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Writing for a character with ptsd

Discussion in 'Studies & Research' started by Antique, Apr 30, 2018.

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  1. Antique

    Antique New Member


    I'm currently writing for a very troubled character. Both her parents were murdered in front of at at the age of 16 and fast forward to her 20's, she's still very deeply troubled by it.

    I actually accidentally wrote PTSD into her. I read a forum that people, at any age, who suffer a sudden loss of a parent, are more prone to develop depression and PTSD. Once I looked it up and found most symptoms match her, I embraced it and hope to have proper representation of patients suffering through PTSD.

    But that's the problem, I, myself, don't suffer trauma. The closest thing to trauma I've had was being cheated on, and that was just me being sensitive to blowjob jokes or jokes about being cheated on.

    I would just like to run through things I've had her do to subtly show her emotionally wounded sides.

    1. She avoids the house at all costs because the silence of her childhood home brings too much memories back. She's gone as far as to pick up 12 hour shifts everyday, and going on long walks afterwards during the summer so it gets dark enough where when she does come home, she pretty much can't see anything. This ultimately leaves her to neglect her younger brother and leaves her extremely exhausted.

    2. She avoids talking about her parents at any cost. If her brother mentions anything relating to their mom or dad, she immediately shuts it down.

    3. She tries to not think at all. Of the four years she's worked on a farm, it's gotten to the point where she's forgotten a lot of things, such as: What it's like to wonder about things, what its like to think for yourself, what her fathers laugh sounded like, what her mothers name was, etc. This was recently written into her, as after my girlfriend of four years cheated on me, I've basically forgot all the important and little moments we've has together just so I could function. I'm not saying I have PTSD, but the concept of "Trying to forget" really interested me. Also I wanted an interesting way for a character to forget without relying on drugs or alcohol.

    Hell, at one point in the story, I had her wear her Dads clothes because she was more concerned with comfortablity. The fact that it was her dads clothes completely flew over her head until her brother mentioned something about it.

    4. She has regular, reoccurring night terrors. I've tried to not write this out, as I hate scenes that take place in dreams. I only write these night terrors as "She awoke with a sharp inhale" or "She mumbled in her sleep, her eyes troubled." Simple, brief, and almost forgettable to portray the feeling she has with these nightmares. She's gotten used to it, and quickly forgets about it minutes after waking up.

    5. She stares blankly at things, unthinking. This happens a lot, especially on days where it's raining (as it was rainy when her parents died) or when she's waiting for something. She finds herself zoning out often, everything becoming muffled or out of worldly. I've had her do this when there are long pauses of silence between characters, and when she does speak, it's in short, brief phrases.

    There's a lot more to her but I feel like those are the most important things. I genuinely care about every detail about this character, and I want to have proper, grounded-in-reality representation. I took a lot of inspiration from Joel from The Last of Us and wrote a lot of aspects from him into her, though less jaded.

    I just wanted to share this hear and get some feedback. I know it's hard to properly judge this character without reading my material, but the main thing I want to get right is not over-dramatizing things. I want this to feel like a deeply troubled human being.

    What advice should be given to her? The only moral message I have being given is, "Talk about it, but only when you're ready," as I have her brother constantly wanting to talk about what happened, but she's simply not ready to talk about it.
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  3. Suzetig

    Suzetig Still the Staff Kitteh... Moderator Sponsor $100+

    I’m going to be honest with you, these types of threads tend not to get very positive responses because the fiction you’re writing about is the lived experience of some of the folk here and it can feel voyeuristic to ask people to comment on your fictional account while they struggle with their own issues.

    There are ways for you to research the lived experience of PTSD in a more transparent way, by appropriate reading, consulting clinicians who work with PTSD, using focus groups with appropriate consent etc and I’d suggest you explore that route.

    Experiences of PTSD are many and varied and the very nature of this forum folk here tend to have been very significantly affected, which means their experience may not translate over but also means folk often find it difficult to engage in “tell me how the worst thing in your life impacted you so that I can colour in my fictional character” discussions. Your description of someone you’re portraying as “deeply troubled” doesn’t touch the surface of the challenges some folk here have in daily life, that you don’t understand that suggests you really don’t have a basic knowledge of PTSD.

    I wish you every good thing for your book but suggest you go and do some proper research.
  4. Neverthesame

    Neverthesame A Mind The Dead Have Ravaged Premium Member Donated

  5. somerandomguy

    somerandomguy Learning how to be myself Premium Member

    Did you know that, as a writer, you can actually control what you write about?

    It's true. You should really try that. Except I suspect you're the type of writer that likes to judge how good of a writer they are by the number of words they get down on a screen every November.

    Go away.
  6. CatInTree

    CatInTree Active Member

    You probably mean well. I can understand wanting to write accurately.

    But coming to a support forum to ask us to dig through our real life stuff to help you with your fiction comes across as exploitive. Digging through stuff is hard and requires a ton of aftercare. It should be done for healing which this isn't. It's to help you, not us.

    If you want to write accurately, go consult professionals. Read literature about ptsd. Watch public talks. Use pretty much any method of finding information except touristing a support group to get us to help you.
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