Laura Pauling asked...
How do you find that balance between emotional motivation/inner conflict for your main character and not going too emo? I know it has to do with story tone and genre too but do you have any tips?
Wow, Laura you did set the bar high on this one. What a great question! Yes, it does have to do with genre. For example, if you write YA, like I do, well, teens tend to get a little emo on occasion. More so than say a fifty-year-old lawyer. Yes, tone is important too. But that often depends on genre as well.
Let's dig a little deeper. You can't argue Twilight's success, but I've heard the complaint that Bella is a whiner, over and over again. When do you cross the line between whining/self-absorption and communicating true inner conflict?
I admit that was a major complaint from one of my trusted beta readers on my last manuscript. That my character was in danger of crossing that line the wrong way. SO I had to tone it down. That's tip number one and two.
- USE BETA READERS. They can spot this sort of thing when you might be too close.
- Weed through the manuscript and see how often you repeat yourself. Sometimes we're so wrapped up, we want to get the point across. But let's not beat the reader over the head. If your character expresses her fear of losing her boyfriend, let's not say it every other paragraph, fifteen different ways. Let's make sure we pick the BEST ways to say it and do so at carefully spaced intervals throughout.
- Make sure the inner reaction is appropriate for the character. And you should know your character well enough to know the answer to this. If not, you have some character building to do!
- Make sure the inner reaction is appropriate for the situation. You may have a Bella for an MC, but if she doesn't eat meat and all they serve for lunch is hamburger it's just not the same as her boyfriend committing suicide.