It is raining here in Starkvegas. Again. After the wettest September on record (22 straight days of rain), we got 5 days of sun (long enough to bushhog the yard), and now more rain. The dogs are looking at me imploringly “Mama, make it stop!” The munchie bones I got them assuaged the boredom for about 5 minutes (long enough for me to put away the groceries). Now they’re laying on the sofa and floor respectively, heads on paws looking mournful again.
Daisy is totally staring at me. It’s a little creepy.
Hubs is off to band practice, leaving me quiet time I must take advantage of to write my words for the day. I spent the morning working on a band website, Facebook fan page, twitter page, and event calender because I am the social media guru of the household. It’s not bad for a couple of hours’ worth of effort. It’s all kind of bare because, of course, it’s new. The guys aren’t exactly luddites, but they all got kinda blank looks when I was explaining the idea of this going viral. Or maybe that was just alarm at the idea of success… Oh the pressure. Not that I expect any of you are anywhere NEAR us in Starkville, MS, but if you are, come on out this Saturday night for their first show! 9:30 at Fat Rabbits! /shameless plug
Anyway, after yesterday’s post on locus of control, it occurred to me that I often think about fiction in relation to psychology. It’s a side effect of the assorted evil day jobs. While I’m writing lectures on one thing or another, I’ll think “Oh, that would make an interesting post,” but most of the time I never get around to writing it. I was thinking, though, that it might be interesting to pursue a series on psychology and writing/fiction/characters. A couple of you expressed interested yesterday, so I thought I’d see if there was a broader appeal (enough to boot me into actual organized action). And if you are interested in something like this, is there a particular focus you’d like to see?
I’d definitely be interested. I don’t tend to think out a character’s psych profile beforehand – often they emerge onto the page before I know much about them at all; and it’s only after I’ve seen how they behave that I start to understand them.
I wonder whether there is any value in plotting psychology out, or do most other writers pants their characters’ makeup too? Is psychology more useful as a way to examine a work during revision?
I’d be willing to bet that there are as many gradients and opinions on that as there are on the issue of pantsing vs plotting. It’s a gradient. I am inclined to think that there’s a happy medium. There are some big components that would be handy to know on the front end, but I think it’s impossible to plan a really dimensional character in totality before you really write them. I don’t think there is any amount of planning that can make them come alive more than simply writing. I think that it could be a really useful tool for troubleshooting those characters that don’t jump off the page after the first round of writing.
Definitely interested, but I don’t know enough to know where to focus on, if that makes any sense. It’s been a long, tough day around here. Need to funnel all this family drama into a story somehow, but it’s just too close right now. Tough to get my words in but NPI is 310 tonight. Just glad it’s done.
I’m thinking you’re right about the best time. I guess if you are an extensive outliner, then perhaps knowing all the big baddies in your characters’ psyches would be best ahead of time, but too many of mine surprise me along the way. I’m inclined to see it for the quiet ones, the ones who don’t jump out and start sharing. Or for the characters that just puzzle you, when you know what they would say or do, but you don’t have a clue why.
I think, too, there is a danger of taking these psychological attributes that you figure out on the front end and using it to actually objectify and distance yourself from the character. Lord knows I often have trouble if I get too technical and scientific about it, I find myself slipping into the clinical objectivity I’ve been trained with–inserting that barrier between me and the character as if they are a patient I can’t afford to get too emotionally involved with. It makes it a challenge for me to get into their skin.