PSYCHOLOGY OF CREATING CHARACTERS
© Laurie Schnebly Campbell

One of the most requested tapes from the RWA National Conference was Laurie's workshop on "The Psychology of Creating Characters." You can order the tape (called Romance Writers 98 Audio 3-10) from Bill Stephens Productions at 800/322-4422 ($12.99 includes priority mail) and get the handouts right here.

HANDOUT #1: WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?

Answer the questions as:
1 ­ RARELY, 2 ­ SOMETIMES, 3 ­ FREQUENTLY

___ 1. Wasting time bothers me.
___ 2. I'd rather live in modern times with all today's conveniences than in olden times with all the hardships of the past.
___ 3. If it seems like someone will be unhappy about it, I tend not to say what I think or feel.
___ 4. I keep my things well organized.
___ 5. I have several projects in the works at the same time.
___ 6. Regardless of utility costs, I do whatever it takes to stay warm in winter and cool in summer.
___ 7. When people are thoughtless or inconsiderate, my feelings are hurt.
___ 8. I dislike the idea of going under hypnosis.
___ 9. No matter how good a job I've done, I always try to improve on my past performance.
___ 10. When I'm suffering from any kind of physical discomfort, I'm glad to have the recommended medication to relieve it.
___ 11. If people are arguing about something, I try to make peace between them.
___ 12. Even though I might follow a timetable at work, I dislike having to go along with a schedule designed by someone else.
___ 13. I'm aware of how much I accomplish compared to other people.
___ 14. I'd rather spend money now on the things I enjoy than accumulate savings for sometime down the road.
___ 15. People tend to take advantage of my good nature.
___ 16. I'd prefer not to be surprised by things like company arriving at a moment's notice or a change in the usual routine.
___ 17. I like to be very well groomed and look as neat as possible.
___ 18. I don't especially enjoy camping in the wilderness because of the lack of "creature comforts."
___ 19. Sometimes people view me as naive for trusting others too easily.
___ 20. I don't like to follow rules made by other people.
___ 21. I don't like it when my co-workers or friends or family make mistakes.
___ 22. I dislike temperature extremes and am sensitive to unusually hot or cold weather.
___ 23. I have a hard time dealing with it when somebody doesn't like me.
___ 24. When therešs a heated debate going on, I like to get in the last word.
___ 25. I'm proud of knowing quite a bit about some subjects.
___ 26. When it comes to working on a committee, I'd prefer to be a member rather than the leader.
___ 27. I go out of my way to keep from hurting people's feelings.
___ 28. I like to have events work with smooth precision.

Add up your scores horizontally (1 + 5 + 9 etc.) to get your total for each priority.

1. ___ 5. ___ 9. ___ 13. ___ 17. ___ 21. ___ 25. ___ = ___ EXCELLENCE
2. ___ 6. ___ 10 ___ 14. ___ 18. ___ 22. ___ 26. ___ = ___ COMFORT
3. ___ 7. ___ 11. ___ 15. ___ 19. ___ 23. ___ 27. ___ = ___ PLEASING
4. ___ 8. ___ 12. ___ 16. ___ 20. ___ 24. ___ 28. ___ = ___ CONTROL

If your priority is EXCELLENCE, you most want to avoid wasting time, feeling worthless or insignificant. What you sacrifice is feeling stressed, overwhelmed with work. The advantages are superior skills, performance, innovation.

If your priority is COMFORT, you most want to avoid anxiety, strain, pressure. What you sacrifice is that you're less efficient, productive, capable. The advantages are that you're relaxing, easy to be with, comfortable.

If your priority is PLEASING, you most want to avoid friction, disharmony, being rejected. What you sacrifice is recognition of personal worth. The advantages are that you're gracious, tactful, diplomatic.

If your priority is CONTROL, you most want to avoid taking risks, looking wrong, embarrassment. What you sacrifice is spontaneity, emotional intimacy. The advantages are that you're a good leader, manager, organizer.



PSYCHOLOGY OF CREATING CHARACTERS
© Laurie Schnebly Campbell

HANDOUT #2: WHAT'S YOUR ENNEAGRAM TYPE?

Check any questions you'd answer "yes."

__ Do you like being well organized?
__ Do you generally keep your word?
__ Do you feel irritated when people break rules?
__ Do you sometimes think of yourself as judgmental?
__ Do you have a strong inner sense of "the right way" to do things?
__ Are you almost always punctual?
__ Is perfection important to you?
__ Do you worry about being judged or criticized?
__ Do you find it hard to forgive when someone has wronged you?
__ Do you often do more than your fair share?
__ TOTAL FOR ONE

__ Do you like to be needed?
__ Do you try hard to be thoughtful and tactful?
__ Do you enjoy giving people compliments?
__ Do you sometimes resent doing so much for so many people?
__ Would you rather give than receive?
__ Do people find you enthusiastic and upbeat?
__ Do people seek you out to talk about their problems?
__ Do most people like you?
__ Do you enjoy helping others become more successful?
__ Do you often feel taken for granted?
__ TOTAL FOR TWO

__ Is achievement important to you?
__ Are you confident about your abilities and skills?
__ Are you a good sales person?
__ Are you outgoing and popular?
__ Do you work hard at accomplishing goals?
__ Is image important to you?
__ Are you usually busy?
__ Do you hate to see jobs left undone?
__ Do you value making a good first impression?
__ Do you like to stand out in some way?
__ TOTAL FOR THREE

__ Do you frequently feel that nobody understands you?
__ Do you sometimes wonder when youšll find your one great love?
__ Are you exceptionally sensitive to critical remarks?
__ Do you find yourself envying what others have?
__ Is it important to you to feel that you fit in?
__ Do you sometimes find yourself drawn to melancholy thoughts?
__ Do you think you have deeper feelings than the average person?
__ Are you troubled by fears of abandonment?
__ Do you hunger for the perfect soul mate?
__ Do you sometimes feel like an outsider, even with your friends?
__ TOTAL FOR FOUR

__ Are you happier by yourself than in a group?
__ Do you often feel shy or ill at ease in a social situation?
__ Do you dislike confrontations?
__ Is privacy something you value strongly?
__ Do you keep your feelings to yourself?
__ Do you ever feel that you should be more generous?
__ Do you view yourself as perceptive?
__ Is self-reliance important to you?
__ Do you prefer reading about an experience to actually doing it?
__ Do you like to be alone with your interests for hours on end?
__ TOTAL FOR FIVE

__ Do you stick up for the underdog?
__ Do you tend to focus on worst-case scenarios?
__ Are you more aware of your surroundings than others are?
__ Do you find it hard to trust?
__ Is it often hard for you to make a decision?
__ Do you generally take a cautious approach to life?
__ Do people often say you're a good worker?
__ Are you wary of compliments?
__ Do you tend to be stubborn?
__ Is loyalty very important to you?
__ TOTAL FOR SIX

__ Do you like change?
__ Are you generally at ease in groups?
__ Do you try to avoid boredom at all costs?
__ Do you dream about living "the good life?"
__ Are you upbeat and enthusiastic?
__ Do you like to make lots of plans?
__ Are you frequently frustrated by rules and limitations?
__ Do you seek out new and exciting experiences?
__ Are you sometimes overly self-indulgent?
__ Do you believe that if something is good, more is better?
__ TOTAL FOR SEVEN

__ Do you feel you can handle conflict easily?
__ Do you respect assertive people?
__ Are you more a leader than a follower?
__ Do people describe you as earthy, blunt and straightforward?
__ Is pretense disturbing to you?
__ Is it easy for you to get in touch with your anger?
__ Do you believe in fighting for what is right?
__ Would you rather be respected than liked?
__ Do people think of you as courageous?
__ Do you find it easy to assert yourself?
__ TOTAL FOR EIGHT

__ Do you figure most things in life aren't worth getting upset about?
__ Are you generally relaxed and comfortable?
__ Is it hard for you to make choices?
__ Do people see you as affable, easygoing and peace-loving?
__ Do you tend to procrastinate?
__ Is personal comfort important to you?
__ Do other peoplešs confrontations make you uncomfortable?
__ Are you fairly attached to your habits and schedules?
__ Do you generally feel at one with nature and other people?
__ Are you good at promoting harmony and unity?
__ TOTAL FOR NINE

For a description of your type, see next page.



PSYCHOLOGY OF CREATING CHARACTERS
© Laurie Schnebly Campbell

HANDOUT #3: THE NINE ENNEAGRAM TYPES

ONE (THE PERFECTIONIST, REFORMER, IMPROVER) is a perfectionist who wants to set things right. Their internal critic tells them what they "should" be doing. They're more task-oriented than people-oriented. Ones avoid anger and have a sense of what is morally best in all circumstances. Theyšre responsible, hard-working, demanding of themselves and others, and find it hard to relax and go with the flow. Ones are comfortable with schedules and don't like interruptions. They insist on fairness, work hard at correcting faults and are almost always sincere, honest, scrupulous and just. Ones see things in terms of black and white, right and wrong. They're responsible, hard working, and good at planning.

TWO (THE HELPER, NURTURER, CARETAKER) is compassionate, kindhearted, caring, loving and nurturing. They want to be needed and appreciated, and can neglect their own needs to the point of exhaustion. They believe in helping others and give freely but have a hard time receiving. Twos feel guilty about saying no. They value personal, one-on-one relationships. They're empathetic, good listeners, helpful, friendly and open. Twos like to feel important to others, and frequently value themselves mainly for how they can help. They often don't recognize their own needs, focusing instead on others' needs, and sometimes feel victimized or used when others don't appreciate all they've done.

THREE (THE ACHIEVER, SUCCEEDER, PERFORMER) is self-assured, ambitious, charming and popular. They are concerned about how people perceive them and conscious of their own image. Threes are good communicators and good at being objective; they focus on what works. They're competitive, impatient with inefficiency and can be lonely because they tend to be superficial in relationships. Three is energetic, vibrant and youthful, with a pleasing appearance, and is always on the go. They like clear goals and like to run their own show—often their profession constitutes their life. They're efficient go-getters who identify with work, fear failure and can adapt to whatever is necessary for success.

FOUR (THE ARTIST, ROMANTIC, INDIVIDUALIST) wants to feel unique and special, likes big dramatic emotions, and tends to be melancholy. They often feel like they don't fit in. Fours focus on feelings and write "scripts" for every situation, but find that life seldom measures up. Emotionally sensitive, they feel exempt from living like others do. They are often creative and artistic, with a keen sense of beauty and an original, distinct style. Fours enjoy being on stage, crave deep feelings and usually feel either very high or very low. They're compassionate, good listeners who understand the pain of being misunderstood or feeling abandoned. They try to avoid ordinariness, feeling reality is dull.

FIVE (THE OBSERVER, INVESTIGATOR, THINKER) values autonomy and privacy and prefers being anonymous on the edge of a group to being the center of attention. They tend to intellectualize, enjoy learning and knowing things, and find almost everything interesting. Observers who prefer non-involvement, they can live happily with their own projects and remain emotionally detached. Fives hate feeling controlled and keep their thoughts and feelings private, tending to hoard their time and personal self. Logical thinkers, they have modest needs and prefer books to people and small talk. They view themselves as wise and perceptive, able to understand and rise above almost anything.

SIX (THE LOYALIST, GUARDIAN, BELONGER) places great value on belonging. They look to others for authority, and prefer working within limits and schedules. They cherish traditions, structure, commI'ment and security. Compulsively responsible and often insecure, sixes are dutiful, obedient and hard workers. Sixes tend to be fearful and plagued by doubt, but are devoted to their group. Wholeheartedly dedicated and serious, they sometimes lack confidence in their own abilities and fear making the wrong decision but will gladly conform to the rules and work hard to direction. They're consistently loyal troopers, dependable, punctual, and faithful to their family and friends and authority.

SEVEN (THE ADVENTURER, ENTHUSIAST, PLANNER) loves to have fun, dislikes facing painful reality, and finds good in almost everything. They enjoy planning more than they actually carry out because they like to keep their options open. Sevens tend to overindulge in food, experiences and/or material goods, believing "the more the merrier." They're extroverted, charming, enthusiastic and always want more of the extraordinary. Optimistic, excited and hopeful, they prefer to be with other people and find very few things they can't enjoy. Sevens are young-looking, view themselves as playful and childlike, and try to avoid pain or sadness by planning lots of fun activities all at the same time.

EIGHT (THE LEADER, CONFRONTER, CHALLENGER) is gutsy, outgoing, assertive and strong. They like to take charge, manage and call the shots. Self-confident, natural leaders, they take the initiative to make things happen. They work well under pressure but can be harsh and demanding, know how to get things done and believe in vengeance and justice. Eights are powerful, aggressive commanders who believe that showing weakness or tenderness means a loss of power; thus they don't value introspection or self-analysis. They work hard and play hard, and stand up for justice. Eights are courageous self-starters who love a challenge, can mobilize others, and are good at fighting for what they want.

NINE (THE PEACEMAKER, ACCOMMODATOR, HARMONIZER) usually feels grounded, calm and serene. They like routine, enjoy having time to do nothing and frequently focus time on non-essentials (TV, cards, sports) to tune out conflict. They're easygoing, agreeable and good listeners who can identify with all opinions and therefore make good mediators. Self-effacing, they tend to value peace at any price and hope problems will go away. Nines are stable, unflappable and virtually shock-proof, not viewing anything as too important. They prefer to avoid tension and stress, downplay things and often procrastinate, hating to waste energy or feel unsettled. They like to keep old friends and enjoy the status quo.



PSYCHOLOGY OF CREATING CHARACTERS
© Laurie Schnebly Campbell

HANDOUT #4: WHAT'S YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE?

On each scale, mark where you'd fall between the two extremes.

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ E/I ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­

At a group event, I'd rather spend time with:
everyone I can meet.             just a few people one-to-one.

Given four hours of free time, I'd rather spend it:
at a party with my friends.             by myself at the library.

When running errands, my first choice would be to do them:
with company.             on my own.

On the E/I scale, you lean more toward
*E*XTROVERT             *I*NTROVERT

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ N/S ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­

In making a decision, I'd rather listen to:
my own hunches.             established facts.

I prefer to make up my mind according to:
what I imagine is possible.             what I actually see and hear.

When planning for the future, I value:
my impressions.             the results of past experience.

On the N/S scale, you lean more toward
I*N*TUITION             *S*ENSATION

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ T/F ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­

If I have to choose one or the other, I think the most important thing is:
justice for all.             being kind to individual people.

I listen more to:
my head.             my heart.

If people have a criticism of me, it's that I:
don't value emotions enough.             don't always think logically.

On the T/F scale, you lean more toward
*T*HINKING             *F*EELING

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ J/P ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­

While both are important, I place more value on:
work.             play.

I feel more satisfied at:
completing a project.             beginning a quest.

I'd rather:
keep my options open as long as possible.             get things settled at the first opportunity.

On the J/P scale, you lean more toward
*J*UDGING             *P*ERCEIVING

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­
See what combination of letters best represents you, then find your type.

SJ       about 40% of the world. SJs like to belong, be useful and serve the world. They believe in conservation, institutions, tradition and stability. They honor the past and uphold solid relationships.

SP       about 40% of the world. SPs value freedom, action, and the moment at hand. Theyšre impulsive, optimistic, charming and generous. Living mainly in the present, they form relationships easily.

NT       about 10% of the world. NTs value knowledge and competence. They like developing models and exploring ideas, and follow their own ethics. They look to the future and form relationships slowly.

NF       about 10% of the world. NFs focus on self-actualization and becoming the person they were meant to be. They work toward a vision of perfection, and place great value on intimate relationships.



Back to Article!

Copyright © 2003, Laurie Schnebly Campbell.
All rights reserved.