Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

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zanearaki
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Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#1 Post by zanearaki » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:45 am

I'm new to VN world. Started playing it like back then in high school.. and now I have growing interest in making one. I don't really have a team yet, so I'm learning to write for a while. Even before knowing about VN, I already started writing because it's how I express myself, but VN seems to be a balance of technical and traditional aspect of writing that I worry my writing hasn't reach its level of standard VN yet. Off to the question... which are:

1. What are ways to design a character's trait? Should I learn about Psychology in order to understand human behavior and tendencies that often contain a person's personality?
2. And if Psychology can be a way to learn it, where or how should I start if I'm not coming from a Psychology background?
(Maybe like books, movies, websites, or VNs recommendation that tackle this subject.)
3. I've had this particular problem for a while. When I had a field trip to a mountain area with class, we were told by our
Literature teacher to write a story based on this mountain setting. I remembered how easy it was for me to find an idea and
write the story, and I didn't hesitate for a bit while writing and ending my story, it all felt so natural and one smooth process. But
that was the first and last time I've ever felt that way when writing. After that, it's hard for me to generate an idea for fiction
story.
Now I'm only writing my personal experience in my journal because lately that's the only thing I can do with joy and out of
burden.
Do you think that has to do with my inner stress? If I remember it right, I started to experience this writing block after I had to
endure for my final exam in secondary school. When I was accepted into high school I start my writing again and that's when
I realized I was having difficulties with it, until today when I'm in college.
Also, do you have any tips for people like me who are enduring writing block? Further note, before I wrote those mountain fiction
story, I had also wrote a few short stories before, and it also felt easy and enjoyable for me to write from start to finish. So
I thought maybe the final exam was the trigger to my writer's block syndrome? Are there any of you who've also has similar
experience?

I will really appreciate your answers. Thank you.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#2 Post by J-Ray » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:48 am

Isn't a best way to understand human's behavior is to study ourselves?
If your goal is to understand people and yourself and write deep, believable stories - psychology might help, but do not expect blueprints, which you could stick to living, breathing, thinking, walking and talking people and understand them :)
Attention, observation, thinking without judgment and conclusions, keeping open mind are very important valuables on that way. Useful Psychology? Yes. Necessary? No.
Best of luck with your search!

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#3 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:46 am

I would go as far as claiming that the number of writers with a psychology degree or even with real knowledge of the human psyche is negligible in comparison to the number of writers who successfully tell stories just the same. Psychology can play a great deal in a story, but so can any other concept - philosophy, for example, in Sophie's World (by Jostein Gaarder, if you want to give it a read), or the idea that human reason can unravel any puzzle, in any Sherlock Holmes story, or even the notion that the world as a whole doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is best viewed with a healthy dose of sarcasm, as in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

You have Writer's Block? Meh. To quote Douglas Noel Adams: "Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds." The creative process is often a struggle, and there's tons of different ways to tackle it. Personally, I just sit down and type what comes to my mind, whether it makes sense or not, and after five thousand words of that, I look at the first thousand, delete them and start again, using the other four thousand words as a quarry from which to break ideas loose from, because after the first thousand words, my mind is usually warmed up enough to crank out a few useful thoughts, and useful thoughts make for good story elements.

Other people take writing challenges, and from what you're telling, it could be that that's what could work for you. When your teacher gave you the task of writing a story based on a mountain setting, it was easy and fun for you to do. Why not pick up on that idea? Have other people ask you to write stories. Maybe this'll work for you.
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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#4 Post by Kinjo » Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:46 am

In my entirely honest and unprofessional opinion: psychology is overrated.

Maybe there are some grains of truth, but it's often not reliable, is always under scrutiny, and susceptible to change.
It's not easy to study ourselves, because we have our own biases that make it impossible to see anything about ourselves objectively.

Just write based on your own experiences and observations. It's going to produce more realistic characters than something cooked up from a psychology textbook.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#5 Post by Yolo400 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:07 am

Yeah. Knowing Psychology is useful when it comes to writing.

Yet knowing when to break from it to bash out a solid piece of dramatic work is even more useful.
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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#6 Post by sociohat » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:32 am

Knowledge of psychology certainly helps, but it isn't required. It can even be a detriment sometimes. Some people go out of their way to make their characters completely realistic, and while that's certainly a commendable effort, it's impossible for them to achieve it. Humans nature is simply too complex to quantify. Just make your characters interesting and reasonably believable.

I'm not telling you to stop learning psychology, though! It certainly won't hurt to know more of it.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#7 Post by Parataxis » Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:40 am

I don't think you need to be a student of Psychology, per se, but it does help your writing immensely if you are a student of PEOPLE.

The formal study of psychology has it's own benefits of course, but the best way to learn how people tick is to simply observe those around you carefully. You can know what social anxiety is and a list of symptoms it has, but it's quite possible that a person who has never studied the origins and manifestations of social anxiety will write a much more true to life character than you ever could simply by watching a person in their life who has social anxiety and incorporating it into their portrayal. That's not to say that having names for aspects of characterization is detrimental to the craft or even that a person who does not have a certain "type" of acquaintance cannot then write a certain type of character. It's not like the only way to write psychologically realized characters is to base every one on a person you know. But on the other hand, putting people into boxes is only useful up to a point for a writer. After you've built the puppet it still has to trick some one into thinking it's alive.

So be a scavenger. Be constantly on the look out for a cool personal philosophy, or a funny anecdote, or a way of speaking. See how people around you relate to their parents and friends, and when it comes time to write your own stories, draw on the huge pool of human traits and mannerisms and experiences to make as close a facsimile as possible. That's worked pretty well for me.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#8 Post by Chocopyro » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:48 am

I would say, understanding sociology is more important. But evolutionary psychology and human mating psychology actually takes a lot less time to learn, with a lot less technical terms, and a hell of a lot more understanding garnered from it in a shorter time. I couldn't tell you the technical terms, but when writing, I can generally understand what's going on in a female character's mind, and how she will try to signal it to the protagonist, as well as what kinds of details she's attracted in him, why she is, blah blah blah. And it's not something I have to think about too much. Its more of an understanding rather than knowledge. In understanding, everything flows together much smoother than trying to apply knowledge. Just stay away from pickup artist bs, read books like "The mating mind", and take that road wherever it leads, and suddenly people make a lot more sense intuitively rather than objectively.

But like Kinjo said, psychology is pretty over rated. I actually learned most of my human behavior from researching tarot, astrology, anthropology, sociology, and other occult topics. And playing Persona 4 is actually a great introduction to both Tarot and Jungian psychology.

And as for writer's block, Tarot can help with that too. Not always, but generally, most of my breakthroughs have been from drawing a card based off of the present moment to help me identify how to reframe a scene based on a theme.
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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#9 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:58 am

Definitely not, I learned most of my writing skills just from reading books, so you don't need a classical education in psychology to write at all, just a casual understanding of human behavior.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#10 Post by fullmontis » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:29 am

Psychology is great for understanding humans and getting a bigger viewpoint. But as a writer one must remember that you are talking about a very limited set of the human population, so those general principles usually depend a lot on the context of each character. This is what naturalists have failed to do (my biased opinion of course). To me the most important thing is writing this character, and not a subset of the human population.

For example, say you have a girl that is called Mary and likes Rick but is having a hard time getting noticed. We know a million stories exactly like that. But does that mean that you should write another copycat story to add to the bunch? Of course not.

What you should focus on is on telling the story of Mary pursuing Rick, not the story of a girl pursuing a boy (even though it is the general category it fits into). This is because both Mary, Rick and the context they are in have characteristics specific to the moment this happens. And this is what makes even the most mundane story of love involving and emotional.

Regarding writer's block... To me, the best cure for that is just going back to books, games and movies that inspired me in the first place. This never fails to spark ideas and fuel the willpower to go back to the keyboard and write. In your case, I would reread the fiction story you are talking about, I'm sure you will find something in there that inspired you to write.

Stress and pressure for sure are causes of writer's block. I find I can't really write if I find too much of a pressure to write and perform well. Doing some stream of consciousness style of writing usually helps cleaning out the blocks. You can try it out and see if it works for you.
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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#11 Post by sbester » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:43 am

My short answer:

Education in psychology, no.

Emotional intelligence, yes.

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Re: Is learning Psychology necessary for basis of writing?

#12 Post by Chocopyro » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:14 pm

Yeah, I second Sbester. In fact, forget my first post. Emotional intelligence is much more important to writing in understanding how characters feel, think, relate with, and interact with each other, than psychology is.
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