character’s emotions

I read in a magazine recently that one of the largest problems is that the main character has absolutely no emotions and is hardly a well-rounded character.  The supporting characters in this situation might even be the most 3D characters ever written but the main characters are just blah. Who is going to care about blah main characters?

I ran into this problem recently. In my new book, working title mindskill, I am using quite a few characters from different areas of the world, some who may not even know each other. (The last time I wrote a book with a multi-character POV, Richard, Hope and Senior all lived in the same place and worked together and all that, with only people not knowing Ka’yam until the end, so this is something new for me. Shad only had Shad’s POV except for one little section.)  Of most of them, I understand their motivations and personality very well, or can at least relate to them. For lack of better terms, (and I suspect some other writers can understand this) the characters are talking rather easily for me.

That all stops with Vanessa. For the reason that I don’t want to have to come back someday and clean this up, Vanessa is a very important character, especially as the story ends. Some of her story will be very cool and rather important. I just don’t understand her though. When I think about what she would feel, I just see this giant void of emotions.

I’ve tried putting myself into her situation. She’s been rather independent now, but loved her father. Her father’s dead though and she just had the first real experience  with him not being alive (since she’s been away at school thus far.) So when she was at home, it was like when I’m in a totally quite house and just waiting for someone to come in, although I know that they’re still far away.

Suddenly, she kills someone for the first time,  a total accident, and she freaks and runs. After a few days of living in the streets (which I so wish I remembered more of what I learned on Urban Ex), she runs into a man who tells her that he’s running this whole private business to stop criminals. He says that she can come and work for him, so she does.  (She doesn’t have a lot of options and she is trained to defend herself. She was going to be a cop.)

But it turns out that he isn’t exactly what he said he was and she doesn’t really have schizophrenia like she thought she did. In reality, the problem that she’s been calling schizophrenia is really something called seposomen (it’s basically my own version of telepathy, but I don’t like that so I called it something else.). She’s had it since she was sixteen and no one has told her. Why not? Did her father know? (Well, I know he knew because I (and the reader) would know that her father was the lead researcher in seposomen, so he had to know, but she wouldn’t know that.)

My first thought is if she critically evaluated this, she might realize that her father did know it and… and it just dawned on me that she might try to contact some of her father’s associates. (That might give her enough to be tense enough that it sets things up for the ending, since she can’t get ahold of anyone. )

But how do I show this without telling it? She knows almost no one there except Karl, so it’s not like she can talk through these emotions. And Karl, although I’m trying to elude that he might be romantically interested in her (he’s not, but that’s okay), she doesn’t trust him enough to spill everything out like that.

On top of all this, I also realized that Karl doesn’t have funding and I don’t know if I want to have two rich kids involved in this, although it might work. And… I’m still trying to figure out another character’s plot. Maybe writing this will be harder than I thought. I probably should just stick to stand-alone books after this. :) (Who knows? Maybe this will end up being a stand alone book anyway, just because of it’s shortness. I am at 22,000 words though and I’m hardly towards the midway point.)

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

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