Writing Novels: Psychological Novels
How to begin writing novels:
“…Psychological novels deal with some disturbed aspect of the human mind, whether insanity or an altered perception of reality or simply some inner struggle with an element of control over the human mind. Writing a good psychological novel takes skill and an understanding of the effect you want to achieve…”
The Neurosurgeon by Travis Robertson is a great example of this while expanding on the role of addiction.
Carl Hose continues in a separate article about psychological thrillers (writing novels):
“…A psychological thriller is an adventure-type story with suspenseful overtones revolving primarily around the emotional elements of the story rather than the physical. A well written psychological thriller draws your readers in, compels them to turn pages and keeps them coming back for more…”
“Always keep emotional stress at the forefront of a psychological thriller. The emotional stress is the driving force of your story…”
All I can do is show how I did it in the beginning and then evolved. Everyone’s path is different. At first I figured I already knew how to write. What I did not understand early on is that writing medical and scientific literature does not prepare one for writing fiction. In this blog I will make a few comments. In future blogs I will add to these.
In medicine writing ( as I had carried out) is done in the passive voice. For example, one says, “The patient was taken to the operating room,” or “The laser beam was fired at its target,” In writing novels, the author primarily employs the active voice: “The nurse took the patient to the operating room” or “Samuel aimed his rifle at a shadow.” I had spent a year writing my first novel before someone critiqued it and pointed out that I would have to rewrite the entire manuscript in the active voice. Which I did. That was a hard lesson. Thereafter I attended numerous conferences discussing writing novels and workshops on writing, which gave me invaluable information about writing novels.
As time went by I discovered that what one “expert” said at a meeting was not the gospel truth (as I had first believed). Other “experts” sometimes had differing opinions among themselves about how to handle a particular issue in writing novels. For example, some say (and I generally feel this way) that one should not change from first person to third person in various chapters, as this is too disconcerting to the reader. Yet, we find a few popular authors doing so. Indeed, I did this in The Neurosurgeon, where I wrote the prologue in the third person and the remainder in the first person. There was a reason I did this.
Another example of variations in “expert” opinion concern the employment of a prologue. Many state that the use of prologue at the beginning of a novel is old-fashioned and not done anymore. Yet it seems to me that half of the good writers still name the first chapter a “Prologue” instead of “Chapter One.” Regarding writing novels, Wikipedia notes that a prologue is the
“opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information.”
In The Neurosurgeon I begin with the prologue to establish an earlier story that ties into the principal narrative. The first paragraph of prologue:
“…Stephanie DeLeon leaned forward against the bitter wind while she crossed Church Circle, leaving St. Anne’s on a Sunday. She had prayed so hard that her head ached and her hands throbbed from her fierce grip on the Bible. Tears had dried, bits of mascara streaking prominent cheek bones. Steffi wished that her younger sister were here, but Stella, fearful of their Father, had traveled by Greyhound to stay with auntie in Baltimore…”
“…They entered Trudy’s dimly lit room. Steffi held her breath. The smell had altered, now a different antiseptic. A human form moved under white sheets, reminding Steffi of white sand shifting on a nearby Chesapeake shoreline. The right arm in a plaster cast hung from an IV pole. The patient wheezed as she breathed, erratic sighs, really. Steffi knew that Mommy’s ribs had been fractured, and the pain just to inhale oxygen required large quantities of morphine…”
“…A floorboard squeaked. Tap-thud, tap-thud. Trapped. Oh God, oh God, oh God! Her horrified eyes flew wide open, her mouth attempting to scream…”
Writing novels: “The Neurosurgeon”
Writing novels: “The Neurosurgeon”
Writing Novels: Early history
Writing novels: the first psychological novel
“The psychological novel first appeared in 17th-century France, with Madame de La Fayette’s Princesse de Clèves (1678). …the psychological novel limited itself to a few characters whose motives for action could be examined and analyzed. In England, the psychological novel did not appear until the Victorian era, when George Eliot became its first great exponent. The encyclopedia goes on to further discuss this genre of novel.”
(View another page in this website to see a thesaurus of 2,060 synonyms for “said,” “thought,” and “walked” in the author’s Writing novels and a Mini-Thesaurus for psychological novels. Synonyms for these verbs were used extensively in the psychological novel, The Neurosurgeon.)
“The Neurosurgeon” available now at
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Author of “The Neurosurgeon” and granddaughter: discussing writing novels