Daily Archives: December 20, 2010

A Question of Values

So I finally took the plunge back into revising Sophie. My last revision notes were taken in early July. It’s a slow process, but absolutely worthwhile. I’m making sure the plot is full of tension and I’m deepening all the characters.

I’ve been giving the antagonist a lot of thought, too. According to various sources, the antagonist should be created in much the same way as the main character. S/he needs values, conflicts, goals (both abstract and concrete) and other qualities to make her/him human. So, in thinking about Giselle’s values I wondered if values change over time based on life experience, or rather do you keep your values but express them differently in changing circumstances.

RocketMan and I attended a cocktail party in our neighborhood the other night. One of our neighbors is a clinical psychologist and I posed my question about values to her. She gave me the example of one of her patients who thought she would react to a certain situation in one way, but actually responded in a different way because of deeply felt values she didn’t realize she still held. My psychologist friend said that while we may try to think through a situation with our heads, our hearts can’t help but be connected.

In other words, we think we change our values, but we can’t completely let go of the values we were raised with.

This thinking opens up some really interesting avenues for Giselle. Wouldn’t it be fun for her to hold the same values as one of the other characters (Louise, the MC’s sister in the past, for example)? But after all she has been through, Giselle would want to react differently now, but would still have to react, at least partially, in a way defined by those long-held values or beliefs. What a contrast that could make!

Psychology is fascinating to me. A good understanding of psychology is absolutely essential for a writer. It just opens up so many possibilities that I can’t wait to explore as I continue my revision process.

For more on psychology for writers, please check out LB Diamond’s Mental Health Monday posts, The Writer’s Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD, and Margie Lawson’s online body language and editing courses.

Feel free to add more resources in the comments.

Thanks to all who help me see what is in the heads and hearts of my characters!

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