QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ask the Doctors! & About Archetype

Q&A on the QueryTracker.Net blog

Some of you know by now that when I'm not writing and blogging, I'm a psychologist and a professor. And I'm not the only doctor on the QueryTracker.net blog team.  HL Dyer is a pediatric hospitalist physician in the Chicagoland area.  Just as I enjoy answering writers' questions about psychology, Heather enjoys answering writers' questions about medicine.

We decided to invite you to email us over the next week with your psychology/writing questions (those go to me, ckaufman) and your medical/writing questions (those go to hldyer).  Our email addresses are in the sidebar to your right!

Next Tuesday, February 24th, Heather will choose one or two of her favorite questions to answer here on the QT Blog, and on Tuesday, March 3rd, I'll do the same thing.  We'll be fielding some of the other questions we get on our personal sites -- links to follow!

Some tips:
* Ask specific questions. 
* If you're comfortable doing so, add some detail about why you're asking -- what's going on with your characters?  What's the scene you need information for like?

From my archives, here's an example of a good, specific question:
Could a person with schizophrenia have such a mild version that, to most, he appears completely normal except for a few "quirks" and his bad symptoms only come out in periods of high stress? Or would I be speaking of a completely different illness?
In case you're interested, the answer to this question is here.
Here's another question; here the writer included lots of character information:
How would a psychological professional respond to a woman who goaded an ex-boyfriend into hitting her? My main character is trying to work through why she is always choosing men who hurt her. The psychiatrist asks her about her first boyfriend. The character says he hit her, but only once, and she doesn't count it as because she taunted him to do it. How would a psychiatrist/psychologist respond to that?
The answer to this question is here.
About Archetype

A couple of years ago, I started to notice that writers often make mistakes or rely on clich├ęs when they incorporate therapists, disorders, and treatments into their stories. With a little more research, I realized why.  There was no easy-to-understand, easy-to-use resource that explained disorders, diagnosis, and therapy to writers. There was also no comprehensive resource on the psychology of the writer, creativity, and good writing.

So I decided to create one.  I  named it  Archetype Writing: Psychology for Fiction Writers.

The other members of the Blog Team suggested I tell you more about my Archetype project, so today that's what I'm going to do.

Let's say, for example, that you're writing a story about a character who has bipolar disorder (aka manic depression).  Maybe that character is suicidal, and you want her to be hospitalized against her will.  The only problem?  You don't know much about bipolar disorder, how it's diagnosed, or how it's treated.  Nor do you know how the whole involuntary hospitalization process works, or how to make the doctors at the hospital sound like real shrinks.

Where to start?  Well, you could piece information together from all over the internet, or you could just visit Archetype.  After all, the Real Psychology section of Archetype includes information on all of these things. Better yet, if you can't find the details you need, or you need someone in-the-know to double-check how authentic your scene sounds, you can fill out the Q & A form  to ask specifically about your story.  (You can also check out other readers' questions and answers in the Q & A archive.) I respond by email within a few days.

The site also includes lots of articles and resources on better writing, characterization, genre writing, editing and feedback, agents and publishing, and using psychology in your fiction.  There are also worksheets and cheat sheets for writing queries, defining your character's personality, and defeating your inner critic.  I've also thrown in a few idea generators and tips on beating writer's block

I hope you'll get the chance to drop by!


Michelle D. Argyle said...

What a great resource! I will use the Archetype site for sure! You guys are so on top of things it boggles my mind!

I have some medical questions, but they'll take awhile for me to pull together. I'm getting sick, and will be traveling across the country later this week. Can I email you next week with those questions?

Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman said...

Thanks, Lady G! Heather is going to choose some questions to answer for next Tuesday, but you can still email her after that. She's going to post some answers on her blog, too, after Tuesday. :-)

Anonymous said...

As a person who has visited your website, I can honestly say - I LOVE IT. It is a great tool.


Anonymous said...

I just recently discovered your wonderful chock-full-of-info site and immediately shared it on my blog. I came as a writer seeking answers for a character and found aid for my own issues with block [and flow!] Which leads to my question: Is the Q&A limited to fiction questions or may writers ask personal questions too?
I will be sharing this post too... Thanks for all you do!

Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman said...

Hi janflora -- I'm thrilled to hear you found the site helpful! (And Christine, thank you so much for your kudos!)

J, you ask a great question, and I'm so glad you did. I do take article suggestions, like "Do writers really have more problems with mood disorders? Why?" but for ethical reasons I'm afraid I can't take Real-Life questions, like "This happened to me, what do I do?" So yes, essentially the Q&A is limited to fiction questions.

And thanks so much for sharing this post. Heather and I are both looking forward to everyone's questions! :-D