How To Write Character Emotion: DESIRE
By Cathy Bryant on April 23, 2009
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a racy post!! Rated G--I promise!
Synonyms: craving, longing, yearning, need, wish, passion for, want, hunger
Degrees of Desire (from weakest to strongest)IMHO: wish, want, need, longing, yearning, passion for, craving, hunger
Etymology: Desires were once thought to be influenced by the stars. It comes from the Latin desiderare, to investigate closely. The Latin term, sidus, which means constellation or stars, gives us the word consider. (Interesting how desire is so closely connected to curiosity.)
Examples: Eve in the Garden of Eden, finding the forbidden fruit desirable; The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where all characters come under the spell of the ring and desire it.
“Desire is obviously a weighty emotion….Often desire is used to express sexual appetites. In fact, that is the biggest pitfall in trying to convey this emotion…a better way to think of desire is to give it the power of sexuality even if the focus is not sexual. Then you get the…intensity of this emotion.” Creating Character Emotion, Ann Hood
Physical/Emotional Response (some of these may be cliche, so you'll have to rewrite in a fresh way!): having your heart lurch (or pound, or race) at the sight of the object of your desire; warmth; the pull or draw of the object; can't take your eyes off of it, (IMHO this is a very strong emotion, where sometimes the emotion becomes more important than the object of desire)
Things To Consider:
1. It would be easy to make desire come across as feeling like covetousness, but it's not the same thing.
2. A really strong desire is something you would be willing to die for (physically, emotionally, or spiritually).
3. As usual, it's always good to spend some time thinking about something you have strongly desired, and put your feelings to work in your writing. Avoid abstract things like success, fame or wealth, and focus on something tangible. (E.g. - When I was younger, I wanted a canopy princess bed just like my friend down the street. I used to dream about how it would feel to gaze up at that canopy, and was sure I would sprout a diamond tiara if I had one.)
4. This topic made me think about the movie of The Fellowship Of The Ring based on the story by J. R. R. Tolkein, and how the characters desired the ring and denied they had that desire. To me the denial makes the pull of the desire even stronger, because it becomes a weakness, something you're ashamed to admit. I think this point will help me when I try to write a character with this emotion.
5. This is stated above in the quote by Ann Hood, but a desire doesn't have to be a physical desire. Instead, think of objects, the ring in Tolkein's masterpiece, the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the statue in The Maltese Falcon. What makes the desire interesting is not the object, but why the character wants the object so badly. By the way, the literary term for the object of desire...HA! I'm not gonna tell you! The first comment that mentions the term will get their name in the hat an extra time for this week's book giveaway! (HINT: It has an Irish/Scottish feel to it.)
Okay, time for your input. Don't forget that if you join the discussion, you get your name in the hat another time for the copy of Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow! (The character of Jason Paulding exhibits desire in wanting a piece of property in this story.)
NEXT POST: How To Write Character Emotion: GUILT/SHAME
Join us at http://wordvessel.blogspot.com for the discussion.
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