I’m having trouble writing a character with a dual personality. Do you have any advice on writing a character that talks to themselves? I can’t seem to figure out a way to do it that won’t be confusing.
If the character has a dual personality, then we’re not necessarily talking about the character talking to himself. At least not as far as the character is concerned.
I actually tackle this one in Damnation with Xaphine.
In this story, we’re dealing with a fallen angel that has been corrupted by the powers of Hell. In order to keep her safe, the devil places her on Earth in the form of a human. He also completely wipes her mind. She doesn’t even completely remember her own name and chooses the name Xaphine for herself.
This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but I’ll do my best not to give away too much;
Because of extenuating circumstances, the angel, General Xaphan (now Xaphine) spends about a decade among humans, more time than anyone intended. She marries, has friends, and a life that she cherishes. When the devil finally comes for her, she puts up a fight. He eventually restores her memory but because he’s lost much of his power, he’s unable to remove… as he calls it, the human taint.
Because of this, the clash of her human memories with those of her angelic ones completely destroys her psyche. To compensate, her mind quickly separates both sets of memories and forms two symbiotic personalities, one is a confused mesh of her human traits, as well as her angelic persona, while the other is the darker persona combined with her angelic traits.
So how do I make that work when they need to confront one another? Well… I guess you could say that I make her hallucinate. Time freezes and she goes to an undisclosed location where her other personality exists when its not in control. They argue about what to do in certain circumstances.
So that’s pretty much how I handle dual personalities. I also name them differently. One is Xaphan, the other is Xaphine.
Otherwise, you’re pretty much just going back and forth saying ‘he said to himself’ and ‘he thought to himself.’
I hope this helps!
Readers, how do you handle this type of thing? Let AJ know in the comments!
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I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
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