Character Emotional Development Plotline

The Character Emotional Development Plotline is how an author or screenwriter brings a character alive on the page or screen (Note: Character Development of the protagonist is often one of the most neglected elements in a memoir).

People read books and watch movies 70% for the characters. We love slipping out of our own lives and inside characters' lives. The Character Emotional Development plotline allows us to do that.

It is no small feat to create unique characters from scratch and make them believable and likeable. To hold a reader's interest for the duration of the project they must embody enough depth and complexity, have just the right voice, and be three-dimensional, vibrant characters.

Developing characters includes consideration of a multitude of elements:

  • Background
  • Physical Appearance
  • Educational Experience
  • Mannerisms
  • Personality types

Yet, the most three most critical elements to consider when developing your characters for plot are his/her following character traits:

  • Flaw(s)
  • Fear(s)
  • Hate(s)

Writers who write character-driven stories tend to focus on aesthetics and feelings, creativity and imagination. These writers access the right side of their brains and enjoy playing with the beauty of language. They are more intuitive, and like to work things out on the page. Character-Character-driven writers tend to be holistic and subjective. They can synthesize new information, but are somewhat (or more) disorganized and random. They see the story as the whole. These writers may know what they mean, but may have trouble finding the right words.

What if I'm a Dramatic Action Writer?

So, you took The Test and found that your strength as a writer is in developing the Dramatic Action plotline. Have no fear, here are some tips about developing your Character Emotional Development plotline just for you.

  1. Try using your own flaw, fear, and/or secret -- we all have them! Plot Tips: Step 2 and Step 21 provide additional information about how to give the protagonist a flaw and create a compelling character arc.
  2. Take the answers from questions 4 through 10 of the Plot Lines test and tack it up next to your computer. Even if the answers are slim, think of it as a first draft! Over time, as you continue writing and come to know your characters better, the information will deepen.
  3. Look for opportunities to incorporate more patterning, metaphors, and analogies into your writing.
  4. Look for opportunities to role-play and use visual aides.
  5. Stop writing periodically and move your body during your writing time.
  6. Writers with a strength in creating Dramatic Action usually think in sequence and are list makers. Since you have no trouble processing symbols, you actually enjoy making an advanced plan on a linear form such as a Plot Planner (check out the Plot Tools section for more information).
  7. After plotting out the Dramatic Action, use a different color pen and plot out a Character Emotional Development plotline. To create logical conclusions, look for clues as to how the Dramatic Action causes changes in the Character Emotional Development.
  8. Before and after each major dramatic action plot point, develop first the character's emotion as it applies to his/her anticipation of the event and then, after the event, show his/her emotional reaction or response to the dramatic action. Do NOT tell us the character's anticipation and/or reaction, SHOW us through the character's behavior and/or dialogue.

Need More?

  • Check out the Plot Books section for more resources
  • Sign up for a Consultation for one-on-one help with your story
  • Plot from Beginning to End Workshops and Plot Workshops to develop your Concept, Logline & Pitch as well as revision workshops and more offered by Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson the Plot Whisperer at A Path to Publishing.
  • Deepen your plot and rejuvinate your writer's spirit, join Jordan Rosenfeld, author of Make a Scene, and Martha Alderson the Plot Whisperer at an upcoming Writer Path Writing Retreat. Be the first to apply NEW material from their forthcoming book from Writer's Digest, Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story, Scene-by-Scene Through Action, Emotion & Theme.

  • Follow Blockbuster Plots for Writers blog awarded top honors by Writers Digest 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013: Plot Whisperer
  • Visit the vlog Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, or Screenplay? on YouTube.
  • We hope you “like” The Plot Whisperer page for writers on Facebook.
  • Follow the Plot Whisperer on Twitter
  • For visual plot support Plot Whisperer on Pinterest