Identifying Your Character’s Wound

Seattle novelist Jennie Shortridge addressed the Willamette Writers last week. Her topic, Character, touched on many of the same things most writers mention, but one aspect stood out. She talked about identifying your character’s wound.
Writing Tip for Today: I’ve stressed that novelists must know what they want, what stands in the way and what the character will do to overcome the obstacles and meet the goal. All great stuff. But I loved what Jennie said about the character’s wound. Why?

  • Knowing how your character has been hurt in the past helps a novelist know and build on inner conflict. If as a child your character was slapped for speaking her mind, she may still flinch when another person raises a hand.
  • A character’s wound is key to that character’s motivation. In life we often don’t really even know why we do things. In fiction, the character’s wounds make the character’s main motivations believable.
  • A character’s wound and determination to overcome or put to rest that wound makes for a sympathetic character. Thanks, Jennie! Her bestselling novels include Riding with the Queen and her latest, When She Flew.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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