Developing character emotions to create resonance
In my last post “Writing exercises to help you go deeper” I wrote about developing a writing exercise to help me delve into my story and focus on what my protagonist learned from her experiences and also how she grew from this knowledge or information.
It was pretty easy to come up with what she learned. For example, one of the things she had learned from her life experiences so far was that those who love her, eventually leave her. This is what she comes into the story with and, because she’s afraid of getting hurt, she guards her heart.
Over the course of the story, she learns to trust again. She learns that “leaving” is an illusion and that love is never-ending.
So, to answer the second question from my previous post, how did she grow from her experiences? I set my timer for 10 minutes and made a list of all the ways my protagonist had grown over the course of the story.
To show her growth, I focus on how she’s different at the end of the story than how she was in the beginning. To do this, I show her change through her actions.
For example, where she used to say “no” to every new opportunity that came along, by the end of the story she begins to say “yes.” She gradually opens her heart and begins to trust again—to trust that life is good.
I’m only part way through my story but I like to check in at some point during each chapter to see how my protagonist is doing emotionally. I know that in order for my readers to be invested with my characters, my characters need to be invested emotionally in their own lives.
I like to think of my characters and my readers as diamonds—they’re both shiny and beautiful but, more importantly, they both have many facets or sides to them. My job, as a writer, is to see how many sides of my characters and readers I can connect or bring into resonance. The more resonance my readers feel for my characters, the more my story will shine.