Saturday, August 10, 2013

Psychology: A Starting Point for Characterization

As a writer I constantly worry about characterization. Plot and making up stories comes easily to me, but making my characters be three-dimentional, realistic and change through the course of a novel is one of the most difficult things about writing. It's a reason for constant headache.

Creating realistic characters is hard for me because they can't be carbon-copy's of me. They have to be their own unique person. But how am I suppose to write someone who isn't me? Psychology has been a great tool in doing that.

As I'm sure many of you know, psychology is the study of the human brain and behaviours. One aspect  of psychology is "personality". The idea that while we are all different, we share common characteristic with one another. There are many different theories that list the different "types" of personalities. (You'll be surprised that these theories have many things in common.)

Reading about these theories has helped me understand how other people work and think. I get a glimpse into they motivations and goals. When I great a character, I see what "type" of personality they fit into, and use that as a starting point in shaping my characters.

I know that some people believe personality theories are a form of labeling and grouping people. I believe that to an extent myself, which is why I try to consult a group of theories when creating my character. I take titbits from various personality descriptions. I don't think anything I read as set in stone; its more of a basic outline I use to better understand my character.

Psychology is my starting point in creating my character. Then I use my character backstory and motivations to create the three dimensional person I hope to showcase in my story.

If your interested in reading about various theories and how they apply to characterization, read the post I wrote for Hexbound, titled,"PACT on Character Psychology".  In it I've included brief descriptions to a few theories, and links to websites with further information.

What do you think? Have you had to do any psychology research for your characters? Continue the conversation below! 

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