WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Carolyn Mulford on 5/25 and Liz Mugavero on 6/1. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Psychology and the Novelist
What story does your main character believe about himself?
Psychology Today contributor, llana Simons, Ph. D. is both a practicing psychologist and a literature professor. In her article, “A Therapist Should be a Good Storyteller,” (Psychology Today 7/21/10) Dr. Simons talks about the stories we tell ourselves. Her patient must deal with true but horrific circumstances of his past, keeping him angry and institutionalized. He’s quite sane. The story he tells about himself is true, but what impedes his advancement is his refusal to believe his story can change. Like a PTSD patient, he repeats the story without breaking the cycle of trauma. Little by little, Simons spins her patient new possibilities, changing the story of his future so he can break free of the past. The method she uses reminds her of how authors create stories.
Not only do characters need history for authenticity, they also need a perspective and a psychological framework through which the reader can understand and judge the character. What values does the character demonstrate? Is she a social climber, a church member, a perfectionist? How did those values become priorities? Finding out that the church member is really a hypocrite attending for appearances tweaks readers’ emotions. Some readers may be sympathetic, but many may be derisive. Answering these questions for your readers requires a little back story, but demonstrating these qualities within the context of your story shows the characters’ psychological makeup.
Tennessee Williams is the consummate author of demonstrating character psychology, which also drives his plots. His characters lie to each other and to themselves, but the truth is evident to the reader and in the end, to the characters as well. Williams’ plots test the stories of the characters and in doing so finds the truth.
Including characters’ psychological framework builds identities so that readers understand their intentions, motivations, and development. These characters are unique and memorable, every author’s goal.
Who are your favorite characters, and why are they memorable?