When Sidekicks Take Centre Stage

In any fictional universe, the world revolves around the protagonist. Any "extras", sidekicks or love interests are very much subservient to the hero - though, if they are well-realised, they all think they're looking out for their own interests. It's only the writer who is leading them on to serve the hero and the narrative. Over at the Crime Readers' Association website, I wrote about Supporting Cast: Breathing Life into Secondary Characters. I even made reference to my favourite Hark, a vagrant webcomic. I mentioned Cerys Carr, who started life as nothing more than a gobby teenage sister to one of my protagonists and ended up playing a major part in Code Runner. She's also prominent in Book #3, and shows no sign of fading away. The beauty of a well-developed supporting cast of "sidekicks" to your hero is that they can leap to the fore at any moment. In television, this may even progress to them gaining their own show - for...
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Freudian Script: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Today on Freudian Script, we are exploring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - aka PTSD. Unlike other topics I've detailed, PTSD has a lot of Hollywood exposure - it's dramatic, it's visual, and it can throw your sober sensible "normal" character into a hellish irrational out-of-character orgy of chaos. With this post, I want to highlight the areas that Hollywood often glosses over and which can serve the writer interested in authenticity. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. What is PTSD? PTSD is a stress condition arising after a trauma - a definition which surprises precisely no one. Historically, it was first noted after the First World War, when it was termed "shell shock" or "war neuroses". During the Vietnam War, interest in the condition increased due to the frequency of its occurrence and it was more openly acknowledged and studied....
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Freudian Script: Psychosis

Welcome to a new series of Freudian Script, where I delve into psychology and psychiatry for writers. My focus over the next few weeks will be on common mental health disorders, including basic facts, common portrayals in fiction, and how writers can accurately and sensitively tackle these diseases in their work. DISCLAIMER: This blog post is designed for writers of fiction. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has symptoms of mental health problems, please see your doctor. My first topic is PSYCHOSIS. Frequently misunderstood and misrepresented by writers and journalists alike, psychosis covers myriad diseases and comes in many varieties. Psychosis is NOT psychopathy - the terms "psychotic" and "psychopathic" are not the same thing, though these terms are frequently (and inaccurately) used interchangeably. While I will discuss psychopathy and sociopathy at a later date, we will concentrate on psychosis for now. What is psychosis? In the broadest sense, psychosis is the inability to distinguish what is real and what...
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Freudian Script: 5 Mature Defence Mechanisms of Well-Adjusted Characters

To start my series on psychology for writers, I thought I'd take a meaty topic that will have practical uses for all your characters, irrespective of genre or medium. What are defence mechanisms? You're wandering along in your own little world. Life is good. You're happy, content, satisfied. WHAM! Suddenly, everything gets turned on its head - you have been hit by An Inciting Incident. How do you react? Something has threatened your state of wellbeing, provoking something inside you, and you need to get rid of this ugly feeling. So, our unconscious mind defends you - and not always in healthy ways. Psychoanalysts (the school of psychology founded by Freud) have formed a list of common defence mechanisms and divided them up. The most common divisions are mature, immature, neurotic and pathological. (NOTE: while this topic is based in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychological principles, I'm going to skip over the theories behind the development of these reactions and concentrate on their possible manifestations and...
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