When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.
Characters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.
NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect.
TELLING THE TRUTH AND NOT BEING BELIEVED
- Telling someone one trusts that one is being abused by a close relative (parent, sibling, uncle, etc.) and not being believed
- Going to the police and reporting a crime (a rape or physical assault, for example) and not being believed…
Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: physiological needs, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization
False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:
- Why tell the truth? No one will believe it
- If I tell, I’ll just get in trouble
- If I tell the truth, people will just hate me or blame me…
Positive Attributes That May Result: cautious, courageous, disciplined, empathetic, honest, honorable, independent, just, loyal, meticulous, nurturing, persistent, persuasive…
Negative Traits That May Result: antisocial, compulsive, cynical, defensive, dishonest, disloyal, evasive, fanatical, hostile, inhibited, insecure, judgmental, know-it-all…
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear of persecution
- Fear of being wrong about something and being accused of misleading others…
Possible Habits That May Emerge:
- Developing a compulsion for honesty (being overly honest)
- Feeling one must prove that one is honest
- Asking for assurances that one is believed
- Explaining oneself and one’s motivations when it isn’t asked for or necessary
- Growing explosively angry when one is not believed…
For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.
Which emotional wounds are haunting your characters and keeping them from being whole and fulfilled?
Emotional wounds are incredibly formative, changing how a character views the world, causing trust issues, damaging their self-worth, dictating how they will interact with other people, and making it harder for them to achieve their goals. As such, understanding your character’s wound is vitally important to your overall story.
To help with this, we have integrated this thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers.
Each entry has been enhanced and expanded to provide even more helpful information about your character’s wounds and is cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. We’ve also included a must-see tutorial on this topic—a crash-course on how a wound impacts the affected character and the role wounds play in his or her arc over the course of a story. Interested in seeing a sampling of our completed wound thesaurus entries? Head on over and register for free!
If you’re waiting for the Emotional Wounds book, Angela and I are hoping to have that ready for Fall 2017. Sign up here to be notified as its release date approaches.