Hot-tempered #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Hot-tempered — irascible, fiery.

Blowing off steam through a character is therapeutical. Al Pacino and Ray Liotta have cornered the market at playing hot-tempered guys. Stephen King gave us Annie in Misery

But, boy, have you watched Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

One hot-tempered, vulgar, alcoholic mess of a woman. Playwright Edward Albee holds nothing back, and given his reputation for frank examination of the human condition, no wonder.

By today’s standards, the dialogue sounds over the top, but mesmerizing as character study. I saw Taylor oversold by Hollywood, until watching this performance. She makes the phrase who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf come into focus, doesn’t she?

From a psychological perspective, constructing hot-tempered characters is emotionally curative. Writers are frustrated people, after all. But, does is work for readers, following someone unable to fit into the world?  Two questions answer that, in my view: who is the target audience? Who are the hot-tempered characters? The first is also a marketing answer, a must-know.

So, go ahead, pour your anger into the character. My suggestion is: sit on it for a while then go back and edit, dial it down. The character will still read hot-tempered, but not borderline mad or ready to be institutionalized, unless you intended to make him so.


Image: beersonfilm, pixabay

9 responses to “Hot-tempered #atozchallenge

  1. Good advice, Silvia. Like you, I loved Taylor in the movie. I can’t think of a book where a character is angry throughout, but can certainly imagine that it would be a difficult line to walk between angry and insane.
    H is for Hundreds and Thousands

  2. For me it would be tough to write an angry character… at least for long. Also, as a reader, I start to lose patience with anger. I have a friend in Germany and her character is hot-tempered and demanding. I’m ready to slap this woman down! LOL!!

  3. Hi Sylvia – certainly Elizabeth Taylor was brilliant in that role – and I’m certain it was very well written – when one read the screen play -which I haven’t. Excellent example – cheers Hilary

    • Haven’t read the screenplay either, Hilary. Just some background on the writer — he was adopted, but that didn’t work out, so when old enough he walked out, never saw the parents again. A life no one wants, served as inspiration. Glad he was able to make something of it.

  4. Good post. There’s definitely some crossover between angry mad and saying mad, but it does make for some interesting fiction. No way could I read hundreds of pages of all hot temper, but I do admire someone with the ability to write it. That must take some stamina. :-) But you never know – it could also turn a nondrinking writer into an alcoholic. Ha!

  5. I haven’t seen that movie but yours is a great advice I think for writing any character: write hot from your soul, then put it aside to cool down.

    My blogs in the A to Z: Self discovery via travel and a separate Interactive story.

  6. Pingback: Celebrating 14 Women Who Used to Be Strangers - Profound Journey

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