CREATING 3-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS
Characters need to feel real to the reader. The reader has to be able to relate if we want them to keep reading.
The character has to touch us on a human level.
People have both good and bad qualities. A villain is not always a bad guy or evil in reality. He has his own story that powers his psyche and motivates his choices and actions.
Sometimes the villain thinks he is fighting for the right reasons. He is just as passionate about his cause and desires as the protagonist.
Maybe it is the law of duality that comes into play, they are both wrong and right. Sometimes the bad guy is not really a bad guy at all. The bad guy might just be someone in opposition to the hero’s agenda, both right with opposing desires.
What if the villain is someone the hero calls a friend. There are so many shades of gray in the human equation.
The scariest villain is the one that feels like the guy next door. Or the guy with the uncanny understanding of the human psyche, which is why he gets away with it. My favorite example of this is Thrawn from the Star Wars Universe.
This type of deep deception can be terrifying. That is why I look to the Zodiac and personality typing to help provide ideas for creating characters that are not like me.
Signs of the Zodiac:
Aries March 21st-April 19th, Taurus April 20th-May 20th, Gemini May 21st-June 20th, Cancer June 21st-July 22nd,
Leo July 23-August 22nd, Virgo August 23rd-September 22nd, Libra September 23rd-October 22nd,
Scorpio October 23rd-November 21st, Sagittarius November 22nd-December 21st, Capricorn December 22nd-January 19th,
Aquarius January 20th-February 18th, Pisces February 19th-March 20th
Character Traits via Zodiac
Negative & Positive traits
● Aspects to consider for conflict-Energy of the sign e.g confrontational (Aries element is fire)
● Consider the polar opposite sign to contrast hero vs villain — Example using Aries & Libra: Aries vs Libra, Fire sign vs Air sign, sign (Traits=Self-interest vs Shared-interest.)
● Positive Aries qualities: Curious, energetic, enthusiastic, action-oriented, adventurous, risk-takers, like the Adrenalin rush, courageous, versatile, lively, and there are a few more.
● Negative Aries qualities: Arrogant, insensitive, stubborn, impulsive, scattered, confrontational, tend to leave things unfinished.
ASSOCIATIONS, CONFLICT & PERSONALITY USING ELEMENTS & TRAITS
Think of all the associations you can make to fire and apply that to the character in terms of energy, personality, and character thought process. The symbology of the elements can expand your ideas and the dimension of character growth potential.
Generate conflict for your characters using the elements and traits of the zodiac.
Spark your ideas by comparing your protagonist traits and elements to your villain’s. This can find conflict potential and opposition for the characters and sometimes overall ARC of the story.
EXCAVATE INFO IN ASTROLOGICAL HOUSES, ASPECTS, MINOR PLANETS & ASTEROIDS, SOUTH & NORTH NODES
Get inspired in a more general sense by mining astrology for more characterization traits using the zodiac houses, different aspects ratios, minor planets-asteroids, the rising sign, and north-south nodes to expand a character’s world.
The possibilities are endless for conflict, external and internal when searching for ideas to write about. They work for the good guy, bad guy, and your whole cast of characters.
Tack any of those descriptions or elements, especially lumped together, on a character to get a snapshot into their psyche, what that person might be like, and why they do the things they do.
Whether it is protagonist or antagonist both should have qualities from each category to make a more rounded personality.
You can slant the traits and element more to the negative than positive or vice versa, depending on the character type you want to create. e.g., good guy, bad guy or something in between.
USING ASTROLOGY SOFTWARE
I like to use astrology software for quick report generation of the different signs, which gives me a more detailed analysis of each.
There are lots of free sites you can use to find basic astrological information.
If you plan to keep using the zodiac for character creation than you may decide to invest in software that does it for you generating an unlimited in-depth astrological profile for every character.
USING PERSONALITY TESTING
For myself, I like knowing the psychology of my character and often use personality typing tests to glean understanding.
A personality test is not about whether someone is good or bad, but about strengths and weaknesses.
When I write a character that is not like me at all this information can help form a clearer picture of why the characters make the choices they do and/or hidden motivations that the character might not be aware of themselves.
My personal favorite test is the Myers-Briggs personality test and Keirsey Temperament test. For core motivations the Color Code test.
Don’t take the test yourself, let your character take the test. He may surprise you triggering the best kind of writing.
In conclusion, this is not how to create a character so much, but a presentation of how astrology and personality typing might aid you in the creation and generation of ideas, conflict, and characters that are not like you.
PERSONALITY TYPING FUN LINKS
- ColorCode Personality Typing Specifically geared toward your CORE motivation = driving force = why deep down you do the things you do. (My Color is Blue)
- Personality Typing–MYERS-BRIGGS-JUNG TYPOLOGY This one is more about strength and weakness which change with time. You can change types. I have tested ENFP, ENTP, ENFJ, INFJ, INTP over the years. (My Type: INFP)
- MY ARCHETYPE: ( 38% THE CREATIVE, 38% THE VISIONARY, 24% SPIRITUAL) What ARCHETYPE are you? Take the QUIZ.
We are all on the hero’s journey.
WHAT’S MY SIGN? SAGITTARIUS.
Below is a character profile I have adapted for my own use with astrology and personality typing of characters with links to helpful resources.
Basic Extended Character Profile Cheatsheet
This is a character profile cheatsheet that I created to aid you as a writing resource. It was created to help with creating character basics with astrology and personality typing.
Once you sign up the link will take you to the Google Doc, which I have set as view only link. IF you click on FILE, in the top menu (left), it gives you the option to make a copy.
You can save it to your Google Drive with an editable copy, OR you can just copy and paste the profile into a text program or Google Doc of your choosing. It was created to be reusable.
- *This article was originally published in the anthology Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Guide To Publishing and Beyond. It has been updated and repurposed for Medium.
- You can also find it at JunetaKey.com along with more information about the author.