Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

Having just read an interesting blog post about depression,  I was led to reflect upon how easy it is  to allow your own “principles” to override compassion, empathy and honesty about the reality of human life. This applies to all of us, but there is a special challenge here for those of us who write stories, and need to create convincing characters.

 We won’t get very far as writers if our fictional characters come over as wooden or contrived or artificial. To guard against that,  authors needs a basic understanding of psychology. That can come either through study, or through personal experience, or through observation. As I’ve mentioned before in posts on this blog, I feel that a knowledge of Jungian psychological concepts is useful. Here for example is Carl Jung’s theory of Complexes.

A complex, as developed in the writings of  Jung, may be defined as “a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions and wishes in the personal unconscious organised around a common theme such as power or status.” The notion of a “complex” may even be misused in common speech: we may too readily hear of someone described as having an inferiority / guilt / martyr complex. But this can be fruitful for a creative writer; though it has to be handled with care.

1. An inferiority complex may lead your character to interpret everything in the light of this set of notions: “I’m not good enough,” “my opinions don’t count”; “I’m afraid to put myself forward”. Take P.G.Wodehouse as an example; see Jeeves and The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy among numerous other stories. Here we often meet shy young men attempting to battle those who are louder, bigger, better-looking, more powerful and more self-confident, to win the girl they love.

2. Often,whether a fictional character displays a certain complex can be a matter of interpretation by the reader. I suggest a martyr complex may be behind the outlook and actions of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Tess behaves like a heroic martyr sacrificing herself. Many readers may feel Tess casts herself in the role of victim.

3. The guilt complex is used extensively in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Many characters experience intense guilt; but the exception to this is Smerdyakov who murders Fyodor yet does not blame himself; though he’s the only character technically guilty, he feels the least liability for it. Thus the author sheds light on some of his own religious questions and doubts.

So there’s plenty of inspiration here for fiction writers, as we  develop characters who will inspire love, pity, fury or even soul-searching in our readers. Our job is to create characters we know and care about as much as ourselves. As crime writer Martin Edwards says in his article on “Developing Characters and Their Relationships”,  “characters in books don’t exist in a vacuum, just as real people don’t. To create characters that seem to live and breathe, taking care over how they relate to other people in the story isn’t just a sensible idea. It’s absolutely vital.”  And if we try to let “principles” stand in the way of compassion & empathy, we can be sure our own stories will find us out!

Comments on: "Mental and Emotional Byways, Complexes and Hang-Ups in Fictional Characters" (2)

  1. […] Mental and Emotional Byways, Complexes and Hang-Ups in Fictional Characters (scskillman.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. […] Mental and Emotional Byways, Complexes and Hang-Ups in Fictional Characters (scskillman.com) Share this:EmailFacebookRedditDiggTwitterStumbleUponTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Life, On Writing and tagged character development, Emotion, Experience, writing. Bookmark the permalink. ← Sorry I’ve been incommunicado […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Thoughts by Mello-Elo

Books, Poems, Stories...and a cup of coffee, or two!

MsCellany

Old enough to know better

Heavenfield

Exploring Early Medieval Landscapes

Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

WordzNerd Debz

Buzz about writing and publishing! Tips and tricks!

Some call it red

My words are ornamental.

Ajoobacats Blog

Eclectic book reviews for readers on the go

Fabulous Realms

Worlds of Fantasy, Folklore, Myth and Legend

BooksAndBookmarks

You cant buy HAPPINESS, but you can buy BOOKS and thats kind of the same thing.

Lance Greenfield

Author of Eleven Miles

Ramona Crisstea

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream

300 stories

A continuing mission to produce flash fiction stories in 300 words (or less)

The Review Board

Where Honesty Never Ends.

Ethereal Nature

The interface of the metaphysical, the physical, and the cultural

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 470 other followers

%d bloggers like this: