Monday, October 3, 2016

Your Character’s Pain / Character ER



I'm a firm believer that characters should be put through hell. They should experience pain. If not physically from an injury, then mentally from whatever your character goes through.

Merely giving your characters pain and hardships isn’t enough, though. You have to follow through on it with the appropriate emotions. Pain usually brings fear, anger, or sadness.

If your character goes through any kind of physical pain, show his/her fear. Experiencing pain, especially unknown pain is very scary. Share your characters worry over what could be wrong.

Image from Pixabay


If your character is pregnant, the fear should be magnified to incorporate the unborn baby. Any pain a woman endures while pregnant is utterly terrifying. Is the baby okay? Am I okay? Will I miscarry? Each of these thoughts will rattle her to her core. In whatever she does, every pang (no matter how small) should bring worry for her baby.

When someone goes through pain inflicted by someone else, such as a hurtful act or harmful words, anger is a common reaction. Let your character’s anger build and give them a release. It could be yelling or beating on a punching bag.

If the pain brings sadness, such as the loss of a child, ride the wave of grief from beginning to end. You can't dilute it. You have to bring it out in full force.



No matter what kind of pain your character faces, follow it through with fear, anger, and/or sadness



QUESTIONS: What pains have you given to your characters? What pains have you endured?


Prompt: If I were a Mobster…
When? October 21st, 2016 
*If you need to, you can post the day after.
Where? On your blog!

For more info: If I were a Mobster Blogfest Sign Up


If I were a Mobster BlogFest

53 comments:

  1. The most painful physical things I've endured are giving birth, migraines, kidney stones, and braces. I'll keep the psychological ones to myself. Maybe they'll make good fodder for writing someday.

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    1. I use my psychological and physical pain in my writing all the time.

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  2. I've used pain a lot and had a bit with my crappy body too. It comes in all forms with the characters and each react to it in a different way as well, like real life.

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  3. In writing my characters have experienced the pain of loss. Me personally, I've experienced some physical pain related to my health that I would never wish on anyone.

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    1. I wouldn't wish the pain I experience on anyone either, but I know many people suffer from the same awful back pain as I do.

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  4. Yes! We should totally put our characters through pain. I've put mine through so much. And yes, being pregnant is one I put myself through! I've broken my leg and my wrist. Ouch!

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    1. lol Being pregnant is one pain I haven't put myself through.

      Ouch is right!

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  5. My worst physical pain was being run over by a car and pinned underneath for 15-20 minutes. I've given my characters issues including broken arms, legs, shoulders, and ankles; gunshot wounds; being beaten up while pregnant; ectopic pregnancies; polio; diphtheria (known as The Strangling Angel for a reason!); and a below-elbow arm amputation.

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    1. I couldn't ever imagine that pain or fear.

      You certainly know how to bring your characters pain.

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  6. There has been physical pain, but I've had more fun mentally tormenting my characters.

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    1. Mentally tormenting characters can be quite fun. ;)

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  7. I have both-Yippee! You are so right that, when one writes a character, one better know about the type of pain they are experiencing. I have already informed you of some of the emotional and physical pain I experienced when I was 7. I dealt with bullying and, instead of getting angry, I went within which is never good. I suffered the pain of loss-my dad and now my mom with dementia. I also have the constant horrible toothache pain in every joint of my body due to Ehlers-Danlos. I think someone could write about that disease and link it to a circus, for example. The severe types of Ehlers-Danlos are the people who can put themselves in a tiny box because they can dislocate their shoulders and hips (I do it but by accident) or the Elastic man who can stretch his skin which is another form of Ehlers-Danlos.

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    1. I know about going within. I went within, too. At times, I still do and struggle with depression.

      I know you don't write, but I think that's a story that you could do. Maybe an adult "kids" book explaining what the disease is like.

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  8. I was at a workshop on character arcs this past Saturday and I was thinking about my characters' pains. interesting post.

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  9. The 2016 election campaign is become more mental torture than I can stand. It's enough to turn someone into a mobster--or a monster. Whatever.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  10. Most poems I write are true to life so you know what hell I've been through over the years. But I don't think I could write a poem about getting my own back on the people who havecaused such pain to me in the future.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Well, I don't mean to write about yourself giving people pain who wronged you, but that characters should be put through pain as pain is what we all go through.

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  11. The worst I've done to my characters was a car accident, but the pain of guilt was stronger and more demoralizing.

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    1. The pain of guilt could be worse than any physical pain.

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  12. I've written about having Strep throat and appendicitis and even the effect of falling into a patch of Cholla cactus, but the hardest has been depicting a broken heart without bringing my own feelings into it.

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    1. I always use my feelings for broken hearts. They say if it's yours, use it.

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  13. Good point. It's good for characters to suffer.

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  14. I love unleashing pain on my characters mwahahaha! Ahem...generally though, it's been pain through violence or grief but in this WIP, I'm toying with the idea of a different kind of pain - I normally hate to break people up (all my sims families were happily married until the bitter end) but this time, I think I might throw a spanner or two into the works as see what happens ;). Great post, Chrys!

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    1. Sounds interesting. I think your characters will surprise you.

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  15. I share your back pain, Chrys. Knee replacements were worse than labor pains. At least you have a baby to enjoy afterwards. With my characters, I try to put them through the emotional wringer. Abandonment, betrayal, deception. You are so right that that they have to feel it so the reader feels it.

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    1. We put our characters through so much, don't we?

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  16. Pain, whether emotional or physical, provides a great opportunity for showing instead of telling. A character who's in pain might tremble as she lies down on the hard bed in her prison cell before she bursts into tears. Show me that pain.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Great point! Emotions are a perfect moment to show rather than tell. Using physical cues is something I always stress to writers.

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  17. Marvelous post Chris! My central characters have all experienced pain: Loss of dear loved ones, injuries from battle or terrorism causing chronic pain that even keeps them from jobs, loss of everything Including both parents - one to prison and one to suicide, and even a pain of death and resurrection that threatens constant insanity. Pain is part of what molds our character in real life and what makes our book characters believable.

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    1. My. You sure do put your characters through the wringer.

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  18. While I've played with all sorts of s*** as I've written, the biggest 'pain' that I'm actually proud of has to do with Smithy (which I've been working on recently). The main character Tristan is suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks but doesn't know it. It's reflecting my own very real problems I suffered some years back where the doctors thought it was heart episodes. No bueno.

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    1. Anxiety is a tough one to master in writing, but good if done right. :)

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  19. Ah yes, pain. That's one I haven't really considered. Good reminder.

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  20. Hi Chrys - pain comes in so many forms doesn't it - you've described it well ... as too in the comments. We can also get pain as in 'nuisance' pain ... time-wasting time etc ... just frustrating type pain ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. That sure is another pain and a good one to include.

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  21. Character ER...LOL Yeah, I want my characters feeling lots of pain. Makes the story more interesting to me. Some great hits.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. I want characters in books I read to go through hell, too. ;)

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  22. Until this year, pain was mostly the dental office for me, then there came that quad tendon snap on the foredeck of a sailboat--that set a new standard for pain for me and I hope to never experience it again except maybe in writing.

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    1. Only in writing is acceptable. I hope you never experience it in real life.

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  23. It's always interesting to see what type of physical or emotional pain a writer is going to inflict upon their characters.

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  24. Awesome advice and excellent tips!

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  25. Good points. Pain is important for characters. Whether physical or mental, it makes them more interesting, wondering how they'll deal with their pain. Fear is good too.

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  26. I know what you mean. I read a novel once about a character who didn't seem to suffer enough; that is, almost everyone in the novel loved each other, and they only had minor disagreements. It was like, where was the plot?

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    1. A book like that would drive me to boredom.

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