Identity as Character Armor

Bookmarked BUILDING CHARACTER – Bringing People to Life Through Words (Part 2) by K.M. Fawcett (

In Part 1 of my Building Character blog posts, we discussed how a character’s unique traits will determine how they react to anything and everything in the story. I gave a list of 14 things that make a character unique. You can read that post here. In Part 2, I want to dive deeper into 3 of them: experiences, perspective, and beliefs.

Identity: Emotional armor (facade) worn to protect your character from his wound. It’s the lie he believes about himself. It’s the negative coping skill.

Wound: An emotional trauma. An emotionally painful event in the character’s life.

Fear: Painful emotions the character wants to avoid. Fear stems from the wound and creates an emotional need.

Emotional Need: This is the character’s true goal; the internal goal. The character’s emotional need drives his behavior.

Lie: In order to cope with his wound, the character believes lies about himself. I call this the negative coping skill.

This lie should center on [not feeling worthy of] one of the 5 basic human needs.

1) The need to secure one’s biological and physiological needs.

2) The need to keep oneself and one’s family safe.

3) The need to feel connected to and be loved by others.

4) The need to gain esteem and recognition, both by others and from oneself.

5) To realize one’s full potential.

The lie is one of the most challenging things for me to pinpoint but I like this way of drilling down to it.

Emotional Need (True Goal) [is tied to] Emotional Motivation [which leads to] Emotional conflict [which are actualized through the plot through] Physical Goal [inspired by] Physical Motivation [despite] Physical Conflict

This ties all the pieces together in a useful chain.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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