Reblogged from 8GreatStorytellers.WordPress.com.
Every writer should be an amateur psychologist. If your characters act in ways inconsistent with human behavior, your readers will throw up their hands and say, “Nobody would do that!” Their suspended disbelief will drop like a dead bat. But, besides knowing what your characters would not do, psychology can help you design them and can tell you what they would do.
In the process of writing my historical novel, In the Mouth of the Lion, I had to psychoanalyze Hitler, not an easy or pleasant task. But so many facts about Hitler are in the literature that adding up enough of them will give clues to what was going on in his noggin, bearing in mind that about 20% of the “facts” about Hitler are untrue. I think I succeeded to the degree necessary to discover valid, or at least potential answers to these twelve questions: