Emotional Wounds & The Lies They Cause

by Pamela S. Meyers, @pamelameyers

This past month I became one happy novelist when Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of the Emotion Thesaurus and other writingthesauruses came out with The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

Many, if not most, people believe a certain lie about themselves. In building my characters I use one of eight basic lies as the foundation for my protagonist’s character. The list, which is not exhaustive includes:

  • I’m a disappointment
  • Not good enough (this is a very strong lie, often used for men and strong female leads)
  • I’m not enough – or defective
  • I’m too much to handle and will get rejected
  • It’s all my fault
  • Helpless – powerless to fix (this leads to a fear of being controlled)
  • Unwanted/unlovable
  • I’m bad (which could possibly be used as a symptom or excuse for another lie)

There is usually a trigger early in life that moves the person to believe a lie about themselves. Figuring out your character’s lie should be one of the first steps in developing his or her characterization. Once you have the lie figured out, much of who they are will fall into place.

Thelie that I used in my novel Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, which was republished later as Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, was “I’m not good enough.” My heroine Meg had come to believe this about herself because she struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder back in the thirties when educators were just learning about ADD. When she was around ten years old, Meg overheard her teacher tell her father that Meg would never amount to anything. She believed the teacher was right. Because her father, not knowing she’d overheard the discussion, never mentioned it to her, she believed he agreed and spent most of her life trying to prove to him the teacher was wrong.

If I had access to the Emotional Wound Thesaurus while I was writing my story, I could have gone to the section about failing at school and learned what my character may fear, possible responses and results, personality traits, triggers that might aggravate the wound, and opportunities to face or overcome the wound. All of which would have helped in developing my character who, in my story,is trying to prove herself in the man’s world of newspaper journalism.

I have several craft writing resources I turn to time and again, and the Emotional Wound Thesaurus is going to be a huge help to me as I develop my next story.

Do you have a favorite writing resource you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments.

Second Chance Love

Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they are meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second-chance love?

Pamela S. Meyers lives in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Second Chance Love, and Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a reissue of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva). Her novellas include: What Lies Ahead, in The Bucket List Dare collection, and If These Walls Could Talk, in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Midwestern spots for new story ideas.