Fictional Character Development

A while back, I attended a writer’s conference session about character development. The speaker suggested using astrological signs as a means to create believable, consistent characters. My knowledge of astrology is scant, but I tried to apply it to the characters in “Winter is Past.” The results weren’t what I’d hoped for.

When I worked in the area of nursing education, human resources and spirituality, I had the opportunity to delve into Myers-Briggs…a personality evaluation tool that assesses behavior based on four areas of response: Introversion versus Extroversion, Intuitive versus Sensate, Thinking versus Feeling and Perceptive versus Judgmental. The latter may not be so self-explanatory but I use the example of my parents: my dad would be ready to go somewhere 20 minutes ahead of time, while my mother would change her mind a few more times about what she wanted to wear. Think: structured versus easy-going.

When I went back into “Winter is Past,” I used this tool to help me create Claire, Josh, Helene and other characters. For “The Sin of His Father,” I wrote out character profiles before I began to write, again using the Myers-Briggs. It has made it so much easier.

I have an old book called “Please Understand Me” which explains all the possible combinations and how they play out in real life. If you can find it, it’s been a God-send.

Another avenue I’ve thought about using is the Enneagram. Maybe for novel number three. In the meantime, I’ve gotta get back to the novel-in-progress.

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