Every Monday, MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR focuses on the art and craft of writing, from Shannon’s perspective or that of guest authors. To catch up on all posts, check out the MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR portion of the website! This week features Shannon’s thoughts on characters and emotion.
This week following Valentine’s Day, I decided to unpack the idea if characters need to be emotional to be effective. What I ended up deciding is that it isn’t necessary, as long as the character’s distance or detachment is credible. They key is for the character to be compelling, and there’s no reason a character can’t fulfill that requirement if they don’t wear their heart on their sleeve.
The key involves getting the audience to want to find out more about the character – basically, having a mystery of some sort to uncover, to hark back to the column title. Even if the character can’t grow and change, if the reader’s knowledge of them grows and changes, this can be effective as well. Also, I think genre can make a difference – an emotion-guarded or distant character would be a harder sell in a romance versus hard-boiled detective fiction, for example.
Just some thoughts to consider. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, but realize all comments are moderated.
Until next time!