I told you she’d be back! And HOW! She’s got a great post for us about characterization that follows some of the psychological temperaments and personality traits. Very interesting. Without further ado, HERE’S DARIEL!
One Of My Favorite Recipes For Building “Real” Characters: An Introduction
Ask nearly any avid reader what makes a great story, and they’ll tell you – believable, mufti-faceted, three-dimensional characters. They might not use those same terms, but the meaning is the same. One of the most magical things about great books is, as I like to say, “they take you there.” It’s as if you’re right there in the thick of the action, living vicariously through the characters. When you find yourself openly talking to them, even arguing with them, and you know you’re relatively sane (really. I am. I’ve been tested), that’s a great character!
So, how do we create great characters? I’m glad you asked I’ve always been a rather colorful character myself, and when I added a master’s in Psychology to the mix, my recipe was in the works because it gave me legitimate, as we like to say here in the South, bonafide tools. Today, I’ll share the “Type Sorter” recipe with you. It comes from years of administering personality tests.
According to Keirsey, there are Four temperaments, splitting into four “branches,” if you will, creating 16 basic personality types. Now, as with any “type,” there is infinite variance. The type simply means these people have certain tendencies in common. Consider this a framework to which you can add personal quirks, fears, and peculiarities to make your characters as unique as we all are.
So here we go. The four temperaments are: Guardians, Artisans, Idealists, and Rationals. Each of these four temperaments has four branches, each of which has its own distinct characteristics as well. Guardians: supervisors, inspectors, providers, and protectors. The titles tell you quite a bit, but generally speaking, people with this personality type are dependable, hard-working, helpful, loyal, stabilizing, dutiful yet cautious, humble, somewhat focused on tradition, seek security by joining groups (or relationships), and dream of meting out justice.
Artisan branches are: Promoters, Crafters, Performers, and Composers. These are fun-loving, optimistic people who are focused on the here and now. They pride themselves on being unconventional, bold, and spontaneous. They seek playful mates. They are excitable, impulsive, seek stimulation, and prize their freedom. This is the perfect place to interject an easy way to direct conflict through characterization. Imagine a freedom-loving, stimulation-seeking Artisan-type in a budding relationship with a dutiful, relationship-oriented, traditional Guardian-type. Do you need much more conflict than that? And it’s natural, simply based on seemingly “irreconcilable” differences – of course, they say opposites attract!
Idealists are: Teachers, Counselors, Champions (heroes?), and Healers. They are enthusiastic, intuitive, romantic, self-actualizing, prize meaningful relationships, and seek to attain wisdom. They pride themselves on being kindhearted, loving, and authentic. They tend to be giving, relatively trusting, spiritual, and they focus on developing human potential. Think, Ghandi, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey.
Last, but certainly not least because this is my personal temperament group – Rationals are: Field marshals, Masterminds (LOL – is that a real characteristic?), Inventors, and Architects. Rationals are pragmatic, skeptical, self-contained, focused on problem-solving and systems analysis (not just computer systems, but how things work together in general). They pride themselves on being ingenious, independent, and strong-willed. Reasonable if a bit chilly as mates, these people are generally even-tempered, trust logic, yearn for achievement, seek knowledge, and dream of understanding how things and people work.
Now, you have the basic framework, the four temperaments, each with four branches, giving us 16 “types” with which to work. Keep in mind that each of these temperaments has tendencies toward particular positives and negatives. Nothing makes a character more pronounced, be it villain or hero, than taking those positives or negatives to the extreme, or throwing a quirk in the mix by giving your character qualities that constantly conflict with his/her basic make up. For example, who wouldn’t want an Idealist by his/her side? Yet…personally, I don’t find the Idealist sexy unless he has a gruff exterior and saves the idealism for me –like opening a delicious package the rest of the world doesn’t know about. Yummy!
Play with it – imagine a Guardian forced to live as a loner most of his life, or he’s been hurt to the point of choosing to live as a loner. Those natural tendencies appeared to have atrophied (on the surface), and you have a Guardian who is petrified of close relationships. Although he’s no less a Guardian despite his situation, he doesn’t realize what he’s capable of until he develops feelings for a special woman. That’s a conflict and a romance in the making. Now, imagine a Rational thrown into an unavoidable relationship with a passionate Idealist. Although the Rational keeps thinking her feelings make absolutely no sense, she can’t stop feeling drawn to this man! Again, conflict and romance in one.
As you can probably tell, I can go on and on about this, but don’t worry. I won’t. Later, I plan to write a series of articles about characterization because the subject is so vast, and this is just one of my favorites. This is plenty to get you started, and if you’re curious about your own “type,”or just want more information before I get around to posting it on my “musing” site, here’s a link to the actual test. Enjoy!
Thank you for being here, Dariel.
Hey readers! I took the test. I’m a Guardian (I expected that!) Whta are you? Comment below and tel us. It’ll be fun to see who is what!