Creation of a Manuscript 03: How Far Can You Take Angst?

Well, it’s Sunday again and I should have already posted this ages ago, but I’m having one of my down days. My beloved Sheba probably thinks I’ve lost my ever-loving mind and she wouldn’t be that far off. Don’t you hate it when for no clear reason you just breakdown in tears with no warning or explanation. I do, but for once my mini-breakdown ended up inspiring my choice of subject for this blog.

Emo Man Tear

I once had a reviewer (a female) who bitched about the fact a male character of mine actually cried. Just out of curiosity what the hell is wrong with anyone–male or female–having a good fucking cry? That leads me to the main point of this blog post. I get it. I do. Men are supposed to be strong, virile creatures. Yet they’ve been programmed by society to believe if they shed a tear that somehow makes them less of a man. Although, I’ve noticed that it’s become less of a problem with Hollywood recently to allow their male characters the ability to cry and still be masculine. Two examples of this are the character Ben Harmon in FX’s American Horror Story and the characters of Sam and Dean Winchester from the CW’s Supernatural. Somehow they all manage to still be sexy, masculine and shed a tear or two at the same time. Of course, another thing I noticed about this is that the characters are all in genre shows, although both shows were created by men. Whether it’s because they are genre shows or not that has anything to do with this level of emotionalism is anyone’s guess.

Any who…the entire point is this straightforward question. When writing male characters how far can you take the angst before its considered repetitive and over the top? Does the situation the characters are dealing with have a big part in the angst level? Does the character themselves become less likable with the angst level? How much drama is too much drama?

Okay, so that was more than one question, but inquiring minds want to know.

My main protagonist, Rhys Morgan, has been through a horrible tragedy, losing both his partner and child in a violent, sudden way. I set up early on he’s had major issues dealing with that loss. He does shed tears eventually, but the question is whether there will be anymore tears to come. Or even if there should. He’s filled with anger and grief, the first which he has no problem showing, but the later he’s suppressed except on rare occasions. There is a year between his loss and the beginning of story where he tries to move on from the wreck that is his life and what he wants. And as one might suppose it involves the introduction of a potential love interest.

There is a great deal of chest pounding, cursing, and physicality in the introduction of this love interest yet I want (as I’ve said in past posts) something realistic. I don’t want to downplay Rhys’ grief nor do I want to overplay it. This has been an issue I’ve wrestled with before in the creation of characters and it never seems to get easier for me.

So, out of curiosity folks I have to ask.

How much angst is too much when it comes to acceptability in a reader’s eyes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until Later…Blessed Be




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