Narrative Basics Lesson 1: Characters

Characters and their experiences

Inside: How they feel

One of the most powerful ways to describe a character is through their emotions.

How do they feel? What makes them feel that way?

After a minute the girl realised she had only moved a few inches. It was pitiful. She lay on the floor, utterly exhausted and dejected.

Awful AuntieDavid WalliamsSource

In this snippet, Stella tries to escape a trap but fails, and Walliams describes how that makes her feel. 

Understanding how she feels brings us closer to her, and makes us more involved in the story, because we start to feel the same way.

But here's an important point: other characters in the same situation might feel a different way! A different character in this situation might not feel dejected, they might feel angry, or sick, or calm. Different characters can have different emotional reactions to the same situation.

As he looked through his spyglass out to sea, Captain Punce spotted a whale spouting water. He let out a cry of excitement, elated to have finally seen one after all these years.

It was nearly lunchtime when I noticed that I hadn’t seen Snuffles or Puggles all morning. A sudden spike of anxiety shot through me as I realised that both cats were missing.

Feelings can be actions too
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