Characters – personality is EVERYTHING

by | Jul 1, 2009 | Fiction Book Reviews | 0 comments

As an aspiring author, every time I open a ‘how to’ writing book I feel like I have millions of pages to go before I publish. Last week on Seekerville, Laurie Schnebly Campbell brought out some great points about creating characters. This information, combined with what I’m learning by using Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook on my WIP, has made my brain hurt. There is SO much to know about creating a believable and compelling protagonist.

Some of the things I’m learning:

I’ve been studying different temperment types by using Keirsey’s Temperments. He lists four basic temperments and each have four subcategories. His lists are helpful in giving some detailed information and examples about each temperment.

Along with this, I’ve looked at Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. Again, there are four basic personality types listed here, with a detailed description of each and then the four types are blended into various other combinations to reveal other personalities. It’s a pretty simple and enjoyable read and gives some basics.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s website is very helpful and has FREE printouts 🙂 She employs many tips I’ve learned from other writings. Such as, interviewing your character – and she even gives a list of 20 questions to ask him/her; A History/Characteristics Sheet – or detailed description about your character (looks, past, interests, hobbies..etc).

Laurie discusses Enneagrams (Any-uh-grams) or the nine personality types, and what’s most interesting about these descriptions is that they express the ‘flaws’ within the personality. Laurie’s site is

As I’m completing the Workbook, Donald Maas is pushing me to create a three-dimensional character. One who will leave the reader thinking about them long after the last page. Knowing your character is the key, and studying personality types to develop a detailed protagonist is helpful in developing a deeper knowledge about your characters.

So…when I write a dialogue between two characters, they don’t sound like the same person.
When my protagonist does something unusual, it still fits within her realm of possibility and doesn’t make the reader want to toss down the book with, “No way, she would NEVER do that.”
When my readers are sorry to finish the book or feel like they’ve completed a wonderful journey with a friend (my protagonist), then I’ve developed a character with meaning….

And it’s tough work, or at least I think it is, but it’s SO worth it. When I read now what I wrote back then, I’m thankful my stick-figure protagonists are starting to grow some skin. Hope these tips will help you build more believable, three-dimensional characters.


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