Inspiration Decks Character Traits 4 min2023-09-19 00:00

100+ Emotional Character Traits to Use in Your Writing

emotional charactet trait

To engage your reader, it's important to always show, not tell, the traits of your characters.

The character trait emotional refers to an individual who experiences a wide range of feelings and emotions, often in a very intense manner. Such a person may be highly sensitive, empathetic, and reactive to both positive and negative stimuli. They may be prone to outbursts of joy, sadness, anger, or fear, and may struggle to control their emotional responses in certain situations. At the same time, an emotional character may also be deeply compassionate, intuitive, and attuned to the emotional needs of others.

Possible Origins of an Emotional Character

You might want to weave these into your character's backstory to build a more believable character:

  • Trauma or abuse

  • Spiritual beliefs and values

  • Coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms

  • Early childhood experiences and upbringing

  • Personality disorders or mental health conditions

  • Brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances

  • Genetics and inherited traits

  • Social and cultural environment

Attitudes Associated With Being Emotional

You may be able to show emotion through a character's attitudes:

  • Expressiveness

  • Passion

  • Sentimentality

  • Resilience

  • Vulnerability

  • Intuition

  • Intensity

  • Melancholy

  • Openness

  • Sensitivity

  • Empathy

Thoughts and Struggles Linked to Being Emotional

Here are some ideas for things your emotional character may think or struggle with:

  • They might be very sensitive to criticism or rejection, taking it very personally and feeling deeply hurt.

  • They could be very introspective, spending a lot of time thinking about their feelings and trying to understand them.

  • They might struggle with making decisions, as their emotions can cloud their judgment.

  • They could have trouble expressing their emotions, either bottling them up or being overly dramatic in their expression.

  • They might be very empathetic, feeling the emotions of others as if they were their own.

  • They may struggle with controlling their emotions, particularly in high-pressure situations.

  • They might be prone to mood swings, feeling happy one moment and then sad or angry the next.

  • An emotional character might feel things more deeply than others, which can be both a strength and a weakness.

  • They could be very passionate about the things they care about, throwing themselves fully into their work or relationships.

Feelings Related to Being Emotional

Here are some ideas for feelings your emotional character may experience:

  • Mood swings

  • Vulnerability

  • Overwhelming emotions

  • Feeling things deeply

  • Passionate energy

  • Sensitivity

  • Empathizing with others' emotions

  • Heightened awareness

  • Crying easily

  • Expressiveness

  • Difficulty with emotional regulation

  • Empathy

  • Intuitive understanding of others

  • Strong reactions

  • Deep connections with others

  • Being easily hurt

  • Being moved easily

  • Intense feelings

Facial Expressions Associated With Being Emotional

Here are some facial expressions your emotional character may exhibit:

  • Frowning or scowling

  • Sighing or moaning

  • Covering the face with hands or rubbing eyes

  • Tears streaming down the face

  • Eyes wide open or raised eyebrows

  • Clenched jaw or teeth gritting

  • Quivering or trembling lips

  • Flushed cheeks or face

  • Heavy breathing or gasping for air

Body Language Linked to Being Emotional

Here is some body language your emotional character may exhibit:

  • Flushed face

  • Hunched shoulders or tense posture

  • Rapid breathing or shallow breathing

  • Pacing or fidgeting

  • Trembling lips or chin

  • Rubbing or touching one's face or hair

  • Wrinkled forehead or furrowed brows

  • Clenched fists or shaking hands

  • Biting nails or lips

  • Tears in eyes or crying

Behaviors Associated With Being Emotional

Here are some behaviors your emotional character may exhibit.

  • Showing a range of facial expressions

  • Being affected by others' emotions

  • Being empathetic toward others

  • Struggling to control emotions at times

  • Reacting strongly to situations or events

  • Being highly expressive with body language

  • Laughing or smiling frequently

  • Crying or tearing up easily

  • Feeling deeply and intensely

Growth and Evolution of Emotional Characters

Here are some ways that your emotional character may grow and evolve over time:

  • Develop a stronger sense of self and self-worth

  • Learn to balance their emotions with logical thinking and decision-making

  • Learn to find joy and positivity in even the most difficult of situations

  • Become more empathetic toward others and their emotions

  • Learn to communicate their emotions effectively to others

  • Gain a better understanding of their own emotions and how to identify and manage them

  • Develop deeper relationships with others through emotional vulnerability

  • Learn to forgive and move on from past emotional traumas

  • Develop coping mechanisms to handle their emotions in a healthier way

Stereotypes of Emotional Characters to Avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical emotional characters like these examples:

  • One-dimensional emotional characters who only display a single emotion throughout the entire story, such as anger or sadness.

  • Overly dramatic characters who react to every situation with exaggerated emotions and melodramatic behavior.

  • Emotionally manipulative characters who use their emotions to control or manipulate others.

  • Emotionless characters who are completely devoid of any feelings or emotions and therefore difficult for readers to empathize with.

  • Emotionally unstable characters who have frequent outbursts or mood swings without any clear reason or justification.

  • Passive emotional characters who are constantly being pushed around by others and never take any action to change their circumstances.

Negatives of Being Emotional

Here are some potential negatives of being emotional. Note: These are subjective, and some might also be seen as positives depending on the context.

  • Being perceived as overly sensitive or dramatic

  • Being easily overwhelmed or stressed

  • Tendency to be impulsive and make rash decisions

  • Difficulty controlling emotions, leading to outbursts or breakdowns

  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships due to intense emotions and reactions

  • Struggling to see situations objectively, leading to biased thinking

Positives of Being Emotional

Here are some potential positives of being emotional. Note: These are subjective, and some might also be seen as negatives depending on the context.

  • Emotional characters can evoke empathy and sympathy from readers.

  • Emotional characters can inspire personal growth and change in themselves and other characters.

  • Emotional characters can be more relatable and realistic.

  • They can provide a unique perspective on the world and the events of the story.

  • They can drive the plot forward and create tension and conflict.

  • They can bring depth and complexity to a story.

  • Emotional characters can showcase vulnerability and strength at the same time.

Characteristics of Emotional People

Here are some potential characteristics of emotional people:

  • Gasping or hyperventilating

  • Crying or tearing up

  • Sighing or groaning

  • Stuttering or stumbling over words

  • Whining or complaining

  • Sobbing or wailing

  • Yelling or screaming

  • Laughing or giggling

  • Whimpering or sniffling

Relationships of Emotional Characters

Here are some ways that being emotional could affect your character's relationships:

  • Emotional people may be highly empathetic and attuned to the emotions of others, which can lead to them taking on others' feelings as their own.

  • Emotional people may form close bonds with others quickly and easily.

  • They may be more likely to express their emotions openly and honestly, which can be both a strength and a vulnerability in relationships.

  • Emotional people may also be prone to intense emotional reactions, which can sometimes lead to conflict or misunderstandings with others.

  • They may struggle with setting boundaries in relationships, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of.

  • They may prioritize deep connections and emotional intimacy in their relationships, and may struggle with surface-level interactions.

Examples From Books of Characters Who Are Emotional

  • Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  • Hamlet from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

  • Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

  • Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  • Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Writing Exercises for Writing Emotional Characters

Here are some writing exercises you might try for learning to write emotional characters:

  • Create conflict by having your character's emotions clash with their goals or other characters' emotions.

  • Experiment with different writing styles to convey the emotion. For example, use short, choppy sentences to create a sense of urgency or long, flowing sentences to convey a sense of calm.

  • Write a scene where your character experiences a strong emotion. Show, don't tell, how they feel through their actions, thoughts, and dialogue.

  • Practice writing in different points of view to explore how different characters may experience the same emotion differently.

  • Create a character profile that outlines your character's personality, backstory, and motivations. This will help you understand how their emotions may manifest in different situations.

  • Use sensory details to convey the emotion. For example, if your character is feeling anxious, describe how their heart races, their palms sweat, and their breath quickens.

  • Start by identifying the emotional trait you want to showcase in your character. Is it anger, fear, love, or something else?

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