Yes, I know it has been a while. I’m sorry. Also, I am not going to list all my (completely valid) excuses here because that would be an entire post in itself. And a half.
In this post, I will explain the different ways different types of characters get angry and why this is important to your story. In the second part of this post (coming soon,) I will give specific examples and explain how you can use this in your story.
Warning: This post will be working off of WriteFury‘s and my character typing system, so if you are not familiar with it, you should probably go and glance through them now:
Now that that’s out of the way, we can talk character!
Anger is always a useful tool to better define characters in your readers’ minds. A character who does not get angry or otherwise show an emotion at some point (preferably multiple some-point’s!) in the course of a story will come off as either an emotionless robot or a soulless, undeveloped, bland nobody.
Of course, different characters get provoked to strong emotion in different ways. Here’s a quick checklist to consider (using gender-neutral pronouns for brevity):
- What would xe see as an unforgivable outrage?
- Is xir anger more likely to be righteous or not-so-righteous? (More about this below!)
- Is xe easily provoked to anger? (Bonus points if the villain uses this character flaw against xir!)
- How does xir anger come out? (aka shouting, sarcasm, physical actions, etc.) Also, is xe completely unreasonable when angry? (If so, here’s something for xir to work on in the course of the story!)
- Is xe more likely to try to control xir anger?
- What most commonly makes xir angry? (As in, what everyday annoyance would be most likely to provoke xir?)
Different character types tend to get angry differently. Type Ones can get this look that they are plotting horrible revenge (I am looking at you, Steven Rogers!), or alternatively get quiet and extremely calculating when they are angry. In fact, they may not seem to be angry at all, but use calculated language to make others angry.
Type Twos and Threes often explode in anger or lash out verbally at others because they feel their Fortress of Solitude has been penetrated or wronged. (Incidentally, these two types are also the most likely to take criticism personally rather than realistically and implementing it to improve performance, like Type Ones and Type Fives often do.) Type Twos and Threes are often blissfully unaware of their own character flaws and defects (unlike Type Ones and Fives, who tend to know their own personalities altogether too well and are more likely to develop self-hate as a result), and when their personal flaws are pointed out to them, they get defensive and angry. They’re also more likely to get worked up about things (taking gentle criticism completely out of context, for instance.) Like Type Fives, Type Twos and Type Threes sometimes do things that are considered inappropriate, but because they are in the grip of some powerful passion and they aren’t thinking ahead.
Type Fours are most likely to explode in anger when their friends are attacked, whether physically (when Steve Rogers was being beaten up behind the theater, for instance) or verbally (if one character says something bad about another character), especially if the accusation is untrue or perceived to be untrue. They are more likely to lash out with words than physically, and when aroused can be just as verbally cutting as a Type One or a Type Five.
Type Ones and Fives are the deep thinkers. Type Ones tend to get angry about social injustice and similar issues, while a Type Five is more likely to go out and do something about it. (However, since Type Fives often tend to be “poorly socialized”, sometimes the things they do about injustice are either blown totally out of proportion or just generally inappropriate, though their solutions are almost never completely ineffective.) Both Type Ones and Type Fives are the most likely to work themselves up about things that may or may not be personal to them, but in a completely impersonal way. Type Fives almost never get angry because of a personal attack. Type Ones may get depressed over being attacked in a personal way, but they don’t retaliate. Type Fives are the most likely of any type to retaliate for any perceived wrongdoing, simply because they perceived it as a wrong and not out of any personal, emotional response. Type Fives always think ahead–in terms of logic, not generally accepted norms–and will reach conclusions and do things that make them appear to others as amoral, weird, or unfeeling. However, those conclusions, to them, make perfect sense, and they often react with surprise or confusion when informed that “People just don’t do that!” Type Fives will also go through with a logical course of action, even if it will have a negative impact on them. They aren’t unware that there will be consequences. They’ve simply weighed benefits against consequences and decided on (to them) an appropriate course of action.
As a result, it may seem like Type Fives don’t get angry, but they may simply not be showing that anger on the outside while their movements are calculated and driven by deep, elemental passion. If you have posed a threat, done something to, hurt, or otherwise upset to the friend of a Type Five (even one who, like Batman, won’t kill you,) you are done for. Prepare for your life to be made miserable. The perceived wrong may not have even particularly upset the friend. In the eyes of the Type Five, you are guilty and the logical conclusion is that you deserve to be punished.
Don’t simply assume that just because a character is male, or female, he or she will get angry in a certain way. Not only is that sexist, it’s also unrealistic, and lazy. (Very, very extremely lazy.) Character types are spread out among both genders, just as all personality types appear in both men and women (though, as a quick caveat, they do operate slightly differently in men than in women.) See this post for more information. Some women will get angry in a seemingly stereotypical way. Some will cry. Others will lash out verbally. Others will resort to cutting sarcasm, while still others will be silently plotting your demise. (On a side note and as a woman myself, I would advise you to simply not make women angry at all. There’s always the off chance that you’ve just insulted a Peggy Carter and you are about to DIE in a creative and impressive way.) Some men cry when they’re upset, too, though Society frowns on this and they try to hide it. (It’s really not shameful to cry, people. However, it’s the Types Two, Three, and Four that are most likely to know and accept this. Types One and Five are notorious for bottling it up inside in that infamous Stoic Hero way.)
Here ends Part One of this post. You might also want to check out WriteFury’s post on Myers-Briggs personality types as a characterization tool. For specific examples and more on how backstory drives characters’ emotions, check back in shortly to read Part Two. As always, thanks for reading, have a great day, and God Bless!