I was thinking about emotions and how we reveal them in characters. Now I'm not a big romance novel lover, but I always assumed there would be lots of 'oh darling, I love you!' as the big climatic (he he - pun) ending.
In a recent post I talked about 'who-ness', the element that individualises your character from the others, you can see that post by visiting: James Baldwin and Character Who-ness, but today I'm thinking specifically about how characters express love.
LOVE. It's one of the big novel themes; finding love, losing love, loving the one you're with, love can heal all wounds, love is where you find it... etc and etc. Then of course there's romantic love, family love, friendship love and the love of a pet.
Love is a fundamental need. Harlow is well known for his experiments on baby monkeys, raising them in isolation chambers without a mother. Some of the babies were given terry cloths as a substitute and during times of fear those monkeys would cling to and hide behind the terry cloth, they would also hug it for support. Overall it was found that monkeys raised with a mother lived longer than those without. Monkeys need love too.
So all characters are in someway affected by love in their lifetime, even if it's from a lack of love, but how do you express that?
A good friend of mine was telling me that her father doesn't say things like 'I love you', he's just not comfortable with those emotions. What he does instead is always check if her car is running okay when he sees her, or when they talk on the phone he asks about her car. That's his way of saying 'I love you'.
My mother shows her granddaughters love by buying them loads of toys, she also supplies and endless amount of junk food and ice-cream follows every meal, in fact ice-cream usually follows ice-cream. This is her love.
Sometimes love can be revealed in unwanted ways, perhaps a teen character is being controlled by a mother and not allowed to socialise the way other kids can. But if you look into the mother's background you might find that she was raped as a teen, which explains her fear of letting her teenage daughter out at night. Now you have emotions that move the narrative forward.
So really think about your characters, can you think of any ways they express 'I love you' without words? Baking? Cleaning? Beating? (it doesn't have to be positive to be truthful). Share some of the odd ways they show love with us :-)