Skip to main content

Creative Writing: Crafting Characters With Emotional Appeal in Mind

When you read the greatest fiction works ever, have you ever asked what was so compelling about them that you not only kept reading it, but you ended up reading all other major works of the writer? It may well be because the writer touched your emotional quotient quite a bit.

Every reader has a unique taste. Some like to read suspense thrillers, some tender love stories, and some others dark horror and bloodshed stories. That’s why there are all sorts of genres out there. When a writer gives you what exactly you want, you will keep reading. Here we come to the emotional appeal.

Character Imperfection

Perfect characters may not always be the upshot of a writer’s deliberation. It may well be due to ignorance. Usually the upcoming writers take it for granted that if they create perfect characters, they will be able to garner a bigger audience. It is not true. You have to ask yourself what a character would do in a particular situation. Perfect characters—perfect gunmen, perfect detectives, perfect villains, etc.,––are not part of the society. Don’t we say every man has effeminate characteristics?

So, make your characters imperfect. This can be done in a subtler way with your major characters. The examples of greatest characters with imperfection include Sherlock Holmes. He is a great crime buster, and is perfect that way. But for a normal human, his knowledge is so limited—almost nothing outside the business of crime busting. Also, he is a regular user of cocaine, a bad habit. So, there is a subtle feeling that though he is a perfect detective, he is still a normal human being with some bad habits and lack of knowledge.

How does emotional appeal comes from character imperfection? The mere fact that an imperfect character is more a real life character makes the emotional appeal stronger. Human beings feel the strongest attachment to human emotions and traits. So, an otherworldly perfect character cannot inspire such sense of intimacy on us.

Pathetic Conditions of Characters

Yesterday I happened to watch the film Carrie, based on Stephen King’s first novel. That film is a masterpiece of horror and pathos. It’s not the horror that affects us greatly, but the horrible condition of Carrie and her mother, the terrible turn of events in the film that makes her kill her friends and even her mother. All these factors can evoke deeply disturbing feelings in your mind that can last days. This is the success of this story. Carrie is there in everyone: an ignorant, defenseless (well, emotionally, not physically), frightened girl, who was made to believe that she was needed right before being mocked her in front of all.

Sidney Sheldon marks this kind of pathos explicitly in his work, Are You Afraid of the Dark? There is an African-American model (the fictional version of Naomi Campbell), who trips on the ramp. Sheldon explains that when she tripped, the world thought that she was also a normal human being, though she portrayed a supermodel—perceived as a perfect human being (!?).

Whichever Genre It Is

As I always said, you can’t have every single human being in the world to read your work. If you write perfect horror, horror enthusiasts would read it and no humor enthusiast. If you write humor, humor enthusiasts would purchase it. So, the trick is to concentrate the best on what you write the best, and not on everything.

The said emotional appeal is universal. It is there in comic fiction as it is in horror fiction as it is in love stories. Every human being has every feeling—love, happiness, anger, fear, hope. When they read a particular work, one of these feelings is in its height, and that makes the story read. If you write a comic novel and right in the middle of it, you turn things upside down by making it horrific, do you think the reader will stay?

This is a mistake of young writers. What they should do is concentrate on what they are doing. Let your honest human emotions develop the story.

Conclusion

This quite a bit tells you how your characters should be for a great fiction work. Characters are the backbone of any story and should be crafted with absolute care. Build your character from those around you; build your situations from those which you experienced. An experienced writer only can make the story believable without going autobiographical. Young writers should concentrate on situations and characters they have experienced to be successful.

Related Entries:

Building Great Characters
Creative Writing Style Guidelines
Some More of the Creative Writing Thoughts

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

Comments

  1. I love to entrance readers with creative usage of metaphor, afterall our mind understands best through emotion and implied meaning.

    Great post, thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated very strictly

Popular posts from this blog

En Dash, Em Dash, and Hyphen

We have three types of dashes in use: The hyphen, En Dash, and the Em Dash. In this post, we will see how to use them all correctly. Hyphen (-) The hyphen is the minus key in Windows-based keyboards. This is a widely used punctuation mark. Hyphen should not be mistaken for a dash . Dash is different and has different function than a hyphen. A hyphen is used to separate the words in a compound adjective, verb, or adverb. For instance: The T-rex has a movement-based vision. My blog is blogger-powered. John’s idea was pooh-poohed. The hyphen can be used generally for all kinds of wordbreaks . En Dash (–) En Dash gets its name from its length. It is one ‘N’ long (En is a typographical unit that is almost as wide as 'N'). En Dash is used to express a range of values or a distance: People of age 55–80 are more prone to hypertension. Delhi–Sidney flight was late by three hours. In MS Word, you can put an En Dash either from the menu, clicking Insert->Symbol or by the k

4 Effective Ways to Write About a Boring Topic

  With the plethora of interesting topics to write about, you’re fortunate enough to get the “boring” one. While it can be a pain for many writers to wind up with such a task, I’m telling you now there are ways to make yours more interesting than it is. So if you find yourself stuck with the dreariest topic to fill in a blog about, don’t fret. Here are the four best ways to unburden yourself. 1. Never a boring topic, only a boring writer. Here’s the hard fact: It’s never about the topic being boring. It’s about the writer making it boring. For instance, you’re supposed to write about aquariums. I know, how can you continuously make this topic interesting, right? Well, you’d be surprised just in how many ways you can make it an enticing read. Start by listing down the basic “what”, “where”, “when” and “how” surrounding the topic. You can ask (and research) about “What material was first used to make aquariums?” or even “How the first aquarium was built?” or “What are

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Writing

As writers, we’re always pushing the envelope to express ourselves better than we did before. However there are times when we plateau, when our writing just doesn’t feel natural. Worse yet, there are times when we can’t get a good paragraph out. Those are times when we start thinking about pushing ourselves and our writing. When you need to tweak and boost your writing up a notch, it’s always good to try something constructive.  For those who could use a couple of tips, here are a few that are sure to help improve your writing and keep it from going stale. 1.Imitate Different Authors If you read other writers for inspiration, why not actively imitate their writing? Once you walk in another writer’s shoes for a bit, writing as they write, you get an idea on how to approach writing about things in ways you normally wouldn’t.  Moreover, it will force you to pay attention to what makes someone else’s writing style unique which, in turn, will help you find ways to make your