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Thread: Writing a Psychological Mindset

  1. #1

    Default Writing a Psychological Mindset

    I've been tinkering around with some story and character ideas lately, and the topic of power keeps coming up. And it's not something I understand; the Big Bad Mengsk or Sauron desiring a dominion and subjection simply doesn't compute for me.

    To write and reason without understanding a mindset makes no sense to me; you'll only arrive at tired cliches and flawed conclusions. When ISIS reared its head, I spent months trying to understand the hate and dogma, to no avail.

    Does anyone have any writing/psychology resources, or useful analogies, to bridge the gap in understanding on things like this?
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  2. #2
    TheEconomist's Avatar Lord of Economics
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    Default Re: Writing a Psychological Mindset

    Read 'Laws of Power' while taking testosterone injections. You'll be on a power trip soon enough.



    Rest In Peace, Old Friend.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Writing a Psychological Mindset

    First, you can't understand Sauron because he's not human and LotR is black and white. Some things in that universe are just evil and there's magic powers to fill anything you can't explain. Mengsk isn't a well written character(especially after SC2) so I wouldn't think too much about it. I know these were just examples but basing yourself on real humans is better.

    You have to start from birth to the present day. Start by deciding/determining what's the default psychological values that the character had. His empathy levels, his temper, etc. Then, run a simulation in your head or on paper of all the major events that happened during that person's life. At each stage, write down how these events transformed the character. This will give you a good idea of the end product. Cliches are inevitable because if you don't go into the specifics, we're a lot less unique than people like to think.

    I'm sure you understand that ISIS members have either been indoctrinated from birth,they've had a bad life and saw salvation in martyrdom, they've been seduced by the romantic idea of holy wars and etc. There's nothing else to it. If you'd be placed in the same circumstances as any ISIS member that has the same default psych values as yourself, you'd also end up running people over. I think the problem you're running into is that you're putting your current self through the life of these people that you don't understand BUT, you don't change the mental heuristics that you currently use in your life. The processes that these people use to react to their environment are different and introspection is not enough to figure them out. You really have to take a bottom-up approach to see how the algorithm transforms over time to create the persona.
    Last edited by sandwich_bird; 08-21-2017 at 10:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Writing a Psychological Mindset

    The Bird is the word (had to say it).

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    I've been tinkering around with some story and character ideas lately, and the topic of power keeps coming up. And it's not something I understand; the Big Bad Mengsk or Sauron desiring a dominion and subjection simply doesn't compute for me.
    You're probably thinking that "power" is and was the end goal in and of itself from the start, when it really isn't for most decent characters. Like Bird said, you're trying to apply your own set of values on things rather than starting from a core motivation that the character has. If you start with a base motivation or inciting incident, you would find that the gaining of power that the character is going through is merely a side effect or a tool to help bring fruition to the character's base motivation.

    Comics have been doing this forever in regard to supervillians. There is a reason why most of Batman's villains are highly regarded. They're often more than just their on-the-surface gimmick.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  5. #5

    Default Re: Writing a Psychological Mindset

    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich_bird View Post
    First, you can't understand Sauron because he's not human and LotR is black and white. Some things in that universe are just evil and there's magic powers to fill anything you can't explain. Mengsk isn't a well written character(especially after SC2) so I wouldn't think too much about it. I know these were just examples but basing yourself on real humans is better.

    You have to start from birth to the present day. Start by deciding/determining what's the default psychological values that the character had. His empathy levels, his temper, etc. Then, run a simulation in your head or on paper of all the major events that happened during that person's life. At each stage, write down how these events transformed the character. This will give you a good idea of the end product. Cliches are inevitable because if you don't go into the specifics, we're a lot less unique than people like to think.

    I'm sure you understand that ISIS members have either been indoctrinated from birth,they've had a bad life and saw salvation in martyrdom, they've been seduced by the romantic idea of holy wars and etc. There's nothing else to it. If you'd be placed in the same circumstances as any ISIS member that has the same default psych values as yourself, you'd also end up running people over. I think the problem you're running into is that you're putting your current self through the life of these people that you don't understand BUT, you don't change the mental heuristics that you currently use in your life. The processes that these people use to react to their environment are different and introspection is not enough to figure them out. You really have to take a bottom-up approach to see how the algorithm transforms over time to create the persona.
    Doesn't explain the great many ISIS members that had a cushioned upper middle class western life-style and decided to drop that for some stupid asinine agenda.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Writing a Psychological Mindset

    I remember that the writer for The Sopranos (or some crime drama) would watch interviews to get a better handle on dialog. And I'm finding it's very good for character development in general.

    I'm tweaking my characters a bit, the two protagonists each being a foil of the other; one, a villain who becomes... if not a hero, then better. And the other, an underdog who becomes a villain. The starting off point for each is losing a mentor or close companion. So I'm watching interviews of people who've experienced survivor's guilt and the like, and I'm finding a wealth of insight from these interviews. It must also be a good approach to writing any type of character.
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

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