Writer Psychological Profiling
How to profile writers from their content
An editor friend of mine once said she couldn’t stop psychoanalyzing the writers from the books they wrote. I agree. Writers may write in many points of views and assume many characters at any given time but ultimately the writers write what they know and how they feel. And from those words we read, we get to know the people behind those lines on a deeper level, intellectually and emotionally.
If you a lover of the crime genre, you probably already know what I’m talking about. Profiling, a set of techniques developed by the FBI in the 70s last century that was used to later successfully identify serial killers, rapists, arsonists and criminals of the alike. There are many materials related to this topic if you just Google it. Many criminal profilers have since become TV celebrities because of their psychic-like abilities but with a fundamental difference, their practices are based on extensive research, scientific studies, field and controlled experiments. Even then, mistakes are unavoidable and there are always Zero Days of the garden varieties that break the mould and create more questions. Therefore, the criteria are always updating, evolving, and expanding.
Some say psychological profiling is less than useless, in that vein, some say psychology is not real science. I will let you be the judge of that. Nevertheless, as the main theme seems steady and the practices are still instrumental in solving crimes as we speak, we shall entertain its applications on this occasion.
As a crime writer who consumes a large amount of information on both sides of the crime, I observe and analyze numerous cases, form abstract guiding principals and manifest them in my own writing. I imagine most writers can empathize that writing itself is a solitary pursuit and there is a lot going on in our minds than we let on the pages. At times, I couldn’t help but to analyze myself. As I am a reflective person, you have to be as a writer. I gradually realized that many symptoms we experience as writers are somewhat in parallel with criminals. Well, if you start to think you will not pass the lie detector on this occasion, you are feeling it, my old sport. And if you can pass the lie detector, you may consider volunteering to participate in further researches, they are lacking mavericks like you.
As a systematic thinker and somewhat cogent writer, I invite you to deconstruct with me. Let’s make a Y incision on the minds most creative!
Sex — In the old days, women writers could not get published so they assumed men’s identities and remained anonymous, true story. Although there is still sexism in the industry, writers now do come in both sexes, very successful ones too.
Age — Age doesn’t seem to matter that much as long as the writing is good, though life experiences do accumulate as we age therefore are reflected in the writing.
Location — Locations matter, especially in a cultural sense. A Chinese writer and a black writer would probably create content with significant differences that appeal to different audiences. Have you seen the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing’s targeted audience list?
Social Status — Man, this has a lot to do with what you write and what level your vocabulary level can go up to. In contrast, if you are an over-educated middle-class individual, you probably would be lacking the appropriate lingo to write a convincing ghetto fabulous dialogue.
Intelligence — A good writer needs a good level of intelligence to research sophisticated topics and convey complex ideas. I presume that most writers here are literal and intelligent, otherwise, you’d probably consume more graphic contents than reading this. However, if this article seems too long for your attention span, feel free to bail.
Organization — Some write never-ending run-on sentences purely based on the flow of thoughts while others have certain schemes to follow; three-act, snowflake, whatever works. However, the disorganized writers tend to either publish lousy drafts of verbal diarrhea knowingly due to the lack of refining skills or realize they have to rewrite their works in epic portions too late in the writing process and deface the flow significantly enough for the readers to experience the inconsistency. At times they would abandon their writings entirely because the run-ons simply ran off the track.
Serialization — Some writers, like musicians, make a one-hit-wonder and then fizzled out. A great many do create more than one book, some are sequels to the first ones especially if they become commercially successful. It is those who continue to write tend to consider themselves true writers and they tend to have already found a niche in the market for their writing. You either go serial or go home I guess.
Psychological characteristics — And this has a lot to do with the specific genre you choose to write in. As you probably figured out by now, yes, my heart is the darker shade of the black and my mind is more twisted than most incarcerated criminals; therefore, logically and conveniently, crime.
Motive — Much alike motive, passion drives us to write. Without passion, there is no writing, it is especially true when it comes to creative writing. Like killing, you have to have an inert urge to do it and develop a taste for it. Whatever triggered your fancy, as in killing, whether it is the warmth of the splatting blood or the dilation of the pupils, you indulge in that feeling as it intensifies, keeping at it and perfecting your craft on the way and become prolific. Yes, money is a big driven factor for freelancers and career writers alike, it turns the deeds into cash.
Means — According to Malcolm Gladwell, it will probably take you 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field. But writers write; no matter if you write with a biro (pen) on a piece of napkin, type on your laptop with a writing software or simply dictate, you have to be able to write and convey your ideas. If you just want to be a technical writer or a critique then learning is essential and practise definitely makes perfect. But when it comes to creative writing or any creative pursuit, talent is real and is vital to the creation of distinguished works. I have never heard people who produce masterpieces that are without talent. I’m not talking about a bunch of monkeys typing Shakespeare in the infinite universe scenario. And I’m not equating popularity to genius either; true talents, after all, are very few and far between.
Opportunity — Not without trying, most fail, but some had the luck to be signed with major publishing houses. They enjoy a great amount of publicity, adoration and financial reward. Career writers, just like contract killers, make a living out of their craft. They have agents and deadlines, they are serial businessmen and women, they cashout when the deeds are done and move on to their next assignments.
Writer’s Block — the death of passion, cooling off period. A lot of writers are in denial of this phenomena; if they never experienced it, I guess that’s lucky for them. For serious writers who do experience this disease, it is detrimental and soul wrecking. The muse just simply left the building, like a lover who just got up, left and never called. One morning, you woke up and you got nothing in you. It horrifies you, you start to panic, then you try out all the advice, tips and whatnot, taking baths with scented candles, exercise, nap… but still, nothing.
For freelancers who write on the spur of inspirations, they disappear off the radar, wander into the wilderness, meatspace or desolation looking for inspirations, and their Twitter followers wonder how many days since the decomposition started. Until the muse visits again and the urge to write overcomes the convenience of slacking, they are back in business and hopefully with renewed vigour and distilled wisdom from their soul searching activities.
But for career writers with deadlines who cannot afford this kind of luxury, time is money and they need to produce results in spite of dried up inspiration wells. Something, anything, is better than nothing, so there you go, mediocre sequels with conspicuous lettering of the writers’ names on the fancy jackets bulked up with writers’ diarrhea inside. Sooner or later, the fans would realize their idols have lost it and the sales figures would drop significantly. But before that, the publishers are gonna pimp the shit out of the glitters like they are still gold and make the most of it before they drop it like it’s hot.
Of course, I realize there are still many unexplored terrains we have yet to visit and many flaws exist in my reasoning skills. But that’s the best I’ve got for now, until then.