Using Triggers to Build Character

In the past, I’ve written several posts on triggers: how to care for yourself when someone triggers you, different triggers, and how to support someone who is dealing with a trigger. These posts are based on my personal experience with dealing with triggers that jolt my memory and remind me of things that were traumatic.

Today, I came across a post written by Angela Ackerman about how to use triggers to add depth to characters. New and experienced writers, I’m sure, understand the challenges of confronting old hurts and wounds that have not completely healed. Especially for nonfiction writers such as memoirists who deal with past traumas, it takes a lot to confront the past. I know for me, sometimes I feel very beaten up by it. Sometimes I start doubting myself and I question if I can really go as far as I always dreamed as a writer.

Ackerman’s article gears more towards fiction writing and using triggers to make the characters more human, but I find it useful for writing nonfiction as well. As I’ve said of my own experience dealing with difficult memories of the past and writing memoir, it’s not always easy to let myself revisit difficult moments. But reading Ackerman’s article helps push me to be a better writer by helping me to do just that. I find it to be an encouraging article that not only gives me a little bit of fire to revisit the past, but also helps me to utilize those triggers when writing memoir and round out my characters.

I recommend this article to all writers, especially those who feel hesitant about revisiting their own triggers.


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