The Character Therapist: Help for Your Characters

I’ve got a treat for you. Jeannie Campbell graciously agreed to be my guest. She just launched a cool new website and blog, The Character Therapist, where writers can get tons of information to help them develop their characters and research the pesky issues that can plague them. If you want to give your characters some messy backstory, Jeannie is your go-to gal.

Welcome, Jeannie! I’m happy to help you introduce your new site. Could you begin by telling us what treasures await us there?

Thanks so much, Keli! The thing of most interest to writers would be my “Make an Appointment” tab where writers can fill out my online intake form and get their character some couch time, either for a free mini assessment or a modestly-priced full assessment. I’ve also got lots of free articles to look through as well as four Writer’s Guides that I’ve written to help authors take their characters deeper.

Wow! What a wealth of information. Those Character Clinic assessments sound interesting. I’ve got a character who really could use some time on your couch. He’s one bad dude and is making life tough on the hero and heroine in my work-in-progress.

I want to have some fun today and take advantage of your education and experience. I once had a psychologist friend tell me he could take one look at me and know I’m a perfectionist just by my hairstyle. He’s right, of course. 🙂

As a writer, I found my friend’s insight intriguing. I realized I could convey a lot about my characters before they even say a word. Since you’re a professional people person, aka licensed therapist, I’d love to have your help. What are some ways a writer could use appearance and mannerisms to show each of the following:

A shy guy

lack of eye contact; might have a slight hunch; drives a conservative vehicle; avoids crowds; might gravitate toward more intellectual pursuits, possibly dating via social media; very dependable at work; can’t say “no” to people; finds relief in some artistic/creative outlet, like gardening or photography

A laid-back loafer

tanned (depends on locale, of course); bed-head; mismatched and/or wrinkled clothes; perpetually late—but hey! The party doesn’t start till he gets there anyway; procrastinator; not into confrontation; hard time keeping a job unless that job lets him do his thing or he is the owner

A take-charge type

takes pride in his or her appearance and belongings; confident stride and posture; avid texter and fluent in all things social media; multi-tasker; talks over other people or frequently interrupts others, perhaps without even realizing it; doesn’t do well in group dynamics (generally will take over or butt heads with the designated leader)

A rigid rule-follower

drives the speed limit, regardless of honks from other drivers; lives and dies by the clock (all of which are synchronized throughout the house); follows a strict daily routine; actually reads everything before signing, even the Apple iTunes updates; can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees-type person; probably not a people person

A cold, calculating crook

can come across as aloof and unemotional (caveat: those that don’t and can present a decent façade to the world are way more fascinating—likely psychotic); very keen on details of every kind, an observer; better-than-average memory and likely intellectually gifted; lack of remorse, even about spilling coffee on someone or kicking a dog

Thanks, Jeannie. That was fun. You’ve given us some great ideas. Don’t be surprised if I show up at The Character Therapist to have you get in the head of that villain of mine.

• • •

Jeannie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She’s currently Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit. She has worked in a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitative program, several non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice. Yup. She knows her stuff.

Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer.

Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romances” were finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.

That’s the official info, but I’ll add that Jeannie’s a really nice person. We’ve been friends a couple of years, and I was privileged to meet her in person at the 2010 ACFW conference. She’s friendly, fun, and has a heart for helping other writers.

• • •

Jeannie has offered to give away a copy of her Writer’s Guide to Personality Disorders.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Jeannie by June 21st and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. On June 22nd, I will hold the drawing, post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment, and send him/her an email.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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9 Responses to The Character Therapist: Help for Your Characters

  1. Great interview and VERY helpful stuff here. Many times I read blogs and interviews and come away not truly understanding what the heck the people were talking about. Either it was too nebulous or convoluted or just boring. This was super. I learned a lot from the descriptions of what a certain character would act like, given his or her “type”. Thank you for that. Your book would be really helpful to many of us writers.

  2. Fun interview and a great idea for a book- thanks for letting us know about it.

  3. Beth Vogt says:

    I’ve read several other blog posts about Jeannie’s new blog. It’s quite interesting and I signed up to follow it!

  4. Wow, I loved these descriptions! What a fun idea, Keli! I’m sure I’ll come back here for reference. 🙂

  5. Great post! I really enjoyed the descriptions, and will refer back to this post many times. This was especially relevant to my writing because at the moment I’m having “difficulty” with two of the characters. 😉
    Blessings, Patti Jo 🙂

  6. thanks so much for hosting me here keli! i’ve had one of those days at work where i wasn’t able to slide onto the computer at all. *sigh* but i will be directing people back to this post tomorrow for sure! thanks again!

  7. Taylor says:

    Ooh, love these descriptions! I’ll probably come back here often to look them over! I’m almost positive these will help me with my characters!

  8. Jami Gold says:

    This is great stuff! I was at the old website, but I’ll have to check out the new one. 🙂

  9. Taylor – glad they were helpful. 🙂

    Jami – I’ll look for your smiling face!

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