Saturday, 20 August 2011

Unique Help With Characterization

Tell Me a Story

Not only do characters have to overcome major and minor obstacles throughout a story, they have to grow in some way. Shortcomings are what make our central characters seem human; however, readers want those shortcomings made virtuous by the end of the book.

Each central character has to surmount some part of their personality in order for them to develop during the course of the story. In order to achieve this, writers need to understand what a character’s significant flaws might be. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of, and to balance these shortcomings.

It is convenient that enneagram philosophers have classified nine personality types, each with a distinctive strength, and flaw.  These strengths and flaws can build trouble for personality types and those around, especially if a strength or flaw is taken to extremes.

As writers, we can exploit those nine types to generate conflict between our central characters and use them as internal struggles they have to conquer.

  • Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.
  • Type Two is demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive.
  • Type Three is adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
  • Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.
  • Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
  • Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
  • Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered.
  • Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, wilful, and confrontational.
  • Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent.

So there you are. Someone else has done it for you. Keep this list in front of you as you build your character’s profile, and use it to advantage. It will serve you well.