Saturday, February 9, 2019

Personality Typing Characters

I love personality typing main characters (and feel like maybe this is unique to me). I can't think of a more fun thing to do to really get in the head of a character! This is also something great if you tend to create cookie-cutter characters.

Using Anne Bogel's book Reading People as my model (which you should read if you are even remotely curious about personality), I'm going to show you how to use four personality breakdowns for your characters! Please realize that this is really just me paraphrasing her (and she's paraphrasing others).

~ Love Languages ~
This one is super simple for any character! Whether you're writing romance or not, knowing how your character feels appreciated and shows their appreciation to others is good info. Besides, different love languages is a great way to cause conflict. People don't feel and show love in the same way!

The five love languages are 
  1. words of affirmation (verbal praise and encouragement)
  2. quality time (singled-out attention)
  3. giving and receiving gifts (cards, a note, something just because)
  4. acts of service (voluntarily doing things for someone else's benefit)
  5. physical touch (touch when speaking, hugs)
These are all pretty self-explanatory. Typically, the one that makes you feel the most loved/appreciated is the one you're also going to use to express your love.

For a character, consider whether their go-to expression is words, time/attention, presents, serving, or touching. Don't forget that children have love languages too! It's important to tune in to other's love language and give them what they need, not just what you feel like giving ... if you want harmony. In a book, this is a great way to cause some misunderstandings and miscommunications. ;)

~ Keirsey's Temperaments ~
Breathe easy--there are only four of these, and it comes down to what you say and do. It's the simplest way to group personalities if you're into basic. These also revolutionized the way I approach Myers-Briggs! 

Artisans say what is and do what works. They make "playful mates, creative parents, and troubleshooting leaders." They're one of the most creative types who have to have excitement in their lives. (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP)

Guardians say what is and do what's right. They make "loyal mates, responsible parents, and steadying leaders." They're the most common type with good work ethic and logic. (ESTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESFJ)

Idealists say what could be and do what's right. They make "intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders." They're highly empathetic, like to find meaning in things, and think everyone is special. (ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP)

Rationals say what could be and do what works. They make "reasonable mates, individualizing parents, and strategic leaders. They're the rarest type and taken to be distant and calculating, but don't care about political correctness. (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP)

~ Myers-Briggs ~
Trust me, find your character's Keirsey temperament first. Then you'll only have to choose from four Myers-Briggs types instead of all sixteen!

The Myers-Briggs alphabet soup breaks down like this:
Extrovert OR Introvert
Sensing OR iNtuitive
Feeling OR Thinking
Perceiving OR Judging

Use this Pinterest picture to determine what those terms really mean. Once you have an alphabet soup combination, put the MBTI type into Pinterest to have endless "what this type does when ..." These are both fun and helpful!

If you want to type yourself, I suggest using the Myers-Briggs cognitive functions after this step to make sure you're 100% spot on! You could also take this full test. It pegged me correctly even when I thought otherwise. ;)

~ Enneagram ~
This is a newer-to-me personality type. It doesn't correspond to any of the others, but it's an easier way to break down personality types for some people, as there are only nine of them. Everyone has a primary type (say it's the number 3) and then a secondary or "wing" type. Statistically, the wing type is almost always a number next to your primary (in this case either 2 or 4).

Here's the breakdown of the Enneagram types according to Anne Bogel:
  1. Reformer (need to be perfect)
  2. Helper (need to be needed)
  3. Achiever (need to succeed)
  4. Individualist (need to be special)
  5. Investigator (need to perceive)
  6. Loyalist (need for security)
  7. Enthusiast (need to avoid pain)
  8. Challenger (need to be against)
  9. Peacemaker (need to avoid)
Despite the different names people give them, the concept is always the same! Knowing even just a character's primary type could help you map out their motivations. 

There are also pros and cons of each that can be explored more in-depth, as every type is linked to another number when stressed and yet another when growing. I've taken this quick test and recommend this website for more information.
What's your personality type?? Have you ever typed a character? Remember that these are potential tools to create variety, not to put characters or real people into stuffy little boxes. <3 div="">

((Just for fun, my love language is quality time, and I'm a Guardian which confirmed I'm an ISTJ. I've been told my enneagram is a 5 wing 6, but I also have a lot of 1.))

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Outlining for Those Who Hate It

There is continual debate on what sort of pre-writing methods are the best. Some people like to plot; some people avoid it at all costs. It really depends on the writer! Every now and then a writer is called upon to do something they despise for the sake of their story. So today we're going to look at some different ways to make outlining less painful for the pantsers among us.

I'll be honest--I like to think of myself as a plotter. But I'm really half and half. While I will be the first person to start feverishly filling out character charts, personality typing my characters (more on that next time), and creating Pinterest boards ... I hate outlining.

However, for me, it is crucial that I know what I'm writing before I begin. Thus, a certain level of outlining is an important step in my writing journey.

Let's banish some myths before we get much further. Outlining myths like:

  • outlines have to be in actual outline format (chronological facts is the only must)
  • outlines must be used when writing (depends on the person!)
  • outlines are a waste of time (the goal is to save time)
  • outlines have to be intricate (not usually necessary)
  • outlines must be easy to be worthwhile (sorry, I wish)
  • outlines are a killjoy (not when you find what works for you)
  • outlines' every detail must make it into the story (think of an outline as your first draft)
  • outlines cannot be departed from (check whether it's vital to your outline)
Here's what the first chapter of Martin Hospitality looked like when it was plotted out in March of 2016. I did not use this one much once I began writing.
There are some things I love about this outline, but it became better for tracking what I needed to revise instead of what I needed to write. However, going through the very process helped me get things straight. So, if you're at all like me, it doesn't matter what your outline looks like, as long as it helps you wrap your head around your story.

Fast forward almost three years, and here's what my outline looked like for Simply Jane Smith, a novella I drafted in November. I used this one a lot when writing.
So different!! I got the entire novella plotted out in this format before I wrote a single word. Having it in checklist style also really helped me want to get from one point to the next without getting bogged down in the details. Much more user-friendly for me.

In case you can't tell by now, there are a gazillion different ways you can outline. From how I was taught to do it for essays (example 1) to word-vomit bullet points (example 2), the important thing is don't get hung up on how.

Instead, think of what you want to accomplish (your list might look different than mine):

  • eliminate plot holes
  • understand your characters' motivations
  • develop your three-act structure
  • know how it will begin and end
Even just those few things accomplished with outlining is sufficient for me. So whether you're a pantser or a plotter, pick what you need to nail down before you can write well and accomplish that with an outline. This will help you decide what kind of outline style is for you. 

Treat your outline as an early draft. Revise your outline now so you don't have to revise your story as much later. This is, essentially, the whole purpose of an outline. True pantsers who like to dive in without much plotting (and certainly no outlining) tend to have many more drafts than a plotter.

But I think everyone outlines some in their own way, whether they know it or not. What do you think character names, deaths and greatest fears are? Outline material! Just like setting, themes, and plot. Getting those scattered notes into one chronological list may help more than you think!
Are you someone who typically outlines? I hope this has given you some things to think about! Any other outlining methods out there?