First a shout-out to Vicki Weavil for her pub contract! Yay, Vicki! And congrats to those Thursday’s Children who made it into The Writer’s Voice contest – Good Luck! For those who tried, but didn’t, or who didn’t enter at all…stay tuned for news about a very special contest designed for “virgin” manuscripts in the YA/NA genre.
Inspired by Psychology Tests (Part 2)…
Last week, we had fun with the Luscher Color Test, right? This week I’m excited to bring you the Thematic Apperception Test. I should start by saying this is an “old school” psych tool and rarely used nowadays. Most of the images you’ll find online have a mid-20th century feel. I find this test intriguing because essentially it’s Flash Fiction. The pictures are often morally ambiguous and some suggest strong emotional content. The client is shown an image and narrates a story to go with it. In theory, the client’s narrative will reveal unresolved issues, fears, pathology, etc.
Here are a couple of TAT images.
Hmm, is he/she cradling or strangling?
He looks none too pleased…
The psychiatrist in my WIP shows the photo below to my MC. Orla is selectively mute and therefore she writes the story. I should mention a couple of things. One, she’s a twisted piece of work. Two, she and Dr. Spurwick have an unhealthy relationship.
From my Untitled WIP…
He gives me my own pad, and a pen. I’m not allowed to erase. It’s one of the rules.
“Fifteen minutes,” he says.
I click the end of the pen. A glossy clot of red ink dangles from the tip. Perfect.
Billy’s intestines writhe like snakes in a barrel. She’ll be angry. Beyond angry. He should have run away while he had the chance. But his fear of being without her is greater than his fear of being with her.
“What have you done?” she demands, droplets of her saliva peppering his cheeks.
Her eyes shoot little arrows of rage at him. The force of her hatred cracks him open like a surgical rib-spreader. She wishes he’d never been born. Wishes she’d torn him from her womb and thrown him in the sea. Or down the toilet. Her rejection claws out his heart and drops it on the cabin floor.
Blood seeps into the raw wood boards, staining them dark red.
I stop writing to draw the bleeding heart. How had he known I’d need a red pen?
“Nothing,” he says. That isn’t true, of course, but his instinct is to lie. To protect himself at all costs, for as long as possible.
“Clearly you have. What’s in the oven? It smells horrible. And where’s Emmy? Did you put her in the shed again? I should have known you couldn’t be trusted to look after her.” He shakes his head. Maybe if he doesn’t speak of it, they can pretend nothing happened. Then maybe he could think all the bad away—make it disappear. Or maybe he could make himself disappear. He closes his eyes. He forces himself to watch. There’s the small shriek of the oven door opening. And then a much louder one from his mother. “Oh, my God!” He closes his eyes now. The wild sobbing makes the heart on the floor, his heart, throb, spurting out his remaining blood. He opens his eyes a crack. She holds the charred baby girl to her chest, rocking back and forth. “Get OUT!” she screams, her face grotesquely contorted, shiny with tears.
Billy sits on the front stoop. Waiting.
I hand Dr. Spurwick the paper.
Do you like doing Flash Fiction? What story would your MC tell to go with this photo?
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I love flash fiction and really enjoyed that excerpt from your WIP. I believe if my MC saw this picture her story would be less exciting than yours. It would probably be about a boy waiting for a parent or someone important to him to return.
Hey there, thanks for popping by! Hope you’re joining us again soon 🙂
Eeeee! This is intentionally dark. Were you speaking metaphorically about the heart on the floor? Well, you must be, b/c he couldn’t survive it otherwise, unless there’s a magic element, albeit a dark one. Now I can’t get the charred–was it really his sister?–baby out of my mind. And just in time for Mother’s Day! Lol. I think my intestines are churning, darling. Just teasing. I write of dark things, too. Very intriguing, and I’m curious about your premise.
In the first pic, I see cradling, although I can’t make sense of the passive figure leaning slumped against the staircase–my initial reaction as the active figure would be to support the woman first, then cradle, so it’s a conundrum for me.
The second pic makes me think of a editor with a new storyline, relaying it to Lois Lane. 😛
On another day I might see something darker; the process is very subjective that way.
Yes, Orla was speaking metaphorically about the heart, but realistically about the baby girl. I did warn you she’s a bit twisted and she likes to jerk her psychiatrist around, because he deserves it.
I understand. The dark and twisty ones are the most interesting to play with. 😀 I have a few too.
Okay, you were definitely not exaggerating by saying your MC is a twisted piece of work. I never could have gotten that out of that picture. Intriguing but dark excerpt. Thanks for sharing. Your WIP sounds like it will be a sure-fire page turner, Rhiann!
Yes. It’s dark. And I suppose I must be a twisted piece of work too, since Orla’s thoughts spring to life in my brain. Oh well.
Titus Andronichus. What more can I say; except I’m glad you live with your characters and I with mine. I don’t think I could sleep at night if I had to live with yours. Although I don’t normally like first person present, the intensity was/is compelling; so that point of view faded into the background (as it should).
Orla is actually a sympathetic character in many ways, despite her macabre outlook on life. I might send her to visit you one day 😉
I’ll introduce her to Pitch Perfect, if she hasn’t already seen it.
Well now I’m traumatized for the day. Thanks Rhiann.
Any time 🙂
Holy crappers – I’m really wanting to read this now!!! Wow.
I have a love/hate relationship with flash fiction. I have to force myself to do it, but whenever I do, I love it.
Be careful what you wish for…
Now that was dark. But I’m definitely intrigued– and I love the idea of giving my character this personality test.
Maybe next week you could do a TC post on your character’s response to the picture…
Thanks for reminding me about changing the ” marks 🙂
They say people who write the creepiest stories are the nicest in real life. Right now, I’m thinking this must be true. Fun snippet and cool test. I vote for strangling rather than cradling.
Of COURSE it’s true. Two votes for strangling then… 🙂
The imagery of that excerpt was wild! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
My MC in my new WIP wouldn’t write anything as dark as that (boy was there powerful imagery there in a sick and twisted way!) but she would write about her desperate longing for a child of her own.
I want more! And it’s definitely strangling 😉
Strangling is definitely winning! And yes, of course you’ll get more 🙂
I had never heard of those tests before, they sound really interesting! Also, your excerpt was definitely dark and twisted and intriguing. Orla sounds like she might be fun to write!
Oh, she absolutely is.
The top one for me, even though she’s sort of has a whacked-out Joan Crawford look about her, the woman is cradling a man who’s fallen down the stairs while they wait for the ambulance. Even though she often questions whether or not she still loves him, she’s now wondering what will happen to her if he dies. Hence the odd clutching of her visible hand.
The center one has a sort of Ward Cleaver is in a mood because his dinner isn’t ready, and he knows June has been on the phone gossiping with her hen friends all afternoon instead of making his Wednesday meatloaf. Sorry about the sexism in both. As you say, they both smack of mid-century drama. (i.e. “No more jello for me!”)
The bottom one just sent me to an Our Gang episode, where a new character, Shorty, is told he’s too small to play baseball, so he’s sitting out the game, forlorn as only a Shorty can be, until he outgrows his moniker.
What I’ll say about your excerpt is: WOW! I knew your talent would be a knockout, but damn, that’s some engrossing prose! Love the crossing out of closing his eyes, then straight into forcing himself to watch. Awesomeness. (Sorry to be late for an awesome post… Again. I’ll try to do better next time.)
Haha, yes indeed, meatloaf, Jell-O molds, and “wait til your father gets home!” Glad you enjoyed that dark little snippet. Thank you for stopping by, would you like some Junket?
I would agree that it’s strangling in that image. I’ve never done any flash fiction before. Sounds interesting. The story was gruesome and visceral but good! 🙂
Flash fiction is fun. I’ve done it a couple of times in contests and I find it’s a good counterpoint to a novel, like doing warm up exercises before the big game or something 🙂
Thanks. And definitely give Flash Fiction a shot, it’s a good creativity-booster.
Ooh, dark. LOVE. I can’t wait to read your twisted character. Damn. *shivers*
The story sounds fascinating!
The MC who I’m working with right now, her name is Drew, I think she’d look at the picture of the little boy in the doorway and write a story about a tough but lonely kid.
I love posts like this one and I hope you give us some more psych tests and samples from your WIP!
When I looked up info on the actual image of the little boy it’s from a series of photographs taken during the Great Depression, so he might indeed have had to be a tough kid to survive. I’m considering another psych test for next week, we’ll see…
LOVE IT! Dark & Lovely. Awesome heart metaphor!!! Thanks for sharing:)
Heart of darkness 😉
That. Was. Fantastic! Love it!
Glad you enjoyed!
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Nice! Sorry I couldn’t participate this week 😦
I can’t seem to do flash fiction, so I admire those that can do it! Loved the excerpt.
Whoa –I’m thoroughly freaked out!
I want to do the personality tests. That first photo doesn’t look good, and the one with the old man–just looks like he’s flirting, but the woman is definitely not diggin’ it. Great work. love your writing.