Lack of Indepth Insight.
by Betty K
Question: I have self-published my first novel and I have some good reviews and some not so good. This one was fairly complementary until the following statement.
" although the author gave good physical descriptions of her characters, there was a lack of indepth insight into their psyches"
How does one go about providing "indepth insight into their psyches?"
Thank you for any help you can give.Answer:
It sounds like the reviewer wanted to know more about the characters' inner lives - what drives them, what they want out of life, their thought processes, and their beliefs, attitudes, and judgements. Dramatica calls these motivations, purposes, methodologies, and evaluations. Characters may also have inner doubts and conflicts over how they should act or be (though they often hide these from the world). All these aspects of personality will affect how a character behaves when challenged by a situation or problem
There is also another layer of character (more superficial) that involves their likes, dislikes, interests, background, the people they associate with, etc.
With non-POV characters, you have to show these aspects of their character through their actions, choices, and speech.
With POV characters, you also describe these more directly by narrating their thoughts and feelings.
Not every story demands as deep a journey into the psyches of characters, but even in a heavily plot-driven story, including these aspects even briefly gives your characters distinct personalities that help them feel more real.
In a character-driven story, readers expect to learn a lot more about the characters' inner lives.
1. Bear in mind, that is only one person's opinion and that reviewers all have their biases and their likes and dislikes. It may simply be that yours was not the kind of story that particular reviewer goes crazy for. On the other hand, if several reviewers say the same thing, then maybe you can look at other possibilities...
2. It may be that you developed your characters in your own mind, but didn't express them in the depth or richness your reviewer wanted.
3. Maybe you didn't develop your characters fully. Do they all talk the same? Do they all make similar choices or hold similar attitudes? Is it hard for the reader know what they're feeling? These are warning signs that might suggest you consider doing more development work for the next book.