Although anticipation is an important part of creating believable behaviour, it has had but a secondary role in the field of life-like characters. In this paper, we show how a simple anticipatory mechanism can be used to control the behaviour of a synthetic character implemented as a software agent, without disrupting the user's suspension of disbelief. We describe the emotivector, an anticipatory mechanism coupled with a sensor, that: (1) uses the history of the sensor to anticipate the next sensor state; (2) interprets the mismatch between the prediction and the sensed value, by computing its attention grabbing potential and associating a basic qualitative sensation with the signal; (3) sends its interpretation along with the signal. When a signal from the sensor reaches the processing module of the agent, it carries recommendations such as: 'you should seriously take this signal into consideration, as it is much better than we had expected' or 'just forget about this one, it is as bad as we predicted'. We delineate several strategies to manage several emotivectors at once and show how one of these strategies (meta-anticipation) transparently introduces the concept of uncertainty. Finally, we describe an experiment in which an emotivector-controlled synthetic character interacts with the user in the context of a word-puzzle game and present the evaluation supporting the adequacy of our approach.