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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Characterization and Psychology

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

Last time, we wrote about ice cream and characterization. Did I make you hungry for more (pun obviously intended)? Well, let’s feed that hunger with some healthy sustenance. Psychology—the protein of solid characterization. No, seriously. You heard me right. In order to write compelling characters, you need to have strength in the way you ‘draw’ them. You need to understand that character.

I understand people. Maybe it’s a gift, maybe it’s my degree. I’m often able to see past the action to the source that triggered the reaction. And that is exactly what we need to do in our writing. Scramble up some eggs, er emotion, and craft your character in a compelling way. Add some sausage (yeah, the artery-clogging stuff)—quirks—for flavor. Recently, I encountered a scene where I floundered, wondering what my heroine would do in response to a situation. Not knowing her well enough impeded the “feel” of that scene and made me realize I’d lost touch with my heroine. So I stepped back, grabbed my archetype book, and dug into rediscover my heroine.

The archetypes, whether you call them that or personality types, define a character’s personality, actions, emotions, and reactions. There are many different names given to the types. Some include Type A, introvert, extrovert, sensitive, thinking, sanguine, melancholy, the warrior, the hero, the maiden, etc. Those personality types need to be understood to know what is believable or realistic for your character to do. If your heroine is not an aggressive personality type, it’s probably not very likely she’ll confront the person railroading her. Without this protein in your writing, you’ll find your plot weak, the motivations flavorless, and your characters lifeless. So, add some psychology/protein and give your writing a boost!!

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

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