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