Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Writer's Guide to Psychology

I apologize for not posting Monday and Wednesday. I had less time to get online during my business trip than I anticipated. However, I did make a slight dent in my reading pile. One of the books I read was The Writer's Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman, whom I've "met" through QueryTracker and the blog chain. I bought it back in December or so when it was first available on Kindle.

Do your characters suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder? (And if they don't, will they after the events in your book? Whoops, wrong topic.) What makes a sociopath act the way he does? What kinds of help do your mentally ill characters need? Kaufman's book is a great place to look for answers. She's not just a psychologist but a fiction writer as well. She starts by examining some common misconceptions people have about mental illness and psychologists. (Throughout the book, she also provides examples of psychology gone wrong in books, TV, and movies.) Then she describes what therapists and therapy sessions are like. Several chapters are devoted to the various types of disorders, along with treatments. There's even a special chapter for every writer's favorite villain, the psychopath.

The book is written for a layperson, and there's a glossary at the back. After reading this book, a writer will be able to properly identify what disorder a particular character might have, describe his symptoms accurately, and even mention what drugs he might be taking and their possible side effects. My only complaint is that there were a couple of places where the sections ended abruptly, as if a couple lines were omitted. Also, in one of the examples, a name had been replaced with the word "less" several times; it looks as if someone did a Find-and-Replace without checking the substitutions. Despite these minor issues (I don't know if they're also in the paper copy), this book would be a valuable guide for a writer of any genre.

I am able to loan my Kindle copy out once to someone, so if you'd like to read mine and have a Kindle or Kindle app, please leave your e-mail address below. The first person to respond will get it. If you don't get it, it's certainly worth buying your own copy.

The A-Z Blogging Challenge starts tomorrow. If you're participating, good luck! I prepared a topic list when I first signed up, but I only have six posts scheduled so far. I don't expect to get around to every blogger in this challenge, but I'm looking forward to meeting some new people.


Sierra Gardner said...

I'm adding that book to my Amazon wishlist. And congrats on being the runner up in the 2nd Crusader challenge!!!

Rogue Mutt said...

"Do your characters suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder?"

No, but I do. Does that count?

David Powers King said...

Psychology--very important. Makes me glad that I got the degree that I did, even though people thought I'd be better off with a masters in English. Maybe they're write, but I may not have as awesome of characters as I now have. Oh the roads we take, right?

Great post and fitting recommendation! :)

Arlee Bird said...

The main character of my WIP is suffering from amnesia brought on by a sort of post-traumatic disorder you might say.

Have fun with A to Z.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Jan Markley said...

That sounds like an instructive and helpful book. The protag in my w-i-p is close to the line ...

Jeffrey Beesler said...

I'll definitely have to check out that book suggestion. It'll be interesting for me to see if I can't figure out what psychoses my characters suffer from.

Charmaine Clancy said...

great to find you on the A-Z challenge. I heard a podcast about that book, so I might check it out. :)

The Words Crafter said...

I decided to read some of your other posts and wow, I'm glad I did. Thanks for the info about this book, I'm gonna need it!!!!!

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