Monday 9 August 2021

Review by Asha Krishna of "Inside Fictional Minds: Tips from Psychology for Creating Characters" by Dr Stephanie Carty

Writers are constantly dealing with human behaviour. Why do the characters act a certain way? What makes them work? 

Inside Fictional Minds by Dr Stephanie Carty offers answers to these questions through clinical psychology. An NHS consultant psychologist, Dr Carty has written many award-winning stories and draws on her professional experience to show how emotions and defence mechanisms can be utilised to create strong, fictional characters.

Such a book might feel a bit overwhelming as it battles the possibility of information overload. Thankfully, Inside Fictional Minds avoids that pitfall and has a clear focus on the writers’ needs. The succinct chapters allow the reader to examine and assign the different emotions and constructs. They are followed by tasks so that the writer can play with the concepts and try out the best fit for their characters.

Divided into three parts, the book has a focussed approach in how it navigates through a minefield of information. The first section, 'The Basics,' discusses how emotions, perceptions and desires shape a character’s persona. 

The second section, 'The Specifics,' explores traits like narcissism and perfectionism and their effects on character. The third section, 'Putting It All Together,' discusses the crucial element of change. The character’s main function is to change over the course of the story and this chapter is packed with useful tips to map that journey. 

The book also recognises the role of a reader while constructing a narrative. Dr Carty’s firm grip on the craft, fused with her professional experience, works well as she balances character insight and reader involvement to build a strong story.

Overall, this is a valuable tool for the advanced writer. Whether a story is plot-driven or character-led, adding dimensions to characterisation elevates the story and this book helps the author do just that. 

About the reviewer
Asha Krishna hates homeschooling but loves seeing her name in print. She is a proud mentee of the Middleway Mentoring project, a professional scheme for emerging writers, and writes short stories and flash. Her work has appeared in Flash Fiction, Leicesterwrites and In the Middle anthologies. She lives in Leicestershire and tweets as @ashkkrish. 

You can read more about Inside Fictional Minds on Creative Writing at Leicester here

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