anthony-fucking-stark asked: Hello, I’ve been following this blog for months and it has helped me very much. But now I have a question: do you have anything on how to write/roleplay a crazy -or insane- character?
You are gonna be so proud of me. I found you some awesome links!
WriteWorld is inexplicably deficient on articles by our admins on mental disorders (a term which, for the purposes of this article, will encompass personality disorders and all other serious mental illnesses), but I do have a few general words of advice for you regarding writing characters with disorders of this kind:
- Mental disorders are not for funsies. They don’t make your character cooler. There are actual people out in the world right now who live with the mental disorder you’re using to give your character some extra pizzazz, so try to bear that in mind as you write.
- Pick a mental disorder and write to it. That is seriously all there is to it. Just do that to the best of your ability with as much respect to your character and the disorder as possible and you will have achieved something that pretty much every writer screws up. Once you’ve chosen a mental disorder…
- Research the specifics of the disorder you have in mind. So many writers mix and match their favorite symptoms from different mental disorders to create a disorder that suits them, and that’s okay, it’s just not true to life. It also makes things more difficult for you, because getting your way all the time isn’t particularly good for a writer. We need our ego tamped down every so often, and we need our research to help us create conflict. If we bend the rules to allow for every little thing we want to magically come true, there is zero believability and zero credibility. Do research. Set boundaries. Give some credit to reality for being plenty messed up on its own without any help from you (dragons and nanobots are, of course, excluded from this criticism).
Don’t worry, I’m going to give you some resources for researching mental disorders.
- With all of that said, there is more to a character than their mental disorder. I am begging you to please give every other aspect of your character as much weight as the mental disorder he or she has. The mental disorder may take over your character’s life, but notice that they have a life to take over. A life that (maybe) existed before their mental disorder as well as during and after.
- Mental disorders are not the same things as psychological issues. Just because your character is in mental anguish, deals with painful memories, has abandonment issues, etc. doesn’t mean you should automatically slap them with a mental disorder. While psychological issues can be debilitating, a mental disorder is a capital “D” Disability, and, unless you’re a qualified expert, you are not in a position to do any diagnosing.
- Instead of assigning your character a mental disorder from the getgo, give them psychological issues that, combined, could culminate in a mental disorder. You don’t have to diagnose a character. A character doesn’t have to have a mental disorder to be truly emotionally or psychologically unstable. Our brains are too complex, too nuanced, to be thrown into little boxes so easily.
- And one more thing: The mental disorder your character has does not equal the plot of the story. There is more to the story than the mental disorder just as there is more to the character than the mental disorder. Plan and write accordingly.
Also, mental disorders are not convenient plot fluff. Mental disorders do not come and go as you see fit. If a character has PTSD, they have it every minute of every day and even if it’s a sliding scale of intensity for them, they still have the disorder. This is what I meant when I talked about rules. A good rule to have is that if your character has a mental disorder, then they have it 24/7, not just when you think it would spice up the scene (not that you would do that) (but you might) (so don’t).
I really strongly recommend that your check out our tips on writing depression and amnesia (below) as well, since much of the advice we give in those articles carries over into every other type of mental condition.
On to the links I found you!
Other Tumblrs/Tumblr Articles:
Guest Posts by Quel:
Outside of Tumblr:
And I just want to say that nothing is more useful than actually talking to someone who has the disorder you’d like to write about.
Thank you very much for your question, and I hope this helps!
Got more links or resources for mental illness? Submit a link to us here!