August 31, 2020- Let’s talk about writing characters with certain behavioural disorders. I’ve chosen to touch on Narcissism, which is defined as selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration as characterizing a personality type. Self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as of feature of mental disorder.
I’m not suggesting that all villains are characters with behavioural disorders, and I’m certainly not minimizing that for those who battle with this in real life. What I’m saying is that some characters are given these traits when we write them because they exist in the people around us, and that’s where our inspiration comes from. I’m also not suggesting that anyone with a behavioural disorder is a villain, either.
I’d like to focus on one character in particular who exhibits all of the traits below to give you a point of reference; Gaston from Beauty and the Beast is the ultimate Narcissist.
- Lack Empathy: Gaston doesn’t care about anyone but himself and getting what he wants. He doesn’t care that Belle’s father has been taken by the beast and locked up and considered a crazy old man.
- Conversation Hogger: Gaston never lets Le Fou, or anyone else, get a word in edgewise. He always controls the conversation, talks over others, shouts, interrupts, and dominates the conversation to suit himself.
- Self-Importance: Remember this song? “Who’s the man among men? Who’s the super success? Don’t you know? Can’t you guess? Ask his fans and his five hangers-on. There’s just one man in town who’s got all of it down and his name’s G-A-S-T-O-N!” No additional information is needed about what Gaston thinks of himself.
- False Image Projection: “Gaston is the best, and the rest is all drips”… “I’m roughly the size of a barge!” Enough said.
- Rule Breaking: Gaston feels as though he’s above the rules. He goes to Belle’s house uninvited and unwelcomed, muscles his way in, and expects her to oblige to his every whim. He stands on the table in the bar, wrecks the place, and doesn’t think the rules apply to him.
- Blame: “Who does that girl think she is?” speaking about Belle when she “rejects, humiliates” him.
When writing your characters, be sure to do your research on specific traits that you want them to have so that you can build your author credibility and write your characters the way they need to be written to move your story forward.