Thursday, May 19, 2011


How do we create realistic emotions in our characters? I am editing my first book and I’m finding that the main character is doing a lot of crying. It’s like every other scene he is either crying or falling asleep, kind of wears on you after a while. So today let’s talk about realistic emotions for our characters.

So what are emotions in the first place? They are Psychophysiological experiences in which biochemicals in our brain interact with external stimuli. They are based upon a person’s mood, temperament, personality, disposition and motivation. There are many different theories about emotions and why they happen or how they happen.

One thing that interests me a lot about emotions is the motivation behind them. What does the person get from showing a particular emotion? For example why does a person cry when they are pulled over by a police officer? Is it truly because they are scared or could it be the person is trying to manipulate the police officer into letting them off easy. This I think would be important to look at when dealing with our characters, why are they doing what they do?

Another point that I find interesting is the different reactions that people have in different situations. One person may react by crying, another by laughing, and another by anger to the exact same situation. This is because of the differences in the people’s makeup, no not the stuff you put on your face, but the personality, temperament, and past experiences.

Let’s make a list of emotions and how a character might ‘show’ that emotion. It’s easy to ‘tell’ an emotion but much harder to show it. 


  1. i agree with your closing statement...

    contemplative - focus on the far off look, the touch of a finger to the lips, mannerisms

    anger - dialog can be used to convey this, as well as action and pacing...

  2. Hi Josh .. we probably all react differently to the mental state that we're in .. I'm sure I do .. after years of caring, if I'm struggling then I feel weaker and so react more quickly ..

    If we meet that man of the law - we are under scrutiny and sometimes don't know why .. and don't know the direction the whole experience is taking us - we've lost control of this aspect .. it's daunting ...

    Great topic .. thanks - a man crying a lot seems a little 'odd' ... cheers Hilary


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