Okay, finally on to my characterization ideas.
As most readers probably know, I love searching the internet for ways to improve my writing – in fact, it’s more like an addiction. In any case, I came across some interesting ways to help develop characters.
We all know that it takes some understanding of human psychology to create believable characters. That said, I know I don’t have the time to study psychology in order to improve my characters. I could use a little help. A cheat sheet maybe. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there are some wondrous resources out there on the internet.
I came across an article (based on a workshop) by romance
writer and speaker Laurie Schnebly Campbell called ‘The Psychology of Creating Characters.’ In it, she says there are basically four things that determine people's character: birth order, priorities, enneagrams, and personality scales. She says:
“Each one of these has the potential for conflict, and conflict is what we need for a great romance novel! And for the real emotional drama, there need to be conflicts of character...conflicts in the way these people approach life.”
Let’s briefly examine how each factor can help us create a better character.
Birth order may affect how your character sees life and how people treat him or her. It may also have a lot of influence on the profession they choose, and how they interact with other people. Knowing the affect of birth order on your character can help you determine her behavior but, you also don’t want to associate the incorrect personality types on your character based on her birth order. Campbell discusses a little bit about how this works in her article; but here are another few links:
Personality Traits Linked To Birth Order
Birth Order - Understand How It Affects Your Personality
How Birth Order can affect your Child's Behaviour and Personality
Wikipedia - Birth order
I know that for me, this technique will be very helpful in developing my characters.
Many character questionnaires encourage you to develop your characters’ priorities. However, knowing a little bit more about them can help you determine which priority is ranked highest for your character, whether or not he is even aware of it. And, this ranking will greatly affect his behavior and decisions and even perceptions of the world around him. Campbell says, “Everyone has individual priorities in addition to universal things like family, job, and world peace. These personal priorities influence every decision they make, and there are only four to choose from… Excellence, Comfort, Pleasing and Control. This choice is never a conscious one; it grows up with the character the same as it grows up with all of us.”
Here are some links:
Career Personality Test
Determine Your Priorities To Maximize Time Use
Your Priorities Exercise
Okay, I have to say, this is my favorite. If you know a little about your character, you can use enneagrams to develop that character further from what you know. The enneagram theory is based on 9 personality types. Campbell says, “Just the names of the nine types are intriguing.”
The Enneagram and Life Coaching
The Enneagram 9 Types
RHETI Test (to determine which type your character falls into)
The New Enneagram Test
For personality scales – and there are loads upon loads of personality tests available online – Campbell discusses the Myers-Briggs character types. They measure four different traits — introvert/extrovert, intuition/sensation, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Each person ranks somewhere along each of those four scales.
What 'Type' Is Your Character?
Wikipedia: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Personality test based on Jung - Myers-Briggs typology
Free Jung Personality Test
The handouts for Campbell’s workshop are available here.
And, just because, here are a few more links to help you discover your character’s motivations and personality.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
More Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Motivational Model
Character Mapping - http://www.emotionaltoolbox.com/free_articles.htm
Character Building Workshop - http://www.writersvillage.com/character/index.htm
And a link to help SHOW your character’s personality rather than TELL:
The Nonverbal Dictionary - http://members.aol.com/nonverbal2/entries.htm
Now, get to work.