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Writing an emotionally-unattached character?:

theoneguy
I'm thinking up an idea involving a teenage female character who, for whatever reasons (it's not aspergers or a social phobia, nobody knows for sure) can't form emotional bonds with people or feel empathy. She's not rude, or in-sensitive to others, or soulless, just unable to feel much when it comes to other people.

In the story, a plague whips out most of the human race, so how should I go about showing her reactions to the death of her parents, neighbors, etc., and how she'll react when she comes into contact with 'normal' survivors?

edited 17th Mar '11 4:22:23 PM by theoneguy

 2 Mr AHR, Thu, 17th Mar '11 4:45:54 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I am kinda like this. Chances are, she's learned how to feign worry, since lack of it will mean social rejection.

Oh, and she might have more base worries. Like, worrying about the emotional speeches people will give and all the time it will take up, or how it might halt production, stuff like that.

However, you also have to decided if her unattachment is solely because of the whole million-is-a-statistic or if she actually does not care beyond that.

edited 17th Mar '11 4:46:30 PM by MrAHR

No. There is too much of this trope.

Golden Compass, Will has had so much pain that he is emotionally empty.

Nation by Pratchett, Mau's family died from the Tsunami, so Mau is an emotional blank.

We readers have emotional reactions to characters who are people and have emotions. We love or hate characters and so we care which side wins.

Characters need to care about something. Otherwise, readers don't care about characters.

That's logical, Captain.

 4 Mr AHR, Thu, 17th Mar '11 5:16:28 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Meh. As long as she is a character within her own right, and not some bland vanilla on a stick, it's fine. Plus, as clichés go, this one ain't that bad, and can still prolly done.
Lack of emotional bonds doesn't have to mean lack of emotion, or lack of caring about things other than people. She could have a certain attachment to things that have always been there, for feelings of security or whatever; it's not nearly as strong as personalising an object or something like companionship, just maybe something along the lines of having a favourite knife without feeling like naming it or talking to it. People could be treated in the same terms; she's used to them being there, only now they're suddenly not, and she has to change her expectations.

This might be considered too much of an emotional bond, granted, if you want her to completely lack that capacity. In that case, her emotions could be far more in-the-moment. Great, now she has to get rid of the bodies before they smell. Ugh, but now the neighbours are rotting and no one's there to clear those bodies, and what good is that? She could really use an extra set of hands here, and it would have been nice to have someone help.

When people come by, she might just avoid the topic as much as possible, and dodge around things. She doesn't even have to feign tears that way; it won't be improbable if people just think she considers it too painful to talk about, especially when survival requires putting emotions aside enough to function. It's likely the survivors will have had to do the same; they did survive, after all, and adapted. And she can treat anyone being too emotional for her taste like Wangst and get irritated and bored. Or she can be concerned that she should be acting like that and mentally take notes.
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theoneguy
Thanks for the tips

Well, if she is the main character, then her reaction to all this might be about how *she* will survive instead of *oh my god my parents are dead!* kind of reaction. I'm assuming she does care about herself, but just lacks empathy, and these people do exist, and even care for their kids to a degree as they are an extension of themselves.
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