1. ladybean
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    ladybean New Member

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    How to depict abuse and mental illness...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ladybean, Nov 24, 2009.

    Hello all, I am new to the forum and am in search of some constructive advice on how to incorporate into my story two themes, namely mental illness and domestic abuse. The domestic abuse comes first in the story and the mental illness comes later.
    I am some things about domestic abuse and have been researching what kind of situations those who have been abused have found themselves in but I am unsure of creative ways to put it into the story without continuously describing step by step what happens every time a dispute or row takes place.
    Similarly, I am having a difficult time turning scenes where the character is having a psychotic episode into interesting text. With everything I write, I can see the scenes played out in my head like in a movie but find it hard to depict it without sounding repetitive or too descriptive. I hope someone may have some advice and I look forward to your reply. Thank you very much for your time :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are two aspects to writing such a scene.

    First, you have to be sufficiently familiar with these types of personalities and incidents to portray them accurately. Unfortunately, you won't get away with faking it. I say "unfortunately", because too many of your readers will know exactly what it is like, so you have to really know your stuff.

    The other aspect is being able to write a scene with emotional depth. That will take practice and experience with writing in general. It involves so many elements of writing that it is difficult to give specific pointers. However, for a scene where complex emotions are being played out, I'd suggest relying more on showing than on telling. Telling works best when what you are trying to convey can be accurately set forth in a few simple sentences. But showing lets the reader discover layers and subtlety without the writer spelling out a list of assertions. This may help: Show and Tell
     
  3. 180films
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    180films New Member

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    Hmmm, my first thoughts are story. What is the story of the abuse (kinds of abuse), or what were the events that conditioned the character in a particular way? Assuming the abused character doesn't know that his/her personal boundaries are beyond or lacking to social norms. The character becomes aware of the difference between themselves and the norm; this may cause the mental illness? Therefore the kind of abuse sets the stage for the kind of actions to SHOW the reader in a scene. Put yourself in that position and see what comes out.

    Or to flip it, maybe the character isn't aware that their behaviors are different. As the character discovers, "excepted behavior" does the real stress begin, which leads to illness.

    I am just going off on my own thoughts. I hope this was helpful.

    Erik
     
  4. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Firstly what perspective are you using, The way you write this will be completely different based on whether this is first or third party, third party for instance will allow you to describe the abuse scenes without too much graphic detail, by simply suggesting the scene, but may lack in getting across the emotional aspects of the scene, whereas a mental breakdown is very difficult to portray either way, I am speaking form experience that even after suffering form mental illnesses I still find difficulties in describing what actually happened, you need to research this a lot, but there are a lot of true life tales out there (in a similar vein to a Boy Called It) which deal with this sort of thing which can allow you to get a bit of insight into how this is portrayed and find out what it I really like
     
  5. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    My recommendation would be to study abuse and mental illness. And in that I mean reading articles detailing what causes both and what are the results. You would also need to study the different forms of abuse and mental illness and decide which ones work best for your story. Wikipedia is pretty good on detailing the differences in disorders while there's a number of very good articles on abuse on the Web. And do try to avoid the gratitious show of severe violence and craziness that I see in so many stories. Abuse and mental illness isn't just the extremes you see, but the day to day suffering that those who suffer from that experience.
     
  6. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Are you looking for a disease that comes out of the abuse? If so, I sugguest Multiple Personality Disorder, ODD, or conduct disorder, all of which are fairly easy. If you want them to be totally imobile you can do Shaken Baby Syndrom. Also look up "wild children" if that's where you're going.
     
  7. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    I don't think it should be difficult to portray a psychotic episode as exciting. They are very exciting. I think, as cogito said, the problem is portraying it accurately.
     

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