Understand Anger: Character development

Little Merida by =AndytheLemon on deviantART
Photo Credit: AndytheLemon

Understanding character anger can help you develop your character. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should make an angry character (or that you shouldn’t). But what makes your character angry can give you insight into that character’s present situation, backstory, current wound/flaw/weakness, and other character traits. (Developing relationships and character arcs are discussions for another day!) Anger, again, indicates that something is wrong in your character’s life and a change is needed

Backstory. Your character’s life prior to the start of the story is sure to (or should) include moments of injustice, unmet wants or needs, even threats to her emotional or physical well-being. These events don’t need to be traumatic so long as they have a lasting effect on your character.

Character flaw or wound. Your character’s flaw is typically rooted in the backstory. Because your character’s flaw makes her reactive, you can work backwards to discover the nature of the flaw. What makes her angry? Why? Maybe she gets angry at “neglectful” parents or people’s disinterest in homeless vets. Guess what happened the the character (or someone important to her) before the start of the story?

Other traits. On the same vein, what if racist talk makes her angry, or people who believe a particular stereotype, or people who drink excessively? This says something about her beliefs, her upbringing, the people she will respond to (positively and negatively), and maybe even her current lifestyle.

Then there’s how your character expresses (or doesn’t express) her anger… But that will be addressed later this month!


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