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Maren Elwood p3

Emotions toward characters…

Ms Elwood in Characters Make Your Story says: “Before writing any story, the writer should know clearly and specifically the dominant emotion he wants the reader to feel toward every character in that story.”

Ms Elwood in Characters Make Your Story, says to: “Never leave the choice of the emotional effect you want to build in the mind of the reader to chance or to hasty thinking. Decide on the specific emotion and write it down opposite the name of the character. For example, you may want your reader to feel both fear and anger toward your villain…Affection and admiration are also nearly always bracketed together. Amusement and tolerance is a good combination for a minor character. Pity and admiration for the hero is a combination of emotions often used with good effect, especially in a story that does not end happily for the hero.”

She said the writer must use “incidents, situations, and characters that are useful in rousing the feelings and emotions of anger, fear, sorrow, hope, hate, and joy in the reader; remembering as we select them that it takes two characters, or a character and an opposing force, to rouse the reader emotionally, and that the reader isn’t going to feel very strongly toward a villain who is neither thinking nor acting in a villainous manner.”

She said that if an infamous villain was buying a bottle of milk for his baby, a reader might have the emotion of curiosity. But nothing more. “But if we saw this same criminal aiming a gun at our blameless and defenceless friend, our emotions would be of the most violent kinds. We should feel fear, both for our friends and for ourselves, and a boiling hatred. So don’t expect your reader to feel an emotion, if you characterise your villain merely by saying that he is bad.”

See Characters Make Your Story by Maren Elwood, to learn about writing from someone who knows what they’re talking about. It was published by The Writer Inc, Boston, 1959.