Psychology in Writing: The Id – Writing Process

Writing Process

In our writing, a way to think about the Id is the little devil on our characters’ shoulders. The


The protagonists of 2001's Golden Sun, clockwi...

The protagonists of 2001’s Golden Sun, clockwise from top: Mia, Ivan, Isaac and Garet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Id whispers to our characters all thing things they should do other than what they are supposed to do.  As the Id is a self-preservation drive, it would tell our characters to stay home, not to help others; it focuses on selfish questions like what have the others done for us any ways, and don’t we have our own needs to get met? The Id is also the compulsion to do things that we would not expect protagonists to do such as lie and cheat to get what they want.  In relation to others, the Id driven protagonist may be living by the motto “the ends justify the means.”  This can lead to a manipulation of others by our protagonists to get their needs met and can be a source of conflict with those who would work with them/follow them.  In writing, the most powerful protagonists are those who are able to see and acknowledge their Id and put away their own selfish drives to achieve a goal that is greater than self.

The antagonists in our writing who are Id driven can easily become one dimensional; think about a megalomaniac who’s only drive is for power regardless of who gets crushed along the way.  While it may be provide visually appealing images and reinforce for our readers what “evil” looks like it does not provide the antagonist depth.  This depth can be provided through back-story explaining/showing how our antagonists become so narrowly focused or why they cannot better internally regulate.  Going back to our cartoon analogy, the “bad” character has a regulatory angel, even if the devil beats the angel every time; don’t forget that we should allow even our vilest villains a moment to hear the consequences of the other side of their actions.


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