Think of ShrinkWrite not as a luxury, but as your facilitator in helping you avoid rewrites, break through snags, and develop provocative character arcs.
Let ShrinkWrite help with as much or as little of our project as you need. Dr J can be as structured or flexible as you would like. The goal is to help you in any way that moves your work ahead. Julia M. Stroud, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice with over thirty years experience. She provides psychotherapy, evaluations, and due to the breadth of her knowledge, consultations to other professionals regarding their own patients. During a six-year hiatus raising her two sons, Dr J helped several friends with their novels and screenplays and was urged to grow ShrinkWrite into a business. Due to the need to jump back in to practice full time, however, ShrinkWrite has remained a part-time venture until now.
In the beginning stages of constructing your character's skeleton, Dr J can help you conceptualize his or her personality, behavior, dialogue in tentative plot situations, and relationships with friends, family, lovers, etc. As a writer, it is imperative to develop a character biography for your main players that includes far more information and depth than will be portrayed directly in your text or on screen. This is essential in order for your audience to perceive the complexity of their personalities, and, hence, the plausibility of their motivations and actions. Dr J's thirty years of studying the human psyche will allow you to weave the threads of your creations into a compelling tapestry.
For example, say you have a woman-hating psychopath who is stalking your protagonist as she attempts to solve a murder which he has committed. What created this monster? What kind of background might he have? What's his internal dialogue? How would he be attracted to or repelled by his quarry? What are his quirks, rationalizations, pathologies?
Another example may be found in a romance, in which the protagonist is drawn to a man who is clearly going to be problematic for her life. Why is it so difficult for her to resist the attraction? What pitfalls lie ahead? Is it even possible that this relationship will succeed?
You've formulated the basics of your plot and have your characters sketched. ShrinkWrite can help flesh out their skeletons with more in-depth ideas as to how there are likely to move through the scenes of your story in an exciting yet plausible way that will seem credible to your viewer or reader. What is each character's arc? What are some possibilities for its development? You provide Dr J with primary character biographies and scenes that are in progress. She will help you make the characters come alive, the scenes imprint vividly in the mind's eye.
In order to hook your audience, the reader or viewer must feel as if it could happen, no matter how implausible. It's a matter of refining the details of your story in a way that is consistent with, but not a slave to, reality. Dr J has worked with all types of personalities, for better or worse, thus has both the theoretical background and experience to make a character breathe.
Of course, if your plot involves a patient in therapy, in a psychiatric ward, etc., ShrinkWrite can make your dialogue and psycho-babble accurate, but that's a fairly minor part of Dr J's services. Let her help you be sure, however, that you are not referring to a character as “psychotic” when you really mean “psychopathic” or throw around the term “schizophrenic” indiscriminately. It bugs Dr J's scientific soul.
Other intermediate feedback might help when you are stuck; you know where you want to go but are not sure how to move your characters there. Is your character somewhat obsessive-compulsive? Depressive? Have anxiety? Panic attacks? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Dr J's opinion is that we all have a measure, whether small or large, of many potential pathologies within us. These emerge or are exacerbated in times of stress or in certain situations (Thanksgiving dinner?).
How would your character think, behave, talk, interact? You and ShrinkWrite can brainstorm several options based upon your character's personality and plotting.
At this level, you've written most or all of your manuscript and want feedback for certain scenes, story lines, or chapters that you are less than pleased with. Perhaps it doesn't have quite the impact you'd like. Maybe it lacks intensity or excitement. ShrinkWrite can help you tweak your characters, foibles and strengths in ways that will immerse your audience in your story. If you are worried that the reader might hit your climax and react to the denouement with an “I don't think so...," Dr J can help you develop the additional touch of realism that might make it work.