1. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    How to write a psychological novel without getting boring...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GoldenFeather, Jan 28, 2013.

    Hey writers,

    I wrote a novel about a girl struggling with a disorder, but I find that sometimes it can get boring. You can only hold a person's interest for so long before this repetitive depression gets boring. There is not really a climax I can build. Do you have any advice or tips on how to avoid writing a boring story when the entire novel focuses on how a person struggles with the same disorder for 60,000 words?

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you, as the writer, find it boring, everyone else will, too. Perhaps you picked the wrong subject matter. I'm not sure what disorder you're referencing, but you probably have to make it a part of the character, while the character is dealing with something else -- i.e. the plot. The plot can be internal, and can be largely *caused* by the disorder.

    You need to give some more thought as to what it is you want to write about. Maybe put this aside for a while and try to write something else. If, however, this is the story you want, what is it about the character you want to convey?
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think the key is that the story should not be about the disorder, but about some other struggle in which the disorder is intertwined. A good example is the film "Flight", in which the story line is about how Denzel Washington's character is going to get through the investigation of his crash; we all know that's secondary to his addressing his addiction problem, but the story doesn't present that way.

    Someone suffering from clinical depression is fighting a daily battle against the depression, but your story needs to focus on the aspects of his/her life that the depression interferes with. Pick a profession - actor, musician, politician, accountant, attorney - you can come up with a plot that involves struggle, suspense and either triumph or tragedy, and in which the depression plays a part.

    Good luck. I hope you come up with something that succeeds in protraying this grossly misunderstood and often underestimated disorder.
     
  4. spartan928
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    spartan928 Member

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    What you describe is a story with no arc. It is plodding along with our heroine lady struggling with the antagonist depression. There are loads of novels and movies in which the antagonist is clearly a disease or social condition rather than something or someone external to your main character. It's not impossible to construct your story with depression as the main antagonist but try to see it as such apart from your main character. That is, envision it as it's own character. The antagonist depression is working to pull down and destroy the MC but she will not allow it (or whatever you see happening). It eats away at her relationships, her career until there is nothing left but her and her depression. Then, when she is literally in the gutter something happens that gives her strength to fight back. She does and wins...or loses and the tragedy of depression teaches the reader something important.

    It has to reflect your understanding and vision. And most importantly it needs to have dramatic arcs that elevate the curiosity and interest of the reader, keeping them wondering what is going to happen next. Depression cannot speak or walk or fly. But it becomes real through the consequences of the behavior of the MC. Consequences which she may have little control of because of its tight grip on her. Be dramatic, be brutal, but always move forward to some kind of resolution good or bad for the protagonist.

    Try this out. Give the antagonist depression a voice. Let it speak. Try some scenes in which you give this character some life and see what it would say and do to your MC. You don't have to use it in your story, or you could, its your choice. But it may take you in some interesting directions. What if depression was so selfish it wanted the MC all to itself? What if it never wanted her to leave the house? What voice would it have? What if the character was too weak to fight? What would it it take to fight back?
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, unless you're writing nonfiction about the disorder, it should be treated as a facet of the character, not the focus.
     
  6. AndyB
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    AndyB Member

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    ^what he said

    although you are writing about a person struggling with a disorder that's not the story.

    the story is about a person and what they are doing or planning and how the disorder gets in the way/is overcome by them to reach a final goal (win or loose) in the last chapter.

    This is what you use as your vehicle of exposition, maybe they want to go to college and many interesting situations can exist there for your protagonist to explore the limits and restrictions of the illness.

    Another suggestion; depending on the age you could use the disorders features to expose a back history of the character and her family the 'what if i had done this' daydreams many depressed people get. this need not fix you to flashbacks as she can imagine what normal life is like from her skewed perspective, the daydreams becoming a sort of 'flash forwards' of a possible life if she can overcome.

    you give very little information in your post to go on but by the sound of it you are suffering from repetition by confining your book to too small a stage.

    not enough different circumstance are included to reflect the many and varied aspects of the disorder she suffers from nor are you confronting the stigma and preconceptions held by society.

    hope you find what i've said of use, as someone who works with people facing the challenges of mental illness i would be interested in reading it when your finished
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ed's right and the others give good advice too. Here's my two cents. Never allow your character to be
    'horse-whipped' throughout your story. Meaning don't throw every problem, delimma, woe-is-me
    moment at her without a let up. Life is full of highs and lows, tears and laughter. You're focus
    could be too much on all the hinderances of her problem instead of successes.
     
  8. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    you need suspense~
    That is the key element, a perfect balance of making the reader be interested in reading further because of something you bring to their attention
     
  9. AndyB
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    AndyB Member

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    I wish there was a facebook style 'like' on forums as it would save a lot of comments saying 'i agree' but yes, life is not one flat line, ups and downs happen even in someone who is depressed - good days and bad days ect
     
  10. names
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    names Member

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    I think by reading both books and concept-ssince a lot of them might not exist right now, you can help write something compelling. I'd make it unpredictable and without using cliches. Sometimes cliches might inspire a idea.

    Since suspense is important in this genre here is a copy of something I read and I quoted by bel maine:

    This is the definition according to him of suspense. He wrote a reference book I currently own.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can add to someone's reputation. Just click on the little icon that looks like a sherriff's star under his/her name and photo/avatar. You can also make a comment.
     
  12. AndyB
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    yea i know, i've admin'd forums in the past as large as this so am fairly conversant in how they work but one disadvantage of rep is it doesn't directly relate to the post, its just an ego booster.

    where as likes add weight to an argument, if a thread of comments has 15 comments and one has 25 likes to the rest's none you are going to give that post more credence than the rest, and as i said just posting 'i agree' is clumsy even if you do give reasons
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber. It's a true story about a patient with dissociative disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder), with the names changed for patient confidentiality. It is anything but boring, and may give you some ideas on how to write your story.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to make it a readable/marketable novel, you need to have a 'story' to set this character into...
    what is the premise you based your book on?
    what changes for her between the beginning and the end?
    did she have some goal she wanted to reach?
    did she have a specific problem she needed to overcome [other than her handicap]?
    is there an antagonist trying to keep her from doing either of those two things?
     

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