Psychology for character building

I know it sounds obvious, but when building your main characters, protagonist and antagonist, it’s important that you build them to be people whom you would like or hate.  A good guy, the hero/heroine, must be someone you would like and the bad guy/gal should be someone you wouldn’t like.  If you can’t build them to inspire the appropriate emotional responses within yourself, how can a reader feel the right way about them?

This is not a universal rule though.  There are some protagonists and antagonists who break the boundaries a little but even with these characters, there should be a thread of something within them that can inspire the love, hate, fear, admiration etc.  My main character Jake Elloway in Acts of Life is one of those guys most people find irritating, someone you wouldn’t immediately like, but he has qualities that do inspire the right feelings in the end.

It is important to know a bit about human psychology when building characters.  The more you know about the human condition, the more realistic your characters will be.  It’s worth buying a few books on psychology or doing a basic course to give you a bit of insight into how to make your characters real.  I’m lucky, my mother worked in psychiatry since I was two years old, so I’ve grown up to have some insight into people, and I’ve also spent time studying people and their relationships with each other.

Just as a quick for instance, don’t make your hero/heroine too perfect.  Let them have flaws, failings and weaknesses like real people do and your readers will identify with them more easily.  Likewise, don’t make your bad guys too evil, for even the baddest badass has some redeeming features.  It doesn’t have to be much, just something to help your readers know these people are real, plausible and just like them.

God Save Me From Armchair Pop Psychologists



I saw this on facebook today and was so incensed I just had to blog about it.  It was posted by Tyrese Gibson (the singer/actor?  The black guy from Fast and Furious?).  Tyrese has tried his hand at a few things in order to keep his name in the media, from acting, to singing and even co-authoring a book and the one thing that ties all these these three things together is that he’s lukewarm at all of them.  Never mind, that’s not the point of the blog.

Some time ago he co-authored a book that got a moment of public notice for a day or two.  I bought it and even read it and agreed with some of it.  It was meant to be a man’s eye view of relationships and how to get on in life generally and once you managed to drag yourself through the first half of the book, which was just a biopic of his own life, he and his co-author then gave vent to their own views on how we should all behave in order to better our lives in all sorts of ways.

Today Tyrese posted the above photograph on his facebook page and I was enraged enough to comment on it.

What he’s saying, in essence, is that sexy women are boring and boring in bed.  Whilst I cannot find a single reason to argue with this pearl of wisdom (we women have known this for centuries but men have never listened), it amazes me that he is preaching this stuff as his own opinion.

So if he believes sexy women are boring in bed, whey then has he never dated/married a plain dumpy frumpy woman huh?  He obviously believes that all of the sexy women he’s been seen with are all boring and boring in bed?  Does he have a current girlfriend/wife?  Does she know he finds her boring in bed?  If not then someone please tell her and let me see her reaction.

Perhaps he doesn’t find his current girlfriend/wife (if there is one) sexy at all?  Perhaps that’s why he’s with her, for her wonderful personality and interesting knowledge and experience.  Does she know he finds her unattractive?  If not, please inform her and let me see her reaction.

With the above statement, Mr Gibson is biting off his own balls without having the basic intelligence to realise the idiocy of the statement.  Either all his sexy women are boring, or all his interesting ones are ugly.  Which is it brah..?

Of course he could turn around and deny that this is his opinion at all, in which case why post such rubbish and put the title of his up-coming book on the bottom of it?  Seriously, does this guy even have a brain?

Tyrese, you’re a good looking dude.  Stick to looking pretty and leave the armchair pop psychology to those of us who actually understanding people huh?