While there’s a perception that books are simply a vehicle for entertaining an audience, the truth is something deeper and more meaningful: they are portals for connection. Readers are looking to gain a window into the experiences and emotions of a character who, like them, struggle sometimes as they navigate life. To be human means sharing a universal need to become someone stronger, more capable, and to gain a higher level of happiness and fulfillment. Participating in the character’s arc as he or she seeks the same can be both rewarding and revelatory.
Writers have a unique opportunity to share their own experiences, feelings, and unique worldview to pass on important beliefs, insights, and discoveries, communicating to readers that we are all on the same journey for fulfillment, and no matter how hard it can seem in the moment to do, each of us are capable of the internal growth needed to find it.
A large part of the struggle for growth is fear, something embedded in us because life can sometimes be a painful teacher. Emotional trauma is something all people (and therefore all readers) experience, and being deeply hurt on a psychological level can derail one’s life for years to come as mistrust, biases, disillusionment, and self-blame are left in its wake.
To accurately write wounded characters that readers will empathize with, writers must strive for authenticity at every level. Understanding the mental process that occurs after a psychologically wounding event is key to delivering a believable perspective to readers, especially readers of memoir.
In this discussion we will cover:
- What exactly an emotional wound is, and the forms it can take
- The destructive emotional shielding that results when fear is in charge
- How to show the fallout of avoidance by showing how life goes off the rails
- How Unmet Needs can tip the scales, creating a desire to follow a different path
- How healing starts with re-examine the wound and challenging one’s false belief, gaining a new perspective that includes hope
Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma, as well as five others bestselling writing guides. Her books are available in six languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site, Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop For Writers, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling. She loves connecting, so please say hello on twitter, facebook and instagram.