Monday, March 31, 2014

A Is For ACL (Adjective Check List) - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge



     The Gough Heilbrun Adjective Check List (ACL) is an assessment used to identify common psychological traits. It was developed by Harrison G. Gough and Alfred B. Heilbrun, Jr.  The list contains 300 adjectives such as confident, poised, and cautious. Assessment takers choose the adjectives that they think best describe themselves (or someone else). Any number may be selected from the list of adjectives. The 300 adjectives correlate to 24 scales. 15 of the scales assess needs or desires, while the other 9 scales assess "attributes, potentialities, and role characteristics". The ACL also measures, to some extent, creativity and intellect.
    Now, most of us can't afford to buy copies of the manual and tests. However, we are writers and it should be a simple matter to generate a list of 50 to 100 adjectives describing personality traits.  Choose one of your characters, sit down, and really think about it. Which traits would you select to describe him/her? More importantly, which would your character choose for himself? Is he an introvert masquerading as an extrovert (thereby annoying people by "trying too hard)?  Is your character self-aware, honest, have insight into his own strengths and weaknesses?  Or is he narcissistic, suffering from delusions of grandeur, or totally out of touch with how he appears to others?  Perhaps he carries an ideal vision of himself which doesn't translate into the real world.
     Try this exercise with a beta reader(s):  have them choose 5-10 adjectives which describe the main character.  How do they compare with the adjectives which you have chosen?  Is there overlap?  If not, why not?

    Just for fun, here are a few adjectives that you might not recognize.   :-)

favonian
acherontic
atrabilious
sclerotic
torpid
dysthymic
eupeptic
limerent
tendentious
pavonine
luculent
euphuistic

(BTW, if you are interested in purchasing the ACL, here is the LINK. )

26 comments:

  1. Hi Li! Just popped in to wish you well for the challenge. As I said, I'm still posting once a week. I didn't recognise any of those adjectives! Does that make me, an English teacher, dumb? Oh wow!

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    1. Hi Denise! Nope, not dumb. I searched high and low for unusual or little-used words. :-) Thanks for dropping by!

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  2. Wow, I love this and yes, I think as a writer having a ton of personality adjectives could really expand our characters descriptions to paint a better picture of the character. Really informative post!

    *~MAJK~*
    A-to-Z Challenge 2014
    Mighty Minion of Co-Host Nicole Ayers
    @Safireblade on Twitter
    http://www.safireblade.com/

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    1. Thanks MAJK, oh mighty minion. :-)

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  3. OK...only knew Torpid. Ah..words. Great start to the A to Z Li !!!

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    1. Thanks Stu. I expect you to look up each and every one and use it in a sentence. :-)

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  4. What an awesome idea! It's a good way to think of alternative words, too, so you don't keep using the same tired ones (guilty!). Welcome to the A to Z and I recognized only two of those!

    River Fairchild – A to Z Challenge, a Jeremy's Angels Co-Host Minion
    Seasoned With Words


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    1. Hi River! The minions are all out and about today! I think many of us resort to some of the same descriptions. I can't wait to work some of these into my writing!

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  5. wow fun words I have never heard of before..in fact I did not even know there was a whole list of adjectives. That would have been helpful when I was in school. Way to start off strong. Teresa visiting From the following sitesFangirl Next Door

    Stormy's Sidekick

    Quackin Over Disney Geek On!

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    1. Hello Teresa, I wasn't familiar with the Adjective Check List either. I've actually learned a lot putting together my A to Z posts - an added bonus! :-)

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  6. Okay there are some awesome new adjectives for me to look up on dictionary.com there!
    Great idea.

    Rhi
    http://scruffy-duck.net

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    1. Nice to meet you Rhi. Bonus points if you can use any 3 in a paragraph. :-)

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  7. As an introvert with occasional extroverted tendencies (and a relatively accurate view of myself, as far as I know), I'm looking forward to all you'll be exploring this month. This is a great start, especially your proposed test with beta readers. What a great way to compare your perception of your characters with your readers'.

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    1. Thank you Nate! On occasion I've found that a reader will be puzzled by a character's actions - I had a clear cut image of the character in my head but hadn't portrayed him with enough depth.

      I would have pegged you as an extrovert - interesting. :-)

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  8. I'm reaching for my dictionary. Words I've never even heard of before. Thanks for making me think and for the beta-reader suggestion!

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  9. to dictionary.com i go! awesome post. just had to follow you because of it. i am a geek for new words. more please!

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  10. Ellie: glad you liked it!

    Djinnia: welcome! I'll have to add some to future posts!

    Mary: thanks for stopping by, glad I stumped you!

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  11. Oh fun! Character building is one of my favorite parts of writing. Or possibly the favorite. I teach a workshop to storytellers on how to use gaming character sheets for character creation :)
    Cheers!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of Colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarian

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    1. Sounds like a great workshop. And I'm really enjoying your MopDog blog!

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  12. Great idea - I'll be passing this along to my clients. And now I want to buy the ACL!

    Happy A-to-Z-ing!
    Michelle - Modified Editing
    modifiededitingservices.com

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    1. The ACL was a little pricey for me. I haven't looked around to see if anyone has published a book of adjectives for writers. If not...maybe that's a future project for me! :-)

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    2. There are! Check out the Emotion Thesaurus and other books by the same writers. :)

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  13. Great idea. I should do this with my GF, since we know each other's characters quite intimately. :) Thanks for the post, and the list of fun words!

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan. "B is for Books" is my current post.

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  14. Oh wow, I don't know what any of those mean. This is a useful post, I'll definitely be trying that with my characters!

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  15. I think I've only heard of torpid. Hmmm

    This is really useful, thanks Li!

    anna @ Deeply Shallow

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