Character Development and Emotional Triggering

Take a minute to think back. What characters have you read or watched that really trigger you to feel? You know, the ones who bring that sick-to-your-stomach feeling, or make you feel angry, or the character that feels eerily familiar to you.


We all have our favorite characters from books and movies. Consider your favorite superhero. Favorite villain. Favorite fairy tale princess. These are the characters that really hit you a certain way, pull on your heart strings.


They make you feel...something (happy, sad, like crying your eyes out, anger, etc.).


There’s connection between and among the characters in the story, and we, as readers, form a connection with each of them as well. It's the reason some of us (me especially) need a box of tissues watching certain movies. Or why we celebrate with the good guys when the villain is defeated.


Art imitates life imitates art.


And what other genre is more character-driven than the good, old-fashioned, romance characters? From the classic friends-to-lovers scenario, to enemies-to-lovers, to love stories around the themes of destiny or second chances at love, we love a good romance.


And why wouldn’t we? Romance literature is filled with great dialogue, well-crafted scenes, passion, and drama. There’s emotional depth, real vulnerability, and ultimately, we watch the great romance couples grow and change over time. These characters bring out the best, and sometimes worst, in one another, which, ultimately, helps them grow. The dynamic between the two, while exciting, and sometimes steamy, can also be very triggering for the characters. For authors, that is part of the challenge. Make it close enough to seem real, while also helping your readers escape real life for a while and get lost in someone else's world.


Kind of like real life, right? As with real people relationships, the triggering between the characters is a path to healing, resolving some sort of past trauma or conflict, bringing up some reality, some pain they have to deal with in order to get to the next level in their life, or in this case, the next chapter of the story.


Keep in mind - we connect with characters that we feel are similar to us, those on a similar path, or a path we desire for our own lives.