Monday, November 3, 2014
CHARACTERS DRIVEN BY FRUSTRATION BY RITA KARNOPP #writingtips
There is nothing stronger than using emotion to create strong characters that drive your plot and create an exciting, strong book.
There’s a wide range of emotions we use to heighten our plots and create motivation. If you can add frustration to the mix - you’ve discovered a tool like no other to thrust your story forward.
So how can you use frustration to propel your story? The Wikipedia explains that in psychology, frustration is a common emotional response to opposition. Related to anger and disappointment, it arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. (I had to read that three times to get it!) In other words, when a person really wants something – and they don’t get it – anger and disappointment results.
The greater the obstruction, and the greater the will, the more the frustration is likely to be. Important to understand and develop in your plot.
Causes of frustration may be internal or external. This can be used in so many good and evil ways in your story.
In people, internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear of social situations. Can you believe that is one sentence? Okay… so internal frustration is driven by the belief we are inept or unable to fulfill our goals. This creates fear or a lack of confidence.
Conflict can also be an internal source of frustration; when one has competing goals that interfere with one another, it can create cognitive dissonance. Internal conflict is a source of frustration that has a character fighting the need to do wrong, when he knows what’s right. Use this internal conflict to show his reasoning or thinking through conflict, discord, and even opposition.
External causes of frustration involve conditions outside an individual, such as a blocked road or a difficult task. We create diverse external causes of frustration all the time. This tool can create an unexpected event that sends your normally calm character over the edge and lose control. Or it’s the external frustration that propels your already stressed character past control. It’s the unexpected interruptions and the foil to the perfect plan.
While coping with frustration, some individuals may engage in passive–aggressive behavior, making it difficult to identify the original cause(s) of their frustration, as the responses are indirect. Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as stalling, sarcasm, unpleasant jokes, inflexibility, resentment, hostility, or repetitive failure to accomplish requested tasks for which he is responsible.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss the propensity toward aggression.