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  1. thescarletraven
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    thescarletraven New Member

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    Need Help Describing Hatred, Jealousy and Insanity

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by thescarletraven, Mar 29, 2014.

    I know the title imply's I should be phoning mental health and not asking for help in writing a character. The thing is that I have never written a character quite like George.
    Here's the deal on George:

    He lives in eighteenth century England and is an aristocrat whose father gambled away most of the family money, leaving George shouldering a lot more responsibility than his friends did. He was left taking care of his younger sister and mother at an early age.

    He is seen as trustworthy, mild and a little straight laced by his friends. He smiles and says nothing but inside he's seething. He hates every one and is jealous of what other people have.

    He's especially jealous of his best friend who always seemed to have what George could never have. You know, the golden boy? George especially coveted his best friend's wife and while his friend was out of town tending to business he went to his best friend's house to confess his love for the wife in hopes that she would run away with him. But that didn't happen, so in a rage he killed her and hid her body on his friend's estate, which they found a few days later.

    He was feeling a kind of satisfaction to see his best friend finally suffer, except now he's having hallucinations of the wife coming back to haunt him.

    My problem is this:

    How do show this man's mind set? His anger, his seething hatred and the slow decent into insanity? (Too many cliches? Heh.)

    I have always reading about characters like these and have dreamed about writing about one, but I really have nothing to compare it to.

    PLEASE help!

    Thank you

    M.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You show it by showing his thoughts and actions. The jealousy and insanity will come through.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, before the murder I'd say George would be a classic passive-aggressive, only he would be trying to hide it from his friend. Typically, one would communicate via sly remarks, jibes, saying something positive in a critical manner etc but George might be doing this in a way his friend doesn't necessarily notice (because he is interested in his wife, so he can't really antagonise his friend openly). He might gossip behind his back, trying, consciously or unconsciously, to ruin his reputation and turn others against him. He'd dress this up as 'concern' rather than gossip, though. He would typically be excessively nice to someone's face (someone who can do something for him) then over the top losing it with someone who isn't important to him, like maybe at another driver who cut him off in traffic or similar. George's internal monologue would be very different from his dialogue, cynical, cruel, mocking, hateful etc, so you can show the two friends interacting like any two friends would and his friend being none the wiser of what's going on in George's head.

    George also sounds like a bit of an inadequate person, almost stalker-ish in his closeness to his worse enemy and the object of his desire. Perhaps he installs a hidden camera in his friend's house somewhere, and watches the wife? He reminds me of a character in the first series of 'The Killing' and second series of 'The Bridge'.

    George also seems narcissistic, he feels 'entitled' to things his friend has but is refusing to accept that maybe he doesn't try as hard, isn't as attractive or 'worthy' of her, but he focuses on his friend as an 'obstacle' and expects the woman to fall into his arms. When she doesn't he lashes out in a rage and/or (attempted?) rape, and kills her. Maybe he'd also try to set his friend up, then you have the whole relationship turn nasty, as the friend slowly catches on, but by this stage nobody believes him because he's the prime suspect.

    The only thing I'm not buying, ie. what isn't consistent with such a personality is the pseudohallucinations you describe. George sounds like someone who wouldn't be feeling much guilt or remorse, and usually those two are responsible for disturbances of perception such as you describe (for example in The Machinist, but that guy was very, very different from George).
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
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  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I'm not buying the hallucinations either. Dreams (or nightmares) possibly; paranoia about getting caught, yes; even thinking he sees her out of the corner of his eye (which many people do after the death of someone close). People like George don't have to be "insane" or "become insane" because of actions like these. The guy is a murderer, and killed out of the most basic of human emotions - anger and jealousy. Run with that and don't go dipping in the cliche pool.
     
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  5. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. Making your murderer out to be insane is an excuse for the rest of us to let ourselves off the hook-- i.e., "I'm not like that!" It weakens your story. You want to show the ordinary humanity of the man or woman who kills and give your reader the uncomfortable but healthy feeling that if pushed to a similar point he or she might do the same.

    My work in revision features a good-girl protagonist who at one point is on the verge of murdering her fiancee for being unfaithful to her. Well then, you might say, she's not so good. But before I'm done I hope to show that her "goodness" consists in her realizing how bad she can be and getting a grip and growing from it.

    In your story, @thescarletraven, how does George (Sir George?) treat his mother and sister? Showing that will develop his character and make us believe what he does with the friend's wife. Does he try to marry his sister off to some fop or cad she doesn't like, all in the name of doing what's loving and best for her? Does he see his mother the dowager as an ally or an obstacle?

    Whatever you do, don't take the easy insanity way out with your killer. Better to send him to Tyburn than to Bedlam.

    (Or, since he's an aristocrat, would that be to the Tower? :oops: )
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
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  6. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    When I'm angry with someone I know, but don't care about, I envision doing some terrible things to them. My body tightens up and I have to deliberately keep my jaw open to avoid clenching and grinding my teeth.
     
  7. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Do you know anyone that works in the mental health field? Or maybe a psychologist that you could talk to?
     
  8. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Are you talking to me or the OP. I know I have anger issues (a decade and a half of child abuse can do that), but I don't act on them.
     
  9. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    the OP!

    I think everyone has issues.
     
  10. Gemini_Genie
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    Gemini_Genie Member

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    I think the best example of what you're trying to do would Oscar Wilde's, "Dorian Gray". Dorian wasn't really jealous of anything anybody had but over the course of story he really did start to go off the deep end. He believed his beauty, youth and wealth made him indestructible. He hurt people. Cast them aside. Did things he would never have done otherwise if he hadn't ever had the portrait painted and let Basil whisper sweet nothings in his ear.

    Another story you could take some inspiration from would be Edgar Allen Poes, "The House of Usher". (Correct title?) Old man Usher was a crazy, wealthy old coot who lived in a derelict. It doesn't say how he got that way but you can just imagine him sitting there looking like an ancient version of the 'cracked' Howard Hughes with the long yellow nails and piss bottles everywhere. >:3 I love watching people go nuts in books and movies.

    You've already got the right idea it seems like from your description. :D When people start to 'go' it's something that happens gradually usually. Seeing the face of the woman he killed like someone mentioned above could be apart of paranoia at getting caught as well as an emotional torture knowing he slayed the object of his affections.
     
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  11. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    When I've done something regrettable (did I say when? I meant IF :D) I usually do so in a manner that I wouldn't get caught. One hint, one whiff that perhaps I forgot something, perhaps something that's ultimately meaningless and just generally won't mean anything to anyone, I begin imagining how that little thread can be traced back to me (when ultimately, normal people aren't the forensics team from CSI) and I begin panicking in my mind even though my outward appearance is normal, I begin choosing my words so that I don't seem eager to seem innocent whilst not saying anything suspicious.

    That one hint can be some of the smallest stuff that it would take a man smarter than monk (from the TV show) to somehow make use of and I don't mean leaving something behind.

    Also, since you mentioned murder, based on how violent or painful the death was, it wouldn't be strange that George would fear that his friend might try to visit the same pain on him and he might begin to get fearful that his friend wants to ambush him so he can do just that.

    The best way to show that he's feeling confident is to make him a little obsessive compulsive, he'll try and fix anything he touched, wipe everything clean of fingerprints, perhaps even check the windows to see if someone can look in on what just happened...perhaps someone can...did he pull the curtains all the way? What about that little crack up there near the top where the curtains meet, is it possible someone can look in? What about the windows in the doors? Did someone manage a peek? In general, he'd be extremely paranoid immediately after the act and because of it, have extreme OCD about cleaning up the evidence.
     
  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly, only leaving out wiping away the fingerprints. In the 18th century, our ancestors were still clueless about such things.
     
  13. Shayla
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    Shayla Member

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    It sounds like you could be writing something rather scary and disturbing. I would advise reading some books by Dennis Kelly. He specialises in plays but that's all the better in helping you as you want to know how George will think and feel and Dennis Kelly is very good at writing characters who are realistic in their disturbing thoughts.



    'After the end' in particular might inspire you as it is about a man who takes a woman down into a room with no windows. She wakes up and he claims the world upstairs is dead and there's been nucleur explosions that have killed everyone and he bought her into this bomb proof room to save them. Ofcourse he's lying and is totally obsessed with her.
     
  14. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Following the footprints in the sand...
    One thing to consider is a character's inner monologue. Face it, this is something we all do. People wear masks, keep their true feelings hidden. Start at a basic level, look at your own pet peeves, (not saying you're going to go out and throttle anyone...;)), but what triggers an attack of temper. What causes a situation that leaves you seething on the inside, but a patently false smile shining on the outside?

    For me: There are a rare few among the populace who assume that just because I work at a bookstore, I must be stupid, lazy, or uneducated. There are others who compound the aforementioned, by playing the I have to condescend and talk to a girl card.

    Blatant, rude ignorance is one thing that pushes my buttons. I nod, smile and am exceedingly polite. It's the whole kill them with kindness thing. Usually by the time they're done with me, they have reached a point where they are civil to the cashier.

    Keep those situations in mind. What were your emotions at the time? This gives you a frame of reference for sane emotions. It's a good jumping of point, but you've included insanity in the list. That takes emotions to a whole new level, an exponential expansion.

    You need to know your character. Is George a sociopath, a psychopath, or simply insane because of some underlying mental illness? His father was a gambling addict, how much of that was due to a mental illness such as bipolar depression? Back then mental illness wasn't diagnosed and treated; it was hidden away. Not much was known about it. It was stigmata. But one connection made at that time was madness, as they referred to mental illness, ran in families.

    You need to determine whether or not George is a sociopath. Does he have any empathy or is he truly just a raging beast? This can determine the pyschological basis for your entire character because if he is, indeed, possessed of empathy and emotions, his motives for the murder would have been very different than if he were, in fact, a true sociopath. The psychopath takes it even further.

    Nearly 4% of the American population are sociopaths. The numbers are frightening. A good book to check out is The Sociopath Next Door; it's both, intriguing and frightening. Also check out Confessions of a Sociopath. Get a little insight into the various mind sets and compare them to your own. Do you want George in possession of the coveted empathy?
     
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  15. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^
    This.

    Then go on to consider: What would push Sir George over the edge so he could no longer smile and be polite on the outside? What would induce him to lash out?

    Similar to @Darkkin, I hate being patronized. I honestly believe I can trace most of my screw-ups in life to allowing people to get away with that with me. But given my character, I do allow it-- in public at least-- until a patronizer invades my physical space and starts laying his or her hands on me. Then watch out. I haven't cold-cocked anyone yet, but I have told some people off for it. Not proud of it, but there it is.

    So think: How bad would it have to be for Sir George not to be able to put up with it anymore? Would "anyone" feel the same way under the circs (that is, is this the reaction of an ordinary sinful human being)-- or are his triggers quick and strange and erratic (that is, is he mad)?
     

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