I first met Eva Montealegre a couple years ago at a reception for a writers event. We had a blast chatting and since then, we’ve crossed paths fairly often. Eva very nicely consented to do a piece on centering your character’s emotions – or finding their emotional meridian.
You, the author, are working with a great guideline for your creative ideas. You’ve diligently choreographed all the plot twists of your story. The location you’ve chosen rings with ambience. What’s needed?
In order to tell your story well, to do it justice you need to address the obstacles to your character’s deepest heart’s desires. Number one aspect central to your story is the heart of your character. What is their deepest yearning? What will your character do, sacrifice, or betray in order to fulfill that unmet need? Once you take the time to explore this one point it will shade and color all the other aspects of your story. It will serve as a meridian to the secrets of your story and its soul. It will enrich the theme and give the reading of your tale deeper meaning.
Do you know what your character likes best in life? What she hates? What are her favorite foods and most cherished memories? Take the time to write out your character’s backstory. Pretend you are an actress getting ready for a big interview and you will need to answer questions about the character in order to promote your performance. I remember how excited I was when I went to see Margaret Atwood speak. She was featured in the Los Angeles Book Festival on the UCLA campus at Royce Hall. I sat in the front row, hanging on her every word. There came the time for her to answer questions. I was amazed how deeply her readers thought about the characters Atwood created and the questions they had for their beloved author. Margaret had the answers readily available. She knew her characters thoroughly. She knew why they styled their hair a certain way and why they wore a certain style of shoe. One reader stood and asked the zodiac sign of a character from the novel, ROBBERS BRIDE, not even the protagonist. The answer was Aries and I can tell you the reader felt very satisfied with that bit of information. It all made sense to her. Readers want to truly know the characters.
How do you feel when you are writing? Are you excited to reveal the traits of your characters? Are you anticipating how the intrigue of your story will affect the reader? These emotions will show up in your writing or they won’t. I hope they do. Emotions are the trail markers of your story journey. My advice to you is, when writing, don’t just be in your head. I know, I know, everybody thinks writing is an intellectual endeavor. I want to spread the word that writing is much more than a mental exercise. Whatcha gotta do is, take a moment, root yourself in emotion. OPEN HEART CHAKRA, ACTIVATE! If you take the time to know the emotional truth of your characters, your story will reverberate in the hearts of your readers.