We’ve safely made back to the swamp from Troll mountain, and the ooze is feeling extra nice between my toes. My feet were drying out up there, it’s no wonder the Trolls are cranky. All is quiet around the swamp, the zombies are happily grazing on unsuspecting folks brains. My muse has his tool belt on and it’s time to get serious about improving my craft.
I am always drawn to books that are character driven. I want to know who I’m on the path with when I journey into the pages of a book. To that end I’m reading three books on enneagrams so that I may better understand my characters. The enneagram is a system for identifying the nine personality types: Perfectionist, Nurturer, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Skeptic, Adventurer, Leader, and Peacemaker.
In my quest to know and understand the characters who inhabit my novel I’ve learned that being true to a personality type can be tricky. All personalities respond to stimuli differently, but the same personality can also respond to the same stimuli in a different way. For instance an achiever will work very hard to be seen in a good light and be liked, or the achiever can be deceptive and strive for the appearance of a hard worker and a good friend. The great thing about writing fiction is I get to decide if he’s going to be a hero or a jerk. How fun is that? This is what makes character driven novels great, no one is all good or all bad, even the antagonist needs a motive. He can’t be evil for evils sake. Somewhere inside he believes the greater good will be served if all teenage romance vampire novelists, were tossed into a wood chipper. (Wait that’s a good thing right? Sorry I digress.)
All personalities are influenced by the personality connecting them on the enneagram to some extent, and this too causes them to respond differently to a situation. As with real people characters can be influenced by experience. ”It hurts when I stick hand in the wood chipper, won’t do that again.”
Two of the books I’m reading are self-help style books giving the reader a test to find his or her personality type. The third was written for writers and it takes a less in-depth look into each one type. It provides an overview of the enneagram technique and describes the strengths and weaknesses of each type. illustrating how a character will relate to another type and even opportunities for the character growth. The problem with knowing everything about your character is you can’t put it all in the novel. This, like all research needs to be carefully combed through and sprinkled throughout in small amounts. That of course, requires great discipline or a group of friends who can honestly critique your work. Since discipline is a whole other topic and one I’m not the versed on I count my self fortunate to have the later.
The vertically challenged evil ones are a blessing and I can never be humble or grateful enough for the help they provide me. so here is your heads up. I might be including way to much personality detail in my coming submissions. The book is ‘Believable Characters, Creating with Enneagrams’ by Laurie Schnebly.
I don’t usually do movie reviews, but as a writer I must say I enjoyed Midnight in Paris. For all you aspiring writers I say go see it. Warning there is NO BLOODSHED, OR GRATUITOUS SEX, but go see it anyway.
As is the custom I’ll leave you with this quote from Orson Wells in honor of the fourth of July.
“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”