Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Character's Emotional Wound

by Elva Cobb Martin

I have given emotional wounds to my heroes and heroines and that was before I really knew how important they could be in our stories. These hurts are actually at the very heart of who our character's are.

Angela Ackerman has written a great deal about the impact of a character's emotional wound and I am going to share some of her comments in this blog.

Definition: An emotional wound is a painful past event so emotionally damaging that it changes who your character is.

Ackerman says these traumas or bruises hold incredible power. They can change a character's motives, actions, and beliefs. They can damage their sense of self worth, filter how they view the world and influence how they interact with other people.

In my first novel, Summer of Deception, I have given the hero Luke two wounds. One physical/emotional and one plainly emotional.  He lost an eye in the Middle East conflict as a Marine. Later, his wife was killed in an auto accident. These two things have greatly impacted him and his interaction with my heroine. For example, he has lost his faith in God to a great extent and battles bitterness.

The heroine, Rachel, has suffered the loss of her mother, the dominance of a bad stepfather and more recently she has received a report from the DEA that her beloved brother has died in a plane crash while on a mission. She is insecure and slow to trust anyone.

All these things have happened to the hero and heroine before the story opens. But they really make up who they are.

Ackerman says:

  1. Wounds change everything
  2.  Every wound contains a lie  (like, Am I to blame?)
  3.  Wounds cause flaws to form (and causes one to strap on emotional armor to keep from being hurt again)   
A big part of our romance plot has to be dealing with these wounds through the tension and conflict they cause and make sure all things come full circle to some kind of peace and a plausible happy ending.

Do you know your character's wound? How important is it to your story and plot?

For much more on this subject,  you can check out Angela Ackermans' new book, Emotional Wounds Thesaurus.

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share and please do leave a comment.

Elva Cobb Martin