Trying to write mentally ill characters is very difficult. You don’t want it to be over the top where it doesn’t feel like a person anymore, and more like a trope ridden character to the point of comic relief or the subject of an angry Tumblr user’s post.
Right now, I’m writing two characters; both suffering from mental illnesses. Namely, anti social personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder and sociopathy/psychopathy.
Now this is the trick. Making the character decent interesting enough that the reader doesn’t throw the book away and doesn’t want to read it anymore. Because it’s just too much, or alternatively, they become so cartoony that they’re a Rob Zombie character and it becomes a joke.
It’s a fine line to walk.
I know I suffer from depression and (might) have a bipolar disorder and let me tell you how frustrating it is to see mentally ill characters be misrepresented as goofy extremes. And even though these characters are sociopaths/psychopaths, and not many people would have sympathy for them, I am the first to say that I don’t want you to sympathize with them.
I forgot to mention that they’re serial killers. So, I don’t want them to be likable. But what I do want is for them to be interesting enough that someone would want to know what happens to them, and like them as characters, but not as people.
I’m afraid I’m being vague, but it’s hard to comprehend my own thoughts. And believe me, as I’m pouring through book after book about serial killers and the DSM on mental illnesses, on the verge of crying tears and blood… I doubt I’m making any sense at all. This is my third cup of coffee for the night and I’m out of creamer.
This couple represents both sides of serial killers; organized, and disorganized, and the levels of sociopathy and psychopathy. These characters are Jade LaValette and Miles Ashbury, and I am very proud of them. And I hope all my research hasn’t gone to waste.
Jade is indefinitely a sociopath, and the character whose eyes we see through. She’s prone to explosive rage from small to large triggers, and attacks like an animal ripping apart its prey. Hot headed and easily offended. So, a lot of her crimes are disorganized. So, the crime scenes are sloppy to a certain extent. But mostly, she makes excuses for her actions, and lying
Miles is a psychopath. Very aware of what he is and who he is. And the thing is, he doesn’t care. He’s cool headed, very in control of himself and controlling of everyone around him. He’s manipulative and unlike Jade, doesn’t have anything he won’t kill if it steps in his way.
The trick is getting them to love each other and depicting it. I feel Jade has more emotions because she still has some empathy, even if its very little. So, she would love Miles, but Miles on the other hand… I believe he would have a off way of showing his affection and love. He can mimic traditional love from films and books, but he doesn’t understand why or feel that genuine affection.
Of course this is still up in the air, and I’m just speculating at this point.