Thursday, April 24, 2014

Umbilical Cord: Parent/Child Relationship Testing #Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

   
TAT (Thematic Apperception Test) Card
      Nature or nurture?  Which is more important, heredity or the environment in which we are raised? The answer still seems to be...both.  Even some of the inherited genes which predispose us to certain diseases and disorders can be heavily influenced by environmental factors.  But I don't think that anyone will argue that the relationships we have with our parents (or whoever raised us for the most part) are the most influential in our lives.

     While parents may not figure in your story, you might want to think about what sort of people they were and how your characters were raised.  Picture the home environment, the neighborhood, the social circle.  Were they a family of wealthy professionals, immigrants struggling to integrate, solidly middle class with a dog and a minivan?  How were your characters schooled?  Disciplined?  Did their parents cheer them on at sports events or were they always too busy? 

     There are a few psychological tests which can be used for children as young as 7 or 8 years old to examine perceptions, attitudes and experiences.  They can provide insight into a child's home life, relationships with parents and other family members, and reveal some of the child's internal thought processes, cognitive abilities, strengths and fears.

TAT (Thematic Apperception Test)
32 picture cards are used which include male, female, and gender-neutral figures. (There's also a blank one.) The subject is asked to tell a story for each picture including what led up to the event shown, what is happening in the picture, what the characters are thinking/feeling, and how the story ends.  (I was given this test when I was in 5th grade and I vividly remember the picture at the top of the post.  I thought it was really creepy.  I still do.)

Bricklin Perceptual Scales
This test is often used by professionals involved with child custody issues. The BPS can be administered to children as young as 6 years old.  It assesses the child’s perception of his or her parents in four areas: Competence, Follow-up Consistency, Supportiveness (warmth and empathy), and Possession of Admirable Personality Traits.

There are 64 questions, 32 about the mother and 32 about the father. Each question is printed on a card. On the back of each card is a response choice line from “Not So Well" to "Very Well". The test administrator reads the question, and the child gives a verbal answer. Then the child is asked the same question, worded differently, and the child answers by punching a hole in the card somewhere along the response line. This second, non-verbal response is considered the more important of the two answers.

HTP (House-Tree-Person) Test
This is a simple projective test.  The subject is given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw a house, a tree and a person.  Once he is finished, he is asked to explain it.

So, have you ever spent time thinking about a character's upbringing even though it wasn't addressed in the story?  


    

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

By Rhalden at Wikimedia Commons
Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument

Here is the mission statement from Kilmann Diagnostics :
"KILMANN DIAGNOSTICS is an e-learning organization that's dedicated to resolving conflict throughout the world. We pursue this vital mission by providing a series of online courses and assessment tools that integrate the wisdom of conflict management and change management. 
Based on Dr. Kilmann's four decades of research, teaching, and consulting experience, conflict and change are intertwined through a carefully orchestrated sequence of eight tracks for quantum transformation: cultures, skills, teams, strategy-structures, reward systems, and three process improvement tracks."

OK.

The TKI posits 5 conflict behavior styles:  competing, avoiding, accommodating, compromising and collaborating.  These styles are determined by varying degrees of assertiveness or cooperativeness which you assign to pairs of statements on a test.

OK.

Simply put, when we are in conflict with others we attempt to satisfy our own needs, and/or the needs of the other, to varying degrees.  No one handles conflict the same way every day, but most of us have an overall pattern.  The TKI tries to identify your particular "go-to" pattern.

Conflict is essential to a good story.  Perfect relationships put me to sleep.  They never, ever fight? Quarrels are resolved in two minutes with a kiss and "honey, I love you"? Oh come on.

Characters who are unceasing jackasses also bore me.  No one is a jerk 100% of the time.  (I know someone will point out that I'm wrong in the comments section.  Just don't use names, please.)

Use minor conflicts to round out your characters.  How do they handle a snarky teenager, an irritating neighbor, an interfering co-worker, a tailgater on the freeway?  Conflict, by the way, is a golden opportunity to utilize humor and wit in your writing.

Have you ever had a quarrel or heated argument, gone home and spent the next two hours conjuring up all of the brilliant retorts and barbs that you couldn't think of at the time?

Yeah.

Me too.






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Semantic Differential - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

     The semantic differential type rating scale evaluates perceptions and attitudes toward an object, person, place, concept, etc.  The subject chooses a position on a scale between two opposite adjectives.  For example, how do you feel about cats? On a scale of 1-5, where 1 is "evil" and 5 is "good" are you maybe a 2 or 3?  Where 1 is "hateful" and 5 is "lovely"? Where 1 is "disgusting" and 5 is "desirable"?

     Charles E. Osgood 's scale found 3 attitude "types" or categories that people use:  evaluation (value), potency (strength), and activity. Examples might include the opposites strong-weak (potency), dull-brilliant (evaluation) or lazy-industrious (activity).

Create a few positions and rate your character. (You can make up your own of course. These are just suggestions.)

bad/good
passive/defiant
timid/courageous
dark/bright
humble/conceited
opinionated/open-minded
lackadaisical/dynamic
gloomy/cheery
injurious/beneficial
monochromatic/colorful
cowardly/brave
irrational/reasonable

Now give the scale to someone who has read your draft.

Compare the scale answers.  Are they similar or markedly different?  Is your character perceived in an entirely different manner by the reader than what you had thought/hoped for?  Or is your depiction right on? What does that tell you about perceptions of your character?  Do you need to re-think how he is represented through dialogue and interaction?  Has the reader's answers given you any additional insights about your character?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Writing In A Nutshell - And A Drabble #AtoZChallenge


Links to buy it here

R is for a review of a book (which I won back in February) called Writing In A Nutshell by Jessica Bell.

Writing In A Nutshell is a handy little resource for writers.  This all-in-one edition includes Show and Tell, Adverbs and Cliches, and Six Senses.  Each section is a workshop with clear and concise explanations, examples, prompts and exercises.  Show and Tell, for example, has side-by-side entries;  an example of "telling" on the left, and a re-worked "showing" version on the right.  In fact, the entire book shows you what to do instead of just telling you.

This isn't a book to pick up, read and shelve;  it really is a workshop, and to get the most out of it you will need to sit down, study the examples and work on the exercises.  I've found it an excellent resource for editing as well as writing.

I found the Six Senses particularly useful in crafting characters.  You can reveal far more about characters than you may realize by allowing the reader to experience the world through their senses and perceptions.


***I also wrote a guest post today at Stuart Nager's Talespinning Blog  called "Roadside Table".  His A to Z Challenge theme is "Signs", and each post is a drabble (exactly 100 words) prompted by a sign of some sort.  Stuart's a talented writer and I think that you'll enjoy browsing his posts. (Check his archives, too, for short stories and poetry.)

Thanks for hosting me, Stu!

Answers to quiz from my "Quirks" Post:
  1. Says "fiddle dee dee" a lot and made a gown from curtains. Scarlett O'Hara
  2. “I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.”  Holden Caulfield
  3. Nemesis is a tiger named Shere Khan.  Best friend is a bear. Mowgli
  4. “I’m about as shapeless as the man in the moon!” His physical abnormality is part of the book title. Quasimoto (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
  5. Fierce female, world class hacker, has a tattoo which features in the book title. Lisbeth Salander
  6. "That's my spot!" (This one's a TV character.) Sheldon Cooper
  7. Corresponds with a personal assistant of "our father below" AKA Satan. Wormwood
 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quirks - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge


Wilkins Micawber from Dickens' David Copperfield."Something will turn up."

   Quirks make people, whether real or fictional, memorable.  (It might not always be in a good way;  I was traumatized in Junior High when I read about Humbert Humbert using his tongue to get an eyelash out of Lolita's eye.  It still gives me the creeps.)

   Dr. Ruth made waves in the 80s by frankly and openly discussing answering questions about sex, but I remember her most for her sense of humor - and the fact that she was a trained Israeli sniper and incredibly accurate at throwing hand grenades.

   If I had to choose a book in which just about every character is quirky, Joseph Heller's Catch-22 would be in the top 5. My favorite is Dunbar, who is busy extending his lifespan by using boredom to slow time.  I think of him often, as the minutes crawl by during meetings and certain social events.  

   Whether it's a physical trait, a catchphrase, a particular like/dislike or an unusual outlook on life (comic or otherwise), find a way to make your character memorable.

Can you identify these characters?

  1. Says "fiddle dee dee" a lot and made a gown from curtains.
  2. “I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.”  
  3. Nemesis is a tiger named Shere Khan.  Best friend is a bear.
  4. “I’m about as shapeless as the man in the moon!” His physical abnormality is part of the book title.
  5. Fierce female, world class hacker, has a tattoo which features in the book title.
  6. "That's my spot!" (This one's a TV character.)
  7. Corresponds with a personal assistant of "our father below" AKA Satan.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Hall_Freud_Jung_in_front_of_Clark.jpg
Carl Jung (front row, far right) and Sigmund Freud (front row far left)

The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI), designed by Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, is an assessment tool based on both Carl Jung's archetypes (see my entry for J) and Joseph Campbell's works on mythology (specifically The Hero With A Thousand Faces).

Carl Jung, one of the most influential founders of modern psychology, built on the concept of the archetype - a collectively inherited pattern of myths, legends, themes, characters, and symbols which make up our individual psyches and cultures.

Joesph Campbell theorized that ancient myths from around the world all contain basic elements of the Hero who sets out upon a Journey, survives danger, performs tasks, receives a gift or gifts (if he survives), then chooses whether to return or not and share those gifts, one of which is usually some sort of enlightenment.  (This is an extremely simplistic description, but I wish to keep these posts brief.)

The test consists of 72 questions with a choice of  five responses: 1 Strongly Disagree, 2 Disagree, 3 Neutral, 4 Agree, 5 Strongly Agree.

Scores are then totaled for each of the archetypes and scaled on a circular chart. The PMAI is designed to assess the type/strength of archetypes at a given moment of the test subject's life.

Unlike many other theories and assessments which assume that a person's core personality is somewhat fixed, the PMAI results may change over time since the subject is on a life journey and different archetypes may be stronger or "active" at different points of that journey.

PMAI archetypes  here

Questions to ask about your character using the PMAI:

  • What sort of life journey have you set for your character?
  • If you are concerned with only a portion of the character's life, which archetype is strongest during that period?  Which might have been strongest in the past?
  • How might your character's particular culture have influenced his archetype?
  • How does archetype influence how your character views the world and others around him?
  • Is your character aware of her particular archetype? (Is she an "orphan" type who recognizes and embraces the fact that she is a tough survivor, or does she subsume that type in favor of appearing more fragile and feminine?)
  • Everyone has "shadow" archetypes (scored lowest on the test).  These archetypes (if desired) can be nurtured and strengthened by an individual over time.  What might your character's shadow archetypes be?  Will those archetypes emerge as your story unfolds?  Or will your character remain essentially unchanged over his journey?
  Fun "P" fact: Phrenology involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual's psychological makeup. It was popular in the 1800s;  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had the heads of their children "read". Phrenologists ran their fingers over the skull searching for and recording bumps or indentations.  Measurements were also taken with calipers and tape measures.  Certain areas of the skull were thought to correspond directly with organs of the body as well as being indicative of personality traits and character. It has since be debunked.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Objects - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

File:Beaulieu National Motor Museum 18-09-2012 (8421085262).jpg
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by Karen Roe via Wikimedia Commons
         Objects can serve two purposes in fiction writing.  Certain objects can take on a life or character of their own.  Good examples include cars like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and KITT, Hal the Computer, Robbie the Robot, even the sword Excalibur and Tolkien's Ring.

         Inanimate things are primarily used to create the world that your characters live in;  they tell us about everything from setting (town, countryside, planet) and culture to weather and time period.  Objects also provide clues about your character's life, personality, desires and motives. Financial circumstances, family history, educational level, personal habits, likes and dislikes - the list goes on and on. 

       Read the following excerpt and determine what the author is trying to convey by the setting:

     "It was a room of diligently austere splendor. The only furniture was the low marble table and our nine cushions evenly arranged around the carpet.  The only decoration was a framed black and gold-leaf depiction of the Kaaba at Mecca."  from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

     What does the above description tell us about possible locations, and who the occupants of the room might be?

     How characters use, view and respond to objects can reveal a lot.

  •      Characters can use objects to project a desired image of themselves. (Designer clothes, vehicle, artwork.)
  •      Characters can use objects to transform themselves. (Magical cloak, body modification, costume.)
  •      Characters can form unhealthy attachments to objects.  (Hoarding, need to carry talisman, Tolkien's Ring.)
  •      Characters can form emotional connections with objects.  (Treasured photo, Grandma's teacup, toy from childhood.)
  •      Characters can value objects/material things over people.  (Dad cannot move in with me because he's a slob and will ruin the furniture. I resent you because you got a bigger slice of the inheritance. I would rather die than let you have this {object}.)   
Questions to ask yourself:
  • How do my characters use objects to project themselves?
  • How do my characters use objects to transform themselves?
  • Did I use plenty of objects to "show not tell" things about the characters in my story?



         

Names - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

He's too interesting to have a name.

     You'll find hundreds (if not thousands) of articles and tips on naming your characters.  Methods range from using the phone book and obituaries to searching family trees and historical texts. The internet has brought us random generators, some of which I've linked at the end of this post.

     Naming your characters can be as intimate a process as naming your offspring.  What you choose to call your character may reflect different things: personality, lineage/origin, occupation.  A nickname can also be used to convey physical characteristics (Twiggy, Lefty, Rabbit), demeanor (Bull, Twitchy), or current/past occupation (Sarge, Gopher, Hack). 

     There are some basic "rules", but I only stick to one of them:  make sure that the names fit the time period.  I see everything else as fair game. If I'm writing a flash and I want the reader to pay more attention to the storyline than the character, I may choose a bland name like "Joe".  A name/nickname may or may not reflect the character; for example, "Thorny" (shortened from Thornton) is not prickly by nature.  Among my stacks of notebooks is one which is used to note names which I like, culled from real life, the police log, you name it.  I'll mix and match first and last names until I come up with something that "clicks".  

     On rare occasions, a character will present himself to me with his name already chosen.  I have no idea how that happens, but I always stick with it.  

     We also have to consider settings and locations.  One writing source advised me to "use realistic place names"That entails checking thoroughly to make sure that your fictional town/school/business name is not already in use.  Rocky Mount**n High School might not appreciate being used as the setting for a violent crime.   Zangori's Pizza might take offense at being tied to a drug ring.  (There's also a business name generator at the end of this post.)   I'll often create a place name that can be transformed by the inhabitants into something humorous.  Norgood Hollow became "No God Hollow", and Butte Pass became "Butt Crack".  And, by the way, real towns include Pity Me, Cheesequake, Bug Tussle and Humptulip. It seems as though you can put any two words together and you've got a place name.

    
 Fun facts:
  • Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs is the full name of the Wizard of Oz.
  • The character of Snow White may have been inspired by a real woman named Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina Freifräulein Von Erthal
  • New Zealand and Sweden have banned certain names for people including Lucifer (NZ) and Superman (Sweden).  (I guess you can still call your pet whatever you want.)

Fun questions about characters' names:

  1. Does anyone know the real name of "The Man With the Yellow Hat" in the Curious George books?
  2. From Gilligan's Island:  What was the Professor's real name?
  3. What author created characters with names such as "Anne Chickenstalker", "Mr. Spottletoe", and "Mercy Pecksniff"?
  4. Can you recall at least one book where the protagonist is never named?

Random name generators:
Behind the name
List of random names
Place name generator
Company name generator 
Country/nation name generator 



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge



     File:CognitiveFunctions.png
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment explores preferences, decision-making and how subjects view the world.  Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers formulated the test and based it on Jung's idea of 4 psychological functions (ways we interpret the world):  feeling, thinking, intuition and sensation.  Jung divided the 4 into cognitive function teams:  rational (thinking/feeling) and irrational (intuition /sensation).  Rational (thinking/feeling) is a judging function, while irrational (intuitions/sensation) is a perceiving function.

The functions are expressed by an individual in either an introverted or extroverted manner.

Therefore 16 possible combinations exist; each of us has one which is our preferred way of making decisions and perceiving the world.  The combinations are expressed by using letters to denote the functions and teams. (Intuition is represented by the letter N so as not to be confused with introverted (I).

Example:  Someone who is INFP primarily relies on introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F) and perception (P)
Some of the INFP characteristics include:
  •          devote more time and energy to the inner world 
  •          feel deeply 
  •          are loyal and ethical
  •          see things and actions from an idealistic perspective 
  •          may often withdraw and seem "lost in thought"
  •          creative, innovative and curious
This post is a very brief and simplistic overview.  For a much better explanation, check out this LINK

The Myers-Briggs is a lengthy questionnaire administered and interpreted by professionals.  If you want a feel for the assessment, there is a free online questionnaire which is supposed to be similar to (but definitely IS NOT) the Myers-Briggs.  I'll give you the link, but pay attention:  the test is free, and the personal results are free, but for a "business" it says "free trial" so don't get suckered into buying something you don't want...

Jung Typology Test

Adjectives for the day:  multipotent, morne, morigerous, mirific, mesquin

Monday, April 14, 2014

Life Change Units - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

      The Life Change Index scale ("stress test") assigns number values to events which have a stressful impact on our lives.  Even "neutral or positive" events can cause a stress - an interview which you are fully prepared for may still cause anxiety, a sports award may bring added performance pressure.

      Impact scores range from low (11 is a minor law infraction) to 100 (death of a spouse, rated the most stressful event of all).  Studies find a direct correlation between a high unit score and illness.

     Events which are high on the list serve as chapter headings for our lives.  Our memories formulate "flashbulb" files for these moments:  what we were doing when that fateful phone call came in, what we were wearing when we wrecked the car, the poster on the wall in the exam room when the doctor came in with bad news.  We may also experience dramatic personality changes that occur as a result of these events. The shifts may be temporary, or lasting. The caregiver who spent years patiently tending a relative may deliberately avoid any sort of health setting in future, neglecting their own health. Or they may become angry and bitter. Someone betrayed by a friend may become secretive and untrusting. Perhaps the loss of something or someone dear produces an epiphany in an individual about what really matters in life.

Some things to think about:

List some stressful events in your character's life.  Even if they are never discussed in the story, you should have an idea of those defining "chapter headings" and how they affected your character.

Have you overloaded your character?  If they've lost a parent, a brother, a dog, a job and a significant other in the past year or two, your character should be barely functioning. Be realistic in your portrayals.And remember that too much can be...well, too much.

Look at the time period/setting for your story.  What historical events are happening/have happened, and how would they affect your character?  (War, death of a political figure, poor economy, hurricane, etc.)  These events can be terribly stressful as well.

Thanks for stopping by - almost halfway through the challenge!

Adjectives for the day:  lissome, largiloquent, latitant, lubricious, louche, luculent




    

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Sermon - Sort Of: You're Not the Boss Of Me

Hi everyone!  The A to Z Challenge seems to be going really well!  I've learned a lot, found some great blogs, and have managed to visit at least 5-10 blogs per day.

As a bonus read today - totally unrelated to my theme - here's an essay I wrote over at the ReadWave site.

What shall I wear to my funeral?  What will the neighbors say?  Why do we care so much about what other people think - and how does it sap the joy from our lives?

 Click here to read "You're Not the Boss Of Me"

Thank you for stopping by today! A to Z posts will resume Monday, April 14 at 10AM, EST with the letter L.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kingdomality - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge



                                          (Your reward for visiting me here today:  Monty Python -
                                          The Black Knight (Just A Flesh Wound) 
  

      For lovers of all things Medieval - here's the vocational assessment system for you!  Created in 1990 by Richard Silvano, Kingdomality is based on the theory that everyone has a Medieval vocational personality. He posits that it is no accident that long ago certain types of people gravitated to certain professions.  (I would argue that birth order and lineage had much more to do with who ended up in which profession, but I'm not an expert.) Silvano believes that identifying and understanding one's Medieval personality can be a key to success in today's job market.

     There are twelve Kindomality characters. The assessment information is all copyrighted so I'll just list the "types" and two or three words of description from  Wikipedia  .

Bishop - orderly, imaginative, short-sighted
Benevolent Ruler - idealistic, charismatic, manipulative
Shepherd - vigilant, dependable, rigid
Black Knight - strategist, efficient, arrogant
Scientist - data-driven, perceptive, narrow-minded
Discoverer - adventurous, open-minded, impractical
Merchant - competitive, realistic, unmerciful
Prime Minister - decision-maker, risk-taker, impetuous
Engineer/Builder - practical, pragmatic, dogmatic
Dreamer/Minstrel - optimistic, spontaneous, sentimental
White Knight - merciful, heroic, impulsive
Doctor - consistent, rational, sensory-driven

Which type is your character? Which type are you? For more info, visit Kindomality.com

Adjectives for the day:  kerasine, kitthoge, kempt, kinetic



Friday, April 11, 2014

Jung's Archetypes - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge


 

 "Not for a moment dare we succumb to the illusion that an archetype can be finally explained and disposed of. Even the best attempts at explanation are only more or less successful translations into another metaphorical language. (Indeed, language itself is only an image.) The most we can do is dream the myth onwards and give it a modern dress. And whatever explanation or interpretation does to it, we do to our own souls as well, with corresponding results for our own well-being. The archetype — let us never forget this — is a psychic organ present in all of us." 
                                                        The Archetype as a Link with the Past ' Carl Jung, Collected Works

 Carl Jung developed the concept of character archetypes as models of people, behaviors or personalities. Jung theorized that the psyche is composed of three parts: the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.

Archetypes come from the realm of the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is a sort of psychic pool which is common to all humanity;  we draw from this pool, for example, when we create elements of our culture such as artwork, religious symbols, or folk tales. Since archetypes are from the unconscious, they can only be recognized by examining (by others, or thru thorough self-analysis) their manifestations thru behavior, art, myths, religions, or dreams.

Those archetypes that form the main structure of each individual's psyche are the self, the persona, the shadow, anima/animus, and the ego.

  • Self is the union of conscious and unconscious in an individual.
  • Persona (mask) is how we present ourselves in various situations and to various people.
  • Shadow is the "dark side", the unconscious and often repressed drives, desires and instincts.
  • Anima/Animus is the representation of the opposite gender in our subconscious. Our experiences with the other sex (parent, sibling, lover) get filed here as well.
  • Ego is the "I", our representation of ourselves (which may or may not be how others perceive us).

 Archetypes come into play in other forms as well.

  • Figures include great mother, father, wise old man/woman, devil, god, hero, trickster.
  • Events include birth, death, marriage, separation
  • Motifs include creation, deluge, "deal with the devil", apocalypse
  • Nature includes fire, ocean, river, mountain
  • Themes include quest, journey, initiation, fall
  • Symbols include mandala, animals (fish, owl), astronomical objects (moon, sun)

Take each of your characters and describe the 5 main structure archetypes for him/her. Pay particular attention to the shadow and the anima/animus.  What is driving them?  What are they repressing? How have their past relationships with the opposite sex (even if it has no bearing on the plot) affected their psyche?

Have you used any common symbols to give depth to your story?  Is the main character particularly drawn to water, have a friend who is a "trickster", use a symbol which means something in particular? A star tattoo, a religious symbol on a wall, a particular color?  What is the underlying archetypal theme in your story?

Further reading:

Jungian Outline, Clifton Snyder

Carl Jung Wikipedia

Holy Grail Of the Unconscious (NY Times)

Adjectives for the day:  jactancy, jannock, jejune, jocose,
    

    

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Interaction Styles - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge


      Interactive behavior style refers to our "outer" observable behavior patterns when dealing with others as opposed to our "inner" state of emotions, desires and conflicts.  The Greek physician Hippocrates divided  temperament into four categories which roughly corresponded to the four humors (body fluids) and the four elements (air, fire, earth, water) which were thought to influence health and well-being. He referred to these temperaments as melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric.

     Linda V. Berens in Understanding Yourself and Others:  An Introduction To Interaction Styles 2.0 also suggests that there are four innate styles/patterns of behavior which determine how we interact with each other. She refers to them as Chart-the-Course, Behind-the-Scenes, In-Charge and Get-Things-Going.  (These terms are apparently copyrighted, as is most of the information I've found, so there's a link at the end of the post if you'd like more information about Berens and the four interactive styles.)

     Your character's interactive style can help you to determine how he will respond in certain situations.

  • How will he react to relationship difficulties? (Attack, defend, give in, ignore/hope it blows over?)
  • What's his prime motivator when it comes to interacting with others? (Approval, power, respect, fitting in?)
  • How will he react in a crisis? (Take control, rely on others, solve with group, persuade others to his plan)


 Berens Interactive Styles - Synopsis


Engage Your Strengths Quiz

Adjectives for the day:  indigent, icterine, ignivomous, immarcescible, improvident, inchoate, infandous


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hobbies - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge


Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier and Don Rickles, Kraft Music Hall, 1968. Souce: Wikimedia Commons
   Giving your character a hobby can serve several purposes.  It can serve to reinforce a particular personality type - an aggressive risk taker may race cars or skydive on the side.  Conversely, a hobby which seems incongruous might make a character far more memorable.  Anyone old enough to remember Rosey Grier?  He was an American football player who then served as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy in 1968.  He was guarding Ethel Kennedy when the assassination took place and subdued the killer, Sirhan Sirhan.  Grier released many singles as a singer and also authored books on needlepoint.  Needlepoint? Yep. And macrame.  Not the sort of interests you might expect from a 6'5" former member of the 1968 LA Rams "Fearsome Foursome" starting defensive line.  I was born in the 60s, so I don't clearly remember any of the events in his life firsthand.  Yet I did remember the name Rosey Grier and the fact that his hobby was cross-stitch - it made a strong enough impression for me to recall him 40 years later, while writing this post.

    A hobby can provide alternate settings and a host of other characters with which your MC may interact.  Hobbies range from the well-known (bird watching) to the slightly odd (extreme competitive ironing of clothes).  An intriguing and little-known interest could also provide you with an entire subplot and/or act as an aid in bulking up your word count. Who knows - doing a little research on hobbies might provide you with an idea for your next novel!

Bonus: Which Hobby is best suited to your personality? Click here

Adjectives for the day: habile, henotic, hircine, hoary, honorificabilitudinity (!), horrisonant, hyaline