Psychology has always interested me. I remember in Year 11 being enthralled in Psych class learning about psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, dreams and the unconscious mind, and still today I find it interesting.
Although I didn’t go onto study Psychology, part of me wishes I had. I find myself drawn to the way people think and act and I think this is part of the reason I wanted to write, particularly fiction.
In my head my characters are real, they have to be. If they are not real to me they certainly won’t be to my reader. I see them in my imagination, how they look, how they dress, their personality, their body language. Then I delve inside their mind to see what they are feeling. Their sensitivities and vulnerabilities, their stubbornness and opinions. I examine what makes them who they are, how they deal with certain situations, how they harbour regrets and hold hope. To me they are freely wandering around in my subconscious continually developing, changing, becoming real. I haven’t got to the point yet where I have spoken to them, but I have no doubt I could hold a conversation with them. Does that make me a little crazy? Possibly, but I’m okay with that.
One of the challenges of a writer is to create characters that are real. Characters need to draw the reader in either by being relatable in actions, thoughts or circumstance or otherwise by being intriguing. The writer must make a connection between the character and the reader that urges them to want to read on and follow the journey right through to the end.
Of course there are many components that make a book worth reading, not only the characters. There needs to be narrative flow, a powerful plot, a sense of mystery and the writing needs to speak to the reader. But for me, it is the characters that can make the difference between a great read and a mediocre one.
Once again it goes back to my love of psychology and human behaviour. If it weren’t a little weird, I could sit all day and just people watch! Thankfully for society, I instead grab a great book and watch the characters unfold in front of me. I can analyse them, deconstruct them, get frustrated or angry with them, and cry, laugh and walk through the story alongside them.
And it’s not only fiction. I think many of us have a secret love of people watching, which is why blogging is so popular. We love seeing into others’ lives. Seeing how they live, how they feel, their experiences, their similarities and their differences. It is almost the socially acceptable form of stalking!
I am yet to know if my characters are going to be as intriguing to others as they are to me, and only time will tell. The best compliment I could get as a writer would be that my characters are compelling. Hopefully, this one day author will get the chance to feel those such accolades.
What makes a book a good read to you?
And what do you see in that inkblot?