Psychology and Human Nature in Writing.
As we travel the road on characterization, dialogue and other issues to make successful novels, the next path is about the combination of psychology and human nature. I got criticized recently over my character being too indecisive and not making a decision, which turned the person off to the introduction.
Well, let's go into the psychology of people's behavior. When human beings are faced with stressful, emotionally destructive situations, rational thought goes out the window, and we get conflicted. If someone we love was sacrificing themselves for us, there'd be tendency to move towards them before moving away. This is caused by our psychological desire to remain close to those who provide emotional comfort and fulfillment.
Characters' moral confusion and pain when faced with situations that go beyond normal societal mores are a psychological issue. For example, the pain Kate feels about having to kill. That comes from where our rational aspect of our minds collides with the buried base tendencies to destroy, cause pain, be selfish and anything anathema to our ingrained aspect of society and morals.
Where does this feeling of mores, and morals, come from? While society influences the aspects externally, as does our parents and other family members, our psychological desire to belong, to be accepted by people drives that desire too. These factors need to be considered when writing about character's, which is why their background is so important, because it lists what kind of mores are added to their desire to belong.
As for the base nature, let's dig into that that. All humans, whether they want to admit it to themselves or not, have a base nature that's selfish, destructive, and violent. It's from this part of us where you get things like Columbine, Va. Tech and the Denver shootings. Insanity is a combination of the rational side of the brain being overcome, and mixed with the base nature in unhealthy ways. So, you're asking: how does this tie into writing?
The base nature is the part that drives the uncivilized, violent aspects of our being. If the character loves killing-then it's because their nature is override the rational part of their mind. We all struggle to keep from allowing the base/animal side from overruling our rational side, but it's also necessary to our being too. Without it, we'd have a hard time making decisions because the rational side would waffle back and forth trying to decide what to do. The Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within" explores this concept, and I highly recommend seeing it to understand the concept.
The last part of things is our subconscious, which rules while asleep-and controls our thought processes at times to. It's a strange mix of our rational with base nature, and can trend more towards our base nature. Another example to see explored is the classic sci-fi moving "Forbidden Planet." While they used the Fruedian ID/EGO/SUPER EGO, it still carries this example.
For the younger writers, who haven't lived long enough to get a grasp on human nature-and psychology-a short study on the subject will help your characterization tremendously. It'll take a couple days, but allow one to get a firm grasp on why your character thinks/feels and how it affects their ability to make decisions.
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