1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Help on Proper Emotional Response

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GuardianWynn, May 28, 2015.

    So many times I don't give the exact context to avoid confusion. Screw this time I will get full context.

    A woman's child(10) is brutally killed in front of her and 200 years later she dies and in the spirit realm is reunited with him. Thing is she was kind of a bad person and didn't expect to be reunited with him. Sort of she thought she was going to hell and he was in heaven.

    So there is a moment when she is reunited with him. What is a proper response? I keep getting many different answers ranging from her screaming to her crying to her spazing and running around in circles. Pretty sure running around in circles is not correct but my beta reader felt my version lacked the punch it needed. (Shaking and crying.) So not sure how to add punch. Figured you guys might have ideas.

    Especially curious of any girl or mothers opinions.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I would go with disbelief followed up by overwhelming delight, and then maybe throw in the conflicting emotions when the woman comes to terms with the situation.

    I'm quite confused, though. Is the women a bad person in general, or has she been bad to the child? Either way, she would probably feel ashamed and disgraced. Maybe she sought forgiveness?

    It's hard to say without seeing the context, but that's the impression I got from your description. Hope it helps.
     
  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    She snapped after the child died and went on a murder spree. So she never did him any wrong. If that adds context. I for the life of me can never get all the context in on one try. lol
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard to visualise your take on this, but I'd be cautious about over-emoting. Put yourself in her place. She thought she'd never see him again. And there he is. I suspect she would not scream, cry, dance around, do the boogie. I think she'd be stiff as a board for a few minutes ...wonders if this is part of her punishment and he's not really here. What does he do to convince her that he is? That might be an interesting take on it. And what is HIS attitude? That will also impact on how she behaves. Has he grown into a man, or is he still a child? Perhaps he's a man, and she's not even sure if he is himself.

    I'd reject your first 5 impulses to do the most expected thing, and under-react instead. React with dignity, with self control, maybe with shame or extreme sorrow. That often carries the most impact.
     
  5. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Yeah. Over emoting wouldn't be good, especially since I get the impression the emotions would be quite reserved and subtle.
     
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  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol. I think that was my original response actually. I had her still, doubting it, her head spinning, her hands shaking and she grabs him and holds him tightly and begins crying.

    So even though this is an intense moment you think over emotions would harm it?
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Actually, the best way to determine the correct emotional response is to assess the experience of a woman that is over 200 years old. Did she spend all her time in a nonstop crazed killing spree, or did she eventually come to her senses?

    200 years is a lot of time to change, and depending on the experiences, her response could be anything from a simple light hearted smile of satisfaction to some other exaggerated emotional response.

    Do not assume that everyone responds to similar situations similarly.
     
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  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Break down crying due to both the joy of the surprise of being reunited and remorse for killing others.
     
  9. jannert
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    Not necessarily. But containing her joy/sorrow ...whatever her emotions are ...has a stronger impact. Have the reader be in no doubt how strongly she actually feels. But think about things like funerals. Often it's the people who DON'T cry, but who just stand there being brave, or maybe too frozen to let go. These are the people whose faces you don't forget, and who probably move you the most. While she's not suffering grief, she might be suffering something close to it, especially if he's grown up now, and she knows she's missed so many years of what should have been his life. Again, another key is him. How does he react to her?

    What has her personality been like during the rest of the book? Is she a contained individual who doesn't give her feelings away, or is she really open ...raging, crying, etc? You might want to play with this a bit, maybe try for contrast? I don't know. I'd just say do what will feel the most satisfying to your readers at this point in the story.
     
  10. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I can see this thread getting philosophical. :rolleyes:
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fair point. She spent quite a bit of that time as a monster but she has redeemed herself recently. So she is guilt ridden and doesn't believe herself worthy to have this joy. Does stop her from feeling it when she sees him though.


    Crap. The son. Not my best example of writing. He is impulsive, a tad immature, not much of a thinker. He has been waiting for her. So he is like jumping up and down in circles around her

    Well the book is about her redemption. So it varies and flashbacks to her different sides. Originally she was mean and factious but after she realized how bad she was, she was depressed, sluggish and self destructive and cried quite a bit.
     
  12. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    What made her realise she was bad?
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Someone forced her to look at herself. The idea being that from the pain of his death she became a monster to hide. Being forced to look at that and realize she became the kind of monster that killed him make her sick(literally).
     
  14. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Well there you go. If she spent most of her 200 years distracting herself with killing, then she probably did not mature much. She did came to the realization in the end, so I think you are safe with using more restrained and bittersweet emotions.

    She is going to be happy with the waterworks, but her face will be pained. How quickly she comes to accept it and recover will have to depend on the kind of person she was before her craziness started. That is my take on it.
     
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  15. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    So her son was murdered, and out of sorrow and pain she goes off her rocker and turns evil. Then someone forces her to look at herself, making her realise that she has become that which murdered her son. Then she dies and is reunited with him in heaven.

    Have I got that right? Sounds interesting.
     
  16. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I got to ask why does that equal bittersweet and restricted emotions? Not arguing just not sure how you reached that conclusion.

    Pretty much except she wasn't forced to look at herself until after she died.

    Doesn't sound too weird?
     
  17. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Well, I'll be honest. It sounds quite bizarre to me, but I'm not a big reader of fantasy and similar things. The premise, however, is quite promising though, and you can probably play around with a lot of things within the story.
     
  18. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    It matters who she was before she became nuts, but a person who suddenly wakes up and realizes that she has spent all her life killing so many people is probably going to be pained beyond reconciliation, especially if that realization comes shortly before she dies. Even after death, she will probably be carrying too much remorse, believing that she deserves greater punishment.

    Yet instead of punishment, she actually receives a little gift in the form of a reunion in the afterlife. Seeing herself as a person of heavy sin, she is probably not going to be able to simply rush over and hug her son. She will probably be hesitant or even avoid him. She cannot show her face to him after what she has done is the idea. it will probably take some goading from her son to get them to meet face to face even. She will probably cry and tell him how she does not deserve this.

    In short, even though she is really happy, her sins weigh too heavily for her to express and accept it.
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to over-explain to provide context for my answer:

    - I am a lucid dreamer, or whatever the proper term is for dreaming while you know that you're dreaming. Much of the time when I'm dreaming, there's a false reality around me that I can see and hear and touch, but I know it's not actually real.

    - There appears to be a gatekeepr in my brain that feels that I shouldn't have to deal with certain realities. Once in a while, that gatekeeper will tell me that a certain reality isn't real--that it's a lucid dream.

    I don't mean that I'm actually confused about reality. I know logically that the thing is real. I can take all the appropriate actions for it being real, correctly evaluate risks and consequences. But at some emotional level, I react to that thing as if it's a lucid dream--I bypass the moment of emotion, and I never get back to it.

    For example, my brain didn't accept 9/11 while it was still happening. It accepts the reality of it in the past, just as it accepts the reality of many other historical tragedies, but when I was hearing it on the news (and that's the entirety of my experience; it's not as if I was anywhere near the events) it treated it as a lucid dream.

    (I find my brain's un-requested service here really weird, because it's not as if these events, or anything I've ever experienced, has been awful enough for me to need this sort of emotionally buffering. It's as my brain came with a feature that I neither want or particularly need.)

    What all this is leading up to is that my take on this would be for the character to react to the appearance of her son as if it's a wonderful dream. She'd have the joy and the delight and the love, but the overload would be muffled, like my brain muffles these events for me.
     
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  20. Nicoel
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    @ChickenFreak My brain has the same level of buffering, somehow. It's the reason why I don't really get so upset over a book/movie where I cry or anything. It's odd that someone else does the same thing, haha. And when something bad does happen, it's like I know that happened but emotionally I don't feel it. Humph. My friends say I have no soul because of it.

    To the OP - I agree with @Nilfiry about the response. She would be shocked, and probably won't believe herself to be worthy of such a gift. I can't imagine her having the gall to look her son in the face when she herself probably caused other people that same pain.
     
  21. Victoria Griffin
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    I agree that it is probably better to err on the side of less visible emotion. It's a surreal situation; it's doubtful that she would be able to process instantly what was happening and how she felt about it. Honestly, a lot of people would probably shut down under the stress of so many conflicting emotions, could even be frightened to an extent. It's an odd sensation, not understanding one's own feelings, and she would probably shift her focus within herself to try and sort out her emotions before focusing on her son.
     
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  22. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Truth be told I don't exactly get what you mean. It seems like your saying the emotions you think would be correct would be too large and your mind would force you to limit them just so you could handle them?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    Oops. Sorry, I never answered this. Yes, that's more or less what I had in mind.
     
  24. Ivana
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    Totally stunned. Difficulty breathing. No tears.
    Leave the rest to the reader.
     
  25. TJtheWildChild
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    TJtheWildChild New Member

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    It really depends on the character. I'd say this is where knowing your character in and out is quite helpful. When I picture the scene (without knowing very much about your characters or the story), I picture a woman who when she sees the boy is unable to breathe, eyes wide, perhaps placing her hand to her chest as she tries to convince her lungs to suck in air (which may or may not be necessary not that she's... dead), slowly walking over to the boy and falling on her knees before him (again I guess I'm picturing a child so age is important) and wrapping her arms around him and holding him like she will never let go, like she's scared that the moment she does let go he will disappear.
     
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