Expressing Happiness in Fictional Characters

EXPRESSING HAPPINESS IN FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

by Rosemary Wakelin

I researched this topic quite a bit and was amazed to discover something that you and I probably already know.

READERS DON’T WANT HAPPY MAIN CHARACTERS!

They want them miserable, in turmoil, in fear, in pain and so on. Otherwise, the story would be boring.

However, heaven help you authors if:

YOUR MAIN CHARACTER ISNT HAPPY BY THE END OF THE BOOK!

It’s a tough gig, writing a novel.

When are your characters ALLOWED to be happy?

  • At the end of the book – obviously
  • If it provides momentary relief to readers, especially from your overly life-threatened and unstable main character.
  • If they are side characters that live annoyingly, perfect lives just to remind ‘main character’ how wretched their own life is. In my book, Forgotten, my main character Claudia, has such a person as her BF, Mel. Mel is so well intentioned, and continually full of advice as she lives her model life; she even makes me dry-retch.

Truly happy characters:

  • Are happy – the current buzzword – GRATEFUL.
  • They don’t hold a grudge.
  • They are generous and giving.
  • They don’t need outward affirmations.
  • They are confident with who they are.
  • They have the ability to gladly do nothing… on their own.
  • Or enjoy their personal hobbies. Again, on their own.

So, how do we SHOW happiness in characters?

I'm sure you have many ideas; here’s just a few that you may already know or may stimulate better ones.

 [NB: From what I read, keeping it simple is preferred. Over-elaborating is tedious and syrupy. Get the feeling readers don’t like that.]

  • Lines fan from their eyes
  • Corners of mouth turned upwards
  • Bounce in their step
  • Being breathless
  • Skipping, dancing, whistling, feeling light and alive
  • Words tumble from their mouth, incoherent
  • Take stairs two at a time.
  • Shout, whoop, weep tears of joy
  • Movements are fluid
  • Displaying a courteous nature
  • Tapping fingers as if to music
  • Warmth spreads through their chests
  • Possess a sense of lightness in their body
  • They notice the small things eg smelling the roses –don’t use that hackneyed cliché – but you get what I mean
  • Being at ease with the world

Will leave you ‘happy’ authors with your ‘happy’ characters. Enjoy.

 

happiness
writing happy characters