Because the fiction I write is based on my own past and overcoming emotional wounds, the discovery of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus was all the more important for me to learn to develop unique and layered female protagonists. Even though the conflict and themes of my current and future novels will somewhat reflect my own experiences, I also desire to write for and create relatable characters for women of all backgrounds.
I've heard the notion that parts of who we are as people are reflected in the characters we write. Often, our first novel represents ourselves in part or in whole more than any other. I see it as a form of therapy as we work out our own personalities and struggles in the safe space of a fictional world. However, eventually, I'd like to write characters that are not like me at all! Perhaps an alter ego, or a story inspired by something I see on the news or hear about from friends.
For my current fiction project, I’m writing from the POV of three sisters. Here are five ways I see The Emotional Wound Thesaurus can help writers create characters of depth – even when those characters are different from themselves or anyone else they know.
1. Forward and Intro Sections. Whether you think you know your characters or not, read the first 40 pages of this book! If you're not sure about your character's wounds yet, skim the table of contents and choose a few that seem to fit with your story concept. But then, go back and read the beginning chapters which offer exceptional insights on Self-Care for Writers (especially important if you'll be exploring wounds that are close to your own personal experiences), The Mirror of Fiction: a Reflection of Life and Our Deeper Selves, What is an Emotional Wound?, Character Arc: an Internal Shift to Embrace Change, and more. Even though I'd already used the online database of wounds to develop my characters, I still had several breakthroughs and "ah-ha" moments in understanding my fictional sisters and how to convey the various parts of their journey in my story. 2. Consider the PRIMARY Emotional Wound and choose two additional wounds. You may--as I did and especially if you're basing your main character after a part of your own life--begin to see overlapping characteristics related to multiple wounds. This will help you to discover the dominating negative and positive traits, triggers, fears and responses for your character. In turn, you'll be able to highlight these for fiction and the purpose of your story without overwhelming your reader with too many issues for your character to tackle. However, this process will help in knowing your character on a deeper level that should help in developing scenes, writing dialogue, or even choosing hobbies, family status, or a career path. 3. Multiple POVs. This is the first time I've attempted writing a novel with the point of view of three distinct women. Having access to The Emotional Wound Thesaurus has been a vital part in giving each woman a unique back story, personality, and voice despite the fact that they are sisters. 4. Add Your Own Elements. I'm certain this resource isn't intended to be an end-all-be-all, but more of a spring-board of potential. Though there are realistic and unrealistic manners in which someone will respond to an emotional wound, there are ways to modify these responses depending on your character. For example, say a character is still in the process of overcoming the wound of "Becoming a Caregiver at an Early Age". As a result, she's avoided becoming a parent herself. Instead, she has a dog to fulfill her need of caring for another being, but also sees it as "safer" than becoming a mom and she can practice being "overprotective" without rejection or push back. I came up with this detail on my own as it seemed to fit her personality. 5. Emotional Wounds are Directly Related to Positive and Negative Traits. Even if you don't analyze your characters or dive as deeply into their wounds as I have for mine, you'll find this resource helpful in creating rounded characters. This goes for your protagonist, supporting characters, and even the villain. On the most basic level, choose a wound and a few associated negative and positive traits and you've got yourself a unique character attempting to overcome the past while battling a conflict in the present.