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Why I Put My Main Character in Therapy

As I’m taking a mini-break from working on my books (“mini” being a week and a half or something like that), I’m really focusing on how I can add to my characters in my final book in The Cassie Morgan Series before I take a break. While this has already happened, I want to talk about why I put my main character in therapy and why you should add quirks like this.
Why I Put my Main Character in Therapy
Okay, first things first: I just finished my first draft of Justice & Lies, the third book, last week. Sometime this week I’ll begin the first draft of the fourth book, Hit List. The plan is to publish both of those toward the end of the year, back to back. The way the story falls, it makes sense, at least to me. Book four will have a nice little ending so I can take time off to work on some other novels I want to write (namely a story called Super Ordinary).
Trust me, I still have plenty to tell with Cassie Morgan. That being said, one of the biggest things I’ve done to Cassie is to stick her in therapy. If you haven’t read either book, there are going to be some slight spoilers.
At the end of The AssassinCassie goes through some pretty big things. When Double Played picks up six months later, the first chapter is Cassie in therapy.  It felt like a long shot, putting a character who is an FBI agent in therapy, but I did it for a few reasons.

1. It gives her a different angle

You don’t see a lot of mystery/action stories with characters in therapy. Mystery and action stories are very plot heavy, which is fine, but it makes Cassie stand out as someone who isn’t as tough as others in the genre. Cassie’s life is messy (on purpose). Her thoughts are cluttered, and that’s how life is. Therapy is a way to give Cassie something unique to the genre and unique to her character.

2. It changes the pacing of the story

Mystery and action stories are very quick. One big plot point after another. One murder, one explosion, one horrible thing followed by another.  While this can be fun and enjoyable, you have to give the reader a chance to catch his or her breath. Scenes where Cassie is in therapy are a little slower, more thought based and reflective compared to moments where someone is blowing something up or Cassie discovers a body.
Have you ever thought of putting your character in therapy? Here's why I did. Share on X

3. therapy is a personal experience I’ve had

The summer after my freshman year of college, I spent an hour every week in therapy. It changed me for the better, and I fully believe that everyone needs therapy in their lives – even when you think things are going well. Having experienced what wonderful things therapy can do for someone (who is open to therapy), I knew that Cassie needed therapy to really put together her life after the end of The Assassin. 

So, what can you learn from this?

You don’t need to have your main character in therapy, but you can learn how to leave a lasting impact on your characters. The biggest key to this is making sure you take note of how they react. What characteristics come out when your character finds out bad news? Cassie tends to overthink everything (she also got that from me).
Reactions are a natural, human occurrence and you need to know how your character reacts to them. Then you need to remember what those reactions are, whether you write them down (which you should) or keep them all in the corner of your mind.
I use an Evernote template to keep all my character details together, which you can also get here. By signing up, you’ll be joining the Company, and this weekend’s newsletter is all about how templates are becoming the cornerstone of my life and business.

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