek. I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot of body language in my story to reveal emotion.

Rab is the most openly emotional character so far. She is passionate, fiery, and bold. With a few exceptions (especially at the start of the story), if she feels a certain way, everyone around her will know. She has little control over herself, but she is likely the most emotionally honest of the main four. Her natural reaction to a threat is to lash out, fight back. This is why she clashes so much with Sorek at first; she feels threatened by him (both him himself, and by the eventual feelings she has for him). As the story progresses, she learns to control herself a bit more and to embrace positive emotions, while rejecting the more destructive ones.

Ari is naturally reserved. A lifetime of abuse has trained her to keep her emotions methodically controlled. She deliberates before she allows herself to feel, or react with, emotion. In her heart, she is actually every bit as passionate and fierce as her sister. But she buries it, for in her mind, that is the only safe action. As the story progresses, a big place of growth for her will be in expressing her true feelings about what has happened and what she is going through, instead of just internalizing it all. Where Rab needs to learn how to control herself, Ari needs to lose control.

Sorek hides behind sarcasm and cockiness. His emotions are fluid, one flowing instantly into the next, largely because he is at constant war with himself. He fears himself: what he’s done, what he’s capable of. He fears his weakness. It is not in the displayed/buried emotions that we get a sense of what he is actually feeling, but in his body language, especially his eyes. Often he laughs or smiles, but his eyes remain untouched. Only in moments of heightened emotion do we see the real Sorek come out, like flames flickering within the cracks of cooling lava. As the story progresses, his guardedness will drop a lot as he learns to let people in again.

Mas also hides his emotions, but unlike Sorek – who uses humor to protect himself – Mas has turned himself to ice and stone. He monitors everything about himself: how he speaks, the expression on his face and the look in his eyes, the way he stands and walks. The more emotional and out of control he feels inside (or the more terrible of a situation he finds himself in), the more he hardens himself outwardly. The result is one of emotionlessness, coldness, and ruthlessness. Only when he doesn’t have to pretend anymore does the real Mas start showing his face.

How much emphasis do you put on character emotion in your stories? How much emotion do you like to read in a story? Let me know! =)

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