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Crafting Characters: Stress Points Part 2

We continue our evaluation of character reactions to stress. The higher the stress level, the more extreme their position becomes on the behvioral spectrum. You can give them a problem where their approach works and they gain ground, or they fail utterly which causes them to lose ground.

9. Joss

Joss is a man of action and few words. He may never talk about the problem or what needs to be done about it. Stress can make him impulsive. He may attempt things that were better left alone. He may drag in a few other maverick loners like himself. They may drive each other to ridiculous lengths.

10. Kelly

Kelly is a one-man show. He’s wild and crazy. Stress makes him more impulsive than usual. He has no trouble confronting people or tasks. His efforts won’t be focused and the results are iffy. He will probably charm someone else into taking a hit for him.

11. Greer

Greer is a quiet, elusive kind of guy. He isn’t very social to begin with. As long as people leave him alone, he really doesn’t care what they do. When they dump problems in his lap, he becomes resentful and withdraws. He may be forced to tackle the problem in his careful, logical way, but whoever caused it will pay the price for disturbing his peace.

12. Taylor

Taylor thrives on being social and gaining cooperation. He becomes rigid and irritable when stressed. If someone provokes him, he will hold tight to his goal and snap at everyone he dragoons into helping him. He is good at getting people to do what he wants them to. His opponent will feel the sting.

13. Cam

Cam isn’t terribly social. As long as people leave his lofty logical fortress alone, he ignores them. Attack him and he freezes in amazement. He leaves other people alone. Why would they go after him? He calmly sets about destroying his attacker in his creative, methodical way. He won’t broadcast his success or ask for help. He’ll just take quiet satisfaction in his work. 
14. Morgan

Morgan is erratic in nature. He’s a rolling stone that gathers no moss. He isn’t interested in fighting unless someone brings the fight to him. When stressed, he becomes scattered. He’ll find it hard to focus, but his scattershot approach may have many undesirable consequences for his enemy.
15. Lee

Lee is lethal. He is used to getting his way and cuts down anyone brave enough to confront him. He isn’t a touchy-feely, let’s be a team kind of guy. He is good at dragooning others into carrying out his wishes. He becomes hypercritical when stressed and snipes and cracks the whip. His enemies should just move out of the way. 

16. River

River is a pacifist. He wants what is best for everyone. He isn’t interested in fighting unless someone brings the war to him. He becomes critical and self-absorbed when stressed. His strength lies in his uncanny intuition. He will figure out his opponent’s weakness in a heartbeat and use it to his advantage.

The more stressed your character feels, the more anxious your reader feels in response. Turning up the heat on your characters makes the reader eager to see the stress relieved. That keeps them turning pages.

For more about how to craft characters, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, available in paperback and E-book.

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