This is one emotion that we all know and have experienced to some degree. Feeling jealous of others is probably not your favourite emotion, but it’s a catalyst for conflict in your story or between your characters. Jealousy can make your character feel more relatable and real to your reader.
Jealousy in writing is effective when it helps a character realise what they really want and how badly they want it. This emotion does not have to be central to the plot of your story; it can be understated and supported by anger or fear.
It comes across in simple examples like a villain who is jealous of the hero, when two characters want one thing/ have the same goal or when one character is more successful than the other.
How to write about a jealous character:
Know the types of jealousy:
- Sexual Jealousy – when a character’s spouse or significant other displays or expresses sexual interest in someone other than your character.
- Romantic Jealousy – when your character fears the loss of a romantic partner or fears rejection from a potential or current romantic partner.
- Possessive Jealousy – when he/she is feeling threatened by someone who could interrupt a friendship or relationship that they value.
- Separation Jealousy – when your character has fear of separation or loss of a lover, partner, friend or parent due to their relationship with another person.
- Work Jealousy – when your character feels cheated out of a promotion at work, or feels jealousy towards a specific person at work.
- Friend/ Sibling Jealousy – When he/she feels inadequate when comparing themselves to their friends/family/siblings. They always try to one-up their friend/sibling.
- Abnormal Jealousy – extreme psychological jealousy that results in or a combination of morbid, psychotic, psychological, delusional, anxious, controlling, immature and insecure behavior.
Understand what fuels your character’s jealousy
Is it confusion, frustration, powerlessness, rejection, worry, insecurity, immaturity, poor self-esteem, underachievement, possessiveness, shame, paranoia, humiliation, fear of loss, suspicion, loneliness, distrust or a combination of these?
How does jealousy affect your character physically?
Do they have an increased heart rate or body temperature? Do they become angry and clench their fist, have verbal outbursts, stare downs and tensed muscles? Do they become quiet and have a dry mouth?
How does your character react towards others or the person they are jealous of?
Does he or she:
- Make up stories or gossip about the person they are jealous of so that others will have negative feelings towards the same person.
- Feel overwhelmed and underachieve in every sphere of their life.
- Avoid the person all together.
- Take up a bad habit or addiction in an attempt to deal with their feelings.
- Become obsessed about something like over exercising and dieting to beat their rival in a tournament or something more sinister like plotting another character’s demise.
- Manipulate others into feeling sorry for them.
- Over criticize themselves and everything they do.
- Harm themselves, their environment or others.
- Show a blatant disregard for the needs and desires of others to fulfill their own.
- Bully or intimidate the people around them to gain a false sense of power.
- Abuse others physically or psychologically.
- Flaunt their wealth, fame, intelligence, status, beauty, etc. to mask their own insecurities.
Why does your story need jealousy?
The physical fight or confrontation that results from jealous behavior advances your plot.
It reveals facets of your character that your reader may not expect.
It is a way for you to show how jealousy affects your character and how they deal with it.
Here are some questions to help you craft a jealous character:
What is important to your character?
Who or what is your character jealous of?
How does this jealous feeling affect your character?
What does this tell your reader about them?
Does this jealousy stem from anger or fear?
What is your character fighting for?
Why does he/she feel insecure?
Is their jealousy justified?
How do they express this jealousy?
Is jealousy part of their personality or is it a fleeting emotion?
How does he/she resolve or plan to resolve the feeling of jealousy?
Feel free to download this PDF version of the above Questions To Help You Craft A Jealous Character.
Famous movies and books that have jealous characters:
Othello, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Bridesmaids, Ratatouille, Atonement, Beauty and The Beast, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Titanic, The Danish Girl, Gone With The Wind, Brooklyn, Moulin Rouge!, Edward Scissorhands, Peter Pan, West Side Story, The Girl on the Train and Persuasion.
Do you use jealousy as a theme in your stories? Do you have any tips for crafting jealous characters? Who is your favourite jealous character of all time? What is your favourite movie/series/book that has a jealous character? Let me know by commenting below!
Love and Blessings,
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