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All Things Writing & Publishing > Should an author be a one-third shrink and one-quarter sociologist?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13111 comments When you create characters and describe behavior while writing a book, you need those credible, even when you intend them to be or act ludicrously. Maybe some simplistic emotions, like sadness, joy or happiness, which we ourselves felt hundreds of times or watched others feeling, is not a big deal. Likewise, it's probably not something extraordinary to have a character with a single or a couple of distinctive features, be it hero or villain.
However, if you want to have something a little more complex like mixed emotions or multi-dimensional character, it becomes harder to achieve credibility without understanding their inner thinking and processes.
This makes me feel that an author sometimes needs to demonstrate at least intuitive understanding of basic psychology and sociology, especially when describing behavior he/she never performed or witnessed. Like what exposure did Agatha Christie had to murderers and detectives?
What do you think?


message 2: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13111 comments Dan wrote: "And as my writing group often agrees, writers are like a support group for self-loathers. If anyone's miserable from knowing too much, it's us...." I like this one -:)

Yeah, I guess being at least a natural observer is a must to be able to create a believable whatever, lacking which flair one can hardly be a good psychologist/sociologist/writer. But then again there are quite many not so good psychologists, and other professionals -:)


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13111 comments Dan wrote: "it doesn't matter if you don't explore something in full. If you're very aware of something and can reach peoples' feelings on the matter, you can outrage them and leave them hanging and that will do you favours...."

'Exploring in full' is probably more important for non-fiction. In fiction you just need to sound credible to make an impact


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments The simpler emotions are the most difficult to convey convincingly yet with originality. This is one reason why 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' and 'A Little Lfe' were heralded as overnight classics.


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13111 comments What do you think?


message 6: by M.L. (last edited Mar 04, 2017 12:00PM) (new)

M.L. Nik wrote: "When you create characters and describe behavior while writing a book, you need those credible, even when you intend them to be or act ludicrously. Maybe some simplistic emotions, like sadness, joy...

This makes me feel that an author sometimes needs to demonstrate at least intuitive understanding of basic psychology and sociology, especially when describing behavior he/she never performed or witnessed. Like what exposure did Agatha Christie had to murderers and detectives?
What do you think?
"


Yes, definitely. If you read And Then There Were None, for example, Agatha Christie's classic, the whole cast of characters has a past with at least one very bad act, and therefore the desire to cover it up. That's set off by the sort of 'avenging angel' type of character.

Also, her detective Hercule Poirot is often underestimated, he is conceited as well, and always looks for the motive(s) which generally gets down to the basic human emotions and how they tie to the victim.


message 7: by GR (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments If we all had to know psychology and sociology, we wouldn't write. I think we write because we must. If there is any insight that comes out, it's because it's part of our world. And that's how we see it.


message 8: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7093 comments Neither - best stick with being 110% story teller. :-).


message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9251 comments Neither. Be observant and be imaginative. Unless, of course, you want to write a psychology treatise. Agatha Christie's example is not psychology - that is story structure, which is also important.


message 10: by M.L. (new)

M.L. Can a story teller be immune to sociology and psychology as it translates to character motivation?


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9251 comments M.L., it depends what you mean. If you mean the academic approach, then my view is yes, but of course you have to write about how people behave under whatever circumstances.


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