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:
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:
Feeling things deeply
Empathizing with others' emotions
Difficulty with emotional regulation
Intuitive understanding of others
Deep connections with others
Being easily hurt
Being moved easily
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:
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?