Who Do You Think They Are? Getting Into Character (Online)

Improving | Fiction
Learn and apply psychoanalytic theories to your characters in this unique four-week course – all the tools you’ll need to create rich, convincing inner lives for the people at the heart of your novel.

The success of a novel depends on insightful, considered and compelling characterisation. Your characters need to feel real; they must stand up to close analysis. The characters we remember – the ones we care about and root for – have a traceable emotional history which makes sense of their needs, desires, ambitions, fears, secrets, contradictions and vulnerabilities.

Psychoanalysis is essentially the study of personal development, the exploration of what makes us who we are. It offers a wealth of developmental narratives – a variety of frameworks or perspectives through which we can understand the story of how character is formed. In this course, experienced psychotherapist and editorial consultant Arabel Charlaff will equip you with some of these basic psychoanalytic theories and help you to begin delving into your characters’ inner worlds. From the moment that you introduce your characters to the group, we’ll be treating them as real people and encouraging you to question them deeply: why do they do what they do? What motivates them? How have they become who they are?

Over the course of the four sessions, we’ll consider the story of human development from infancy to old age. We will touch on the major milestones, the points of crisis, the ways in which ‘healthy’ development can be interrupted, diverted or even arrested. We will also look at some literary examples to help us understand how the enrichment of character can enhance and inform a novel.

You’ll leave the final session with everything you need to bring your novel to life – the inside track on at least one of your main characters, and the framework to build meaningful, believable inner worlds for all of your future creations too.

'Profoundly useful and interesting... absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking.' Nick, January 2019

Arabel is also the course leader for the hugely popular Faber Members series Literature & Psychoanalysis. She'll be in conversation with Dr Gwen Adshead on 30 June, discussing attachment and trauma in P. D. James's Innocent Blood.

4th - 25th September 2021

Availability: In stock

14 Places

This course will run over four Saturdays, 10am–4pm, comprising a morning session of teaching, discussion and exercises running 10–1.30pm, and structured afternoon writing time from 2–4pm.

Session 1

In our first session, we'll start by meeting our characters. We'll then move on to beginnings – the maternal environment (Winnicott) and early infancy. We'll look at attachment theory, and separation and loss: the secure base.

Session 2

In this session, we'll look at family systems and family scripts, trans-generational trauma and the roles that we play. We'll discuss projection as well as projective identification – what do we carry for each other?

Session 3

Who do we love and why do we love them? We'll discuss transference, repetition compulsion, the core complex and distance regulation – too near, too far. We'll also discuss sexuality and perversions in this session.

Session 4

Villains and psychopaths – what happens when it all goes wrong? In this final session, we'll also look at trauma and abuse, as well as loss, mourning and melancholia. And we'll discuss mortality: what does it mean to be facing the end? We'll end the course with a live, interactive ‘therapy session’ for one of the group's characters.

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Arabel is an accredited and experienced psychotherapist who works both privately and within the...

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman