Diagnose Your Character!

I recently “discovered” an interesting read in my Amazon WishList: How To Diagnose Your Character: Using Psychology To Create an In-Depth Character by Joshua Hoyt. While I can’t remember who it was that recommended this book to me, I will now be recommending it to all my writing friends as well.

Hoyt gives an excellent overview of psychology, with examples and writing exercises to help apply different theories and facts to fictional characters to make them more rounded and believable. While the psychology was a review for me as a once-upon-a-time psychology major, it helped me put to words the things I was trying to say about some of my more complex characters, and helped me to develop some of the ones I was struggling to “diagnose.”

Thanks again, Mr. King.

Today I was snooping around on Twitter (because I’m ever so patiently waiting on the results of a contest I entered), and on the Twitter page of the contest in question, I happened upon a Stephen King quote I’d once read and then forgotten.

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Jello and rice, I love that man. He inspired me to start writing seriously four years ago, and here is he again, unknowingly cheering me on when I need it the most.

529669_590975838710_818247314_nFor the past couple of years I’ve been working on a fiction novel that deals with the reality of human trafficking. I wrote the first draft for Nanowrimo 2013, and then walked away because…well, the narrative was pure cheese. But then, I was determined to finish it. It was loosely based on my first story idea from ten years previously about a crime family, and that it developed into something more stemmed from my own troubled conviction that the issue of human trafficking is not getting the attention it deserves.

So I started to rewrite it, determinedly so, at the beginning of this year, with the patient advice from both the Writer’s Group and my classmates and tutors from the grad program in creative writing I’m enrolled in through distance education. So many changes have come over this novel. The narrative has gone from cheese to something with potential. And let me tell you, for a girl who was once upon a time satisfied with cheese, this is a scary thing.

But what’s more, and what makes me spend weeks avoiding work on this project (hence my “summer of short stories”), is the central issue of the book. I have do research, and should be keeping myself in the know, as it were, about human trafficking. But this is perhaps the most emotionally draining thing I’ve ever tried to do. Not to mention haunting.604114_590975853680_1940089604_n

But this quote. Thanks, Mr. King. This was my own conviction this week. I told myself last night I need to stop being a coward, get on with my research, and finish my novel.

I like to refer to Mr. King as my first “writing mentor” through his excellent book “On Writing,” so it seems fitting this quote would show up this morning.

Ironically, the story I entered into the contest is my first completed fiction story about trafficking. Hello, Fate! What are you up to? -LLP/EFP