Friday, November 2, 2012

You Are Not A Therapist

Exploring a character's personality is one of the most desired, and most difficult, task an author of any sort faces.  Getting it right, making it natural, and not dropping it on a readers head is the hard, but can be very rewarding in the long run.

But there is an issue.  Most artists and authors don't actually know how the mind works.  They're not therapists or psychologists.  This means, as the author starts to dig into what makes their own characters tick, they're not doing it from an educated position.  Which brings me to Schlock Mercenary and it's current "B" plot.

While Captian Kaff Tagon and his Toughs are busy trying to contain a nanite infested army of Gavs (or run away as the case may be), General (Retired) Karl Tagon is relating the story of the beginning of the Teraforming Wars (none of which is needed to actually know to understand this article).  The point:  Nearly his entire family died there, with only father and son (so far) getting out alive.  The fact that it was caused by nanites here as well has relevance on the "A" plot.

The most recent comic on this part of the plot tries to dissect what's going on in Karl's head with respect to this incident.  It ends with "You're not a good therapist."  The question is, however, is she right?  As far as Howard Taylor is concerned, I suspect he believes she is, but from a psychological one, I'm not so sure.  Mostly because, like Taylor, I'm not a therapist.

I've developed several characters for stories and I have the same problems, armchair psychiatry.  I THINK I know why characters do what they do, but is true?  I can only guess.  Intuition works to a point, but people who are more educated can probably see through it.  It's dangerous territory, and going beyond the most simple, broad strokes might likely get an author into trouble.

I really can't wait for the next comic on this plot for Schlock.  I'm curious to see what Karl believes happened in that moment, or how he deals with the fact that she might be right.  If anything, I find this "B" plot more interesting than the "A" plot, but only until the two start colliding.  After all, Kaff is dealing, once again, with nanites threating his life (and employeers), and there's a survivor as well.  What will HE do and how will it relate to what happened in the past?  Even if it's not psychologically accurate, the story is still damn good.

Until next time kiddies.

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