I have long believed that a working knowledge of psychological theories can really benefit a writer’s perspective. However, not all of us can afford a psychology degree or hours spent picking through Google results trying to make sense of half a dozen websites on the subject.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to present a new regular series on this blog called Freudian Script, where I’ll try to break down some key psychological concepts that writers might find use for.
And why might these things be useful? Well…
1) How will my character react?
People do things for a reason. Now, this might not be a conscious reason and it might be a completely spurious reason if it were examined logically, but these reasons exist in their conscious and unconscious minds. By naming and categorising these reactions, writers can manipulate them into producing more conflict, driving the action, or simply showing that a character has matured over the course of a narrative.
2) What issues is my character dealing with?
When placed in difficult situations, characters react – often instinctively, often unconsciously. But what are they reacting to? External conflict can be easy to name, but internal conflict might be harder to put your finger on. There are typical issues that emerge in particular situations or at certain times of life – by utilising this knowledge, writers can create fears and frustrations that resonate with audiences.
3) How does my character relate to other people?
Relationships are key to characters’ wellbeing – and great sources of conflict. By understanding the dynamics of relationships, writers can use these concepts to unlock previously undiscovered levels of relational drama!
Of course, you might just want to write a really accurate and sensitive portrayal of mental illness, and I am always happy to support folk in their quest to do that.
The first post will be up later this week and will be on the theme of Defence Mechanisms. If there are any particular topics you’d be interesting in seeing here, please hit me up in comments, or by e-mail or Twitter.
(NOTE: despite the title of this series, I won’t be spending a lot of time dwelling on Freud. While he was a pioneer for modern psychology and psychiatry, most of his theories are regarded as outdated at best and probably say a lot more about his own personal issues than people in general.)