Historical Post by Gail Gaymer Martin

Build a 3-Dimensional Hero Using Core Personalities – Part II

In Part 1, I explained Core Personalities and gave you the basic information needed to use these personalities to create fictional heroes and heroines. Today I will go more deeply into the subject of Core Personalities by adding more of the techniques novelists use to create characters.

After digesting the personalities of the four core types from Terrance Real’s book How Can I Get Through To You, you can see the opportunities to build some interesting characters and create dynamic conflicts. Consider plotting a thriller where two elitists are on opposing forces or plotting a romance with the one character being a feeler and the other an analyzer. Put two drivers together in a story built around a family dynasty. Conflict is brewing in any of those scenarios.

To add to the total character, you will take the basic core personality and add a past that will help the reader understand why one person is driven, why another lives with self-importance, and another can find a positive in the most negative situation. You are a mix of genetics and experience, and to help readers believe in your characters and find them compelling, you must develop them just as you have become who you are. Remember that your past (backstory) is made up of a multitude of elements: upbringing, family discipline, education, religious attitudes, health issues, birth order, family dysfunctions, successes and failures, location (south/west/north/east or rural/urban), and income.

As you build these core personalities, begin thinking how these characters will dress, their language and diction, their manner of responding and reacting to situations. You can see that each will be different.

The feeler will speak in a more flowing language using animation. The language could be more poetic, using alliteration and similes. He will emphasize the good, and avoid talking about the bad. A woman might dress more colorfully, with gussy jewelry and more ruffles. A man might take more chances in trying something new, fads or something outside the box.

The driver will speak in shorter, emphatic sentences. He doesn’t waste time. He wants to get to the nitty gritty of the topic. No flowery language for him. He is organized in both his speaking and in his apparel. He dresses for the situation, but clothes aren’t his concern. He focuses on getting things done and accomplishing his goal.

The analyzer will be thoughtful in his speech and will not waste words. He won’t speak until he’s thought the situation through, and come up with the best response. He will ask questions, dig deeper, and not be afraid to pry. He expects answers. He will dress conservatively. He wears basic appropriate clothing for the occasion and doesn’t take chances in style. He prefers tradition.

The elitist will use a large vocabulary and good grammar. He’ll speak clearly and decisively as if what he says is truth whether it is or not. He will stand back and observe rather than jump into a mundane conversation. He could be a name dropper both in style of clothing, and in who he knows. His apparel will be influenced by the situation. At a black tie dinner he will wear a designer tuxedo, but he’s not afraid to be his own person and make others think it is appropriate. They will sometimes follow his lead, thinking if he can do it maybe it’s the best way to dress. No matter what he wears, he will stand out in the crowd.

As you weigh these characters and their interactions, notice how conflicts can easily arise depending on their roles in your novel. Don’t always make the boss the elitist. An employee could outshine the owner and bully him, if he’s not confident in his role. You set the scenario. Although we often think of women as the feeler, try this attribute on a man. Don’t make him effeminate, but make him care and show he does. By working with core personalities, you can create some unexpected characters with compelling conflicts.

And finally remember that your characters will change from the beginning of the novel to the end. When two elitists battle face to face, it will cause one to change. Perhaps he realizes that his elitism is only a cover for what he thought he lacked in his past, and he walks away from the battle feeling he is a winner. The driver who falls in love with a feeler can learn that he’s destroying his chances for happiness by thinking success in his business is the most important thing in his life. He learns that loving and being loved is the ultimate happiness.

With these techniques, you will create dynamic believable characters!

 

 

 

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Historical Post by Gail Gaymer Martin

Build a 3-D Hero Using Core Personalities – Part 1

Today I will talk about using Core Personalities to help create a novel’s hero or main male character. This information can also be used for females, but since most popular authors are females, especially those who write romance which is the largest selling genre, we need to put our feet into a man’s shoes.

Whether you write suspense, romance, or adventure, any genre needs 3-D characters. Author Mark Mynheir presented a workshop once on characterization and suggested the use of the Myers Briggs personality test to help create dynamic characters by using the basic core personalities and then wrapping a backstory history around him. Here is a site where you can check out the basic eight personality types used in the Myers Briggs test.   http://www.personalitypage.com/html/info.html

But let’s begin by looking a four core personalities from Terrance Real’s book How Can I Get Through To You. He suggests in his book that people have four personalities: Feeler, Driver, Analyzer, and Elitist. Now we can take the eight personalities of Myers Briggs and find these personalities there as well, but for writing, these four will provide a good basis.

Feeler:
The feeler is a person who reacts and interacts through emotion and comes across as warm and friendly. He avoids confrontation and always tries to put the most positive twist on every situation. He prefers intimate groups rather than a crowd and rarely initiates conversation, especially with strangers. When in a larger group, he becomes more reticent and only expresses opinions that are non-aggressive. His emotions are often on his sleeve. His body language can be emotive. Think Oprah.

Driver:
The driver tends to be a Type A personality who is perceptive and therefore likes to control the situation. He is curious and enthusiastic while tending to pick up on the mood and style of the group he is in. He is verbal and quick-minded. His body action is animated. Some people might considered him overly-friendly, but he is naturally gregarious. He would be considered a non-conformist, willing to take chances if he sees the possibility of positive results. Think Bill O’Reilly.

Analyzer:
The analyzer is organized, logical, and stoic. He is careful in what he says, controlling himself mentally, physically and verbally. Though he is pleasant, he keeps his distance and appears to need no one besides himself. Emotions are not for the analyzer, but intellect is. He is very self-confident and is not at ease in lighthearted or frivolous situations. Think Barbara Walters and Martha Stewart.

Elitist:
The elitist is aloof and feels superior. Although he appears friendly, he has a strong sense of his own importance. He observes his surroundings yet is detached from the situation. He can be charismatic and easily stands out in a crowd by his bearing and manner. Think Simon Cowell and Hannibal Lector.

Think about how this information might be used in your novel to build a 3-D hero using core personalities. Part II will add some layers to the core and pose some thoughts on how to use the core personalities to create great conflict.

 

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Maureen Pratt PictureHello! Maureen Pratt here with another blog post about the craft of writing.

I’m typing this just before I leave to see one of the “blockbuster” movies coming out during this holiday season. Many films are timed to open during the next couple of months so that they can be eligible for award consideration, so the selection these days is varied and abundant.

Anticipating seeing “Lincoln,” (my movie of choice today), I thought I’d talk today about fiction writing and a very specific way of filtering that “movie in the mind” to better hone story telling and characterization.

The concept of translating the “movie in the mind” to a novel, novella, or shorter story is a powerful one. Movies are by their nature action-packed, and when told on the big screen, they take on an epic quality even if the story involves only two characters. Sweeping scenes, broad emotions, and long passages are the things that hook us into sitting and watching – or sitting and writing. But forever lengthy storytelling can become unwieldy and dilute the impact of a very worthy tale.

This is where the “secret weapon” of moviemakers comes in, and where we can glean some very worthwhile food for thought and action. After a scene has been shot and a movie “in the can,” comes the shirt-sleeves-rolled up work, the place where the story truly gets told: The editing room.

I’m not talking about rewriting in this context, that is, I’m not addressing the need to rework scenes, characters, plot points, or even changing the setting of a work. The editing to which I refer is more about establishing the pacing, featuring (however briefly) the small details that illustrate big points, and sculpting the work as it stands so that it can be three-dimensional, even if the words physically lie flat on the page.

Editing in this sense is carried out by watching the movie, and then coming in close on specific points that tell a bigger tale. For example, perhaps you like the initial description of your heroine. She’s petite, brunette, blue-eyed. Now, “movie-edit” and look at several possible “shots” that you can use to more precisely and uniquely describe her. Is one shoulder slightly lower than the other, perhaps indicating she’s carried a heavy load (a briefcase?) a long way for a long time? Is there even lighter hair coming in at her roots, indicating a transition from brunette to arriving middle age? Even if she appears calm at the start, does she have a characteristic fidgeting habit with her fingers indicating some tension underneath? As with picking which shots to use in a movie, in a book, pick out helpful details and use them in description, too.

Cinematic editing is also important when deciding where a scene begins and ends. We’ve all had the experience of not knowing, for example, how to close out a critical scene, with the result that the conversation or action becomes diluted from too much indecision. A masterful editor knows exactly when to “cut,” often timing down to a second. This takes practice. A useful exercise is to take a scene that you feel is too long and cut it a few times at different points. How does each cut affect the flow? Tension? Impact? Practice makes perfect!

In movie editing, many aspects of the work come into play, and the same is true for a book. For example, movie editors are conscious of where music comes in and how it builds a scene. Think about this next time you’re going over your work. What music do you hear and when; that is, what background do you have in your scene that fleshes out either the characters or the setting? Also, how is the continuity from one scene to another? Are you sure that your hero remains brown eyed throughout, or that the local bakery is just that and doesn’t transform to a bookshop halfway through the book?

As you watch movies this holiday season and beyond, notice the editing – where cuts are made, which shots are used (where the focus is placed), and how music and other background elements play in telling the story as a whole. Then see which of these tools might help you go beyond the movie in your mind and arrive at a work that is multidimensional, compelling, and true!

Blessings to you!

Maureen

www.maureenpratt.com

http://blog.beliefnet.com/gooddaysbaddays/

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Bigger smile - close up 4th of July 2012

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com

I look forward to dropping by to share a new post with you about writing Christian fiction. I’ve been blessed for the past twelve years with an amazing career – second career actually, and I’ve learned so much on this journey.

One thing to know is that learning never ends. I read magazines and books on writing, continual improving my craft and loving every moment.

I’ve been sharing thoughts on Intimate Storytelling which means bring the main characters to life in a dynamic way that they seem real. Today I will show you how you can reveal characterization in a rather different way.

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Gail Gaymer MartinIt's Friday and I know you're looking forward to the weekend.  Most of us are, but a wirter often writes seven days a week with a few hours squeezed in for family, church, exercise and eating.

But it's always nice to share some thoughts with you about wrting techniques that makes our books the best they can be. Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin www.gailmartin.com

Part I covered some of the elements of staying in a POV character’s viewpoint, but intimate storytelling needs more than a character’s viewpoint. The reader needs to feel the story through the character’s impressions and experience. This is done by bringing the senses to life.

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