Saturday, August 2, 2014

How to write traumatized characters

Often times the effects of traumatic backstories are underdone.

How do characters get traumatize
People can get traumatized by a number of things and at any stage in their lives. It's important to remember that while anything can be traumatic, there is a difference between something merely being upsetting and traumatizing.

In general. things that are traumatic are things that nobody should have to experience or witness. Make sure that your characters don't go too far on either end, either treating something traumatic lightly or something non-traumatic too heavily.

Effects of being traumatized
The traumatic event is unforgettable to the victim and she may experience flashbacks and nightmares. These are often brought upon by triggers by anything that reminds them about the trauma. Obviously, she will do her best to avoid such triggers.

Trauma manifest itself in many different ways, depending on the type of trauma and of course the individual being traumatized. An important thing to remember is that people who are traumatized do not just have nightmares and are depressed.

Adults and children react to trauma in different ways. While adults do sometimes block out traumatic experiences, young children are far more likely to do so. Young children can be far greater effected by trauma as they're beginning to shape their world views, trauma will likely play an important key.

Though trauma can be more impactful on children certain types of trauma, such as child abuse, is easier to overcome when they're young and still in their formative years.

Overcoming traumatization
Simply being remove from a traumatic event isn't enough. For a concrete example, let's say say the character is a victim of child abuse. Telling her that everything is over now is not enough for her to believe it, she will have to learn this on here own.

Giving her hugs and telling her that she is loved is not going to solve all her problems. She is used to being abused so she will continue to expect to be abused. In real life, people may never overcome being traumatized, at least not fully.

Getting over trauma is a long process and can even be life long. Fictional characters should strive to be as realistic as possible but at the end of day, they're fictional characters. They should overcome their trauma faster and more fully than their real life counterparts. Especially if they're major characters.

Unless their purpose in the story is to be traumatized, allowing them to overcome it faster and better is usually a good idea because while characters who are in angst is fine and good so long as it's justified and doesn't last for too long. Readers will grow tired of it, lessening the impact of the trauma.

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