Friday, March 14, 2008

Creating Your Hero's Fatal Flaw



I'm delighted to welcome as our guest blogger this Friday a talanted lady most of you will know, either through her novels or classes.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell has spent 20 years writing advertising copy, her Master's in Counseling thesis, and romance novels for Silhouette Special Edition -- including one that beat out Nora Roberts for "Best of the Year." Now she writes about finding the best traits of a product (or person) and balancing them with traits that'll create conflict...not only BETWEEN credible characters, but also WITHIN them. Her classes range from from synopsis-as-advertising to writers-block-busting, and you can see them at www.BookLaurie.com . Today she's going to share techniques for creating your hero's (or any other character's) fatal flaw.

What fun to be with a bunch of great writers -- and readers!

A few weeks ago a friend asked me why her hero NEEDED a fatal flaw. Wouldn't an ordinary flaw be good enough?

And I realized that it's misleading to call these flaws fatal...because how often, at least in a happy-ending book, does the hero wind up dead?

(Okay, we won't count the gorgeous vampires.)

But unless we're writing about James Bond or someone else where the action matters more than the character, every single person we write about will have some kind of flaw.

Why? Because real-life people HAVE flaws. And it's those defects, or the desire to overcome them, which can lead to our characters' motivation.

SPEAKING OF MOTIVATION...

The fact is, virtually everyone -- in fiction as well as in real life -- is doing the best they can with what they've got.

A serial killer? Yep. A cheating spouse? Yep. A compulsive spender? Yep.

As writers, we can make those people every bit as easy to understand as the tax-paying, lawn-mowing, child-loving characters. (Maybe they're one and the same.)

That doesn't surprise anyone who knows that even the darkest villains have some plausible motivation for whatever they do.

It's only natural. After all, none of us ever does ANYthing without a reason.

(If you just crossed your legs, you had a reason: your body was uncomfortable in the old position. If you move to Antarctica, you have a reason: maybe you got a job there, or someone you love got a job there and you'd rather be with this person in Antarctica than without them somewhere else. We don't always think about our reasons for whatever we do, but no matter what we do, there's a reason.)

So every character, just like every real-life person, is doing whatever they think will work best for them at this point in their life. Holing up in an ivory tower. Partying all night. Nurturing everyone they can get their hands on. Worrying about terrorism. Everyone picks what seems like the best way of getting along in the world.

And what they pick is a clue to their personality type. Which, again, is something that EVERYONE has.

We don't care much about the cabbie who drives our hero to the train station, so that cabbie doesn't need any special personality type or motivation...nor any fatal flaws. He doesn't need to overcome any problems in his life or his personality.

But every major character has to overcome something in order to evolve during the course of the book. And that's why we writers need to know our characters' fatal flaws.

FINDING A FATAL FLAW

It's handy that enneagram theorists have already identified a flaw for each of the nine personality types. "Ennea" (ANY-uh) is the Greek word for nine, and enneagrams are handy for counselors and personnel managers who want to understand the people they're dealing with. Which makes them handy for writers as well!

Of course each type has its own special strengths as well as its own particular weakness. And our characters -- just like all of us -- manage to overcome their flaws most of the time.

But stress can bring out the worst in people. Just as we've seen in these characters from the American Title books. :)

We already know that stress, or conflict, is what keeps a story interesting. So our characters are going to come up against situations that reveal the worst of their flaws...which will give them the opportunity for a triumphant change.

No matter which type they are.

Each type's name gives a clue to their strength, and their flaw is what happens when that strength is taken to extremes:

Perfectionist One: Anger when they (or anything else) isn't perfect
Nurturer Two: Pride in being needed by everyone around them
Achiever Three: Deception to keep up their outstanding facade
Romantic Four: Envy because other's lives seem MORE glorious
Observer Five: Avarice for more privacy and greater knowledge
Skeptic Six: Fear of possible danger to their loved ones (or self)
Adventurer Seven: Gluttony for every possible new experience
Leader Eight: Lust for power, to be in control of their surroundings Peacemaker Nine: Sloth, keeping life comfortable and decision-free

See the possibilities? That's only the beginning!

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN...

I've talked enough, here, but if there's anything you'd like to know about your characters or their types -- or the types of anyone else in your life -- I'll be checking back for questions all day.

And anyone who speaks up will go into an end-of-the-day drawing to win still MORE enneagram info...with an autographed copy of my "Believable Characters: Creating With Enneagrams" book.

So I'm rolling up my sleeves and hoping like crazy I won't be the only person at the party today!

Laurie, who'd love it if you already KNOW your own (or your character's) enneagram type -- what is it?

60 comments:

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Laurie,

Thank you so much for being here with us today. Your books sounds like a wonderful resource for writers. I have used the enneagram to help understand my characters in the past, along with astrology and the Meyers Biggs system. I'm a peacemaker, number nine. Hate to say this, but the character flaw is spot on. I have to push myself continually to keep making decisons, being active and pushing forward. It is so easy to slip into the comfortable routine of doing little stuff that doesn't matter and not risking confrontation or dissapointment.

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Oh, this is awesome. I love enneagrams, but I don't know a lot about them. I do know when I took a test, I came out to be a 4.

What I'd love to know are quick ways to assess someone's enneagram type, if that's even possible...or do they have to complete the test for you to know?

JACLYN said...

Oh, boy. I fit your number two and your number nine. so what does that say about me?
I enjoy helping others and I try to avoid confrontation of any kind.
I'm afraid I interject my feelings to my H/H.
I've been told that my sexual tension and conflict isn't strong enough to carry through my WIP. That I have them attracted to each other to soon.
When I correct and go the other way, one editor told me she didn't like my heroine as she was a "bitch,"
Now you see my dilemma.

I enjoyed your note here and will try to put it to good use.
Jaclyn Vieira Di Bona

Beth Trissel said...

Fascinating, thought provoking. I'm wondering if a character can have more than one flaw. After pondering, I feel certain I do, rather like reading over a list of symptoms and deciding I have that disease or condition. Poor Monk comes to mind, from the TV show.

Nightingale said...

Hum. Considering my favorite hero's flaw. You see he is perfect--handsome, rich, immortal, aristocracy--but he thinks people want him for his beauty. Trying to decide which of the 9 he is. Your post got the old wheels turning.

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Laurie!

Since I've already taken your awesome workshop and applied it to all my characters, I know my type it 5, The Observer.

I've always been a bookworm since I first learned to read and have to reason everything out. I'd also rather read about something than do it.

See? I remember the lessons.

Great to see you here!

Stephanie Arwen Lynch said...

Very interesting. I just took a test (one of those 20 question ones) and it tells me I am a 5. I am not sure about that. I think I'll sit back and think about it. (grin)

Judythe Morgan said...

Laurie,
Enneagrams are a tremendous help to get to know your characters. I can't wait to get your book...I just emailed Cider Press...and learn more.
Thanks for sharing today and peaking my interest in enneagrams again.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Oh, cool, people are already up and about (a lot earlier in the morning than I am! That's the down-side of being on West Coast time.)

Anyway, some quick answers coming up...I'll put the questioner's name & topic at the top of each one.

And meanwhile, a big thanks to Helen for inviting me into such a well-read site!

Laurie, looking forward to seeing what comes up today :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

IDENTIFYING TYPES (FOR RHONDA)

> quick ways to assess someone's
> enneagram type...or do they have
> to complete the test

Enneagram theorists insist that nobody can determine anyone else's type; it's strictly a do-it-yourself proposition. (Of course fiction writers get an exception when it comes to our characters!)

But just reading descriptions of each type can make it pretty easy to GUESS what someone is. A lot of people, like on here, immediately say "Wow, I sure sound like a ___." Others want more study before deciding on theirs. Either way is fine!

Keep in mind, too, that just because someone shows something like (for instance) Anger, it doesn't automatically mean that they're a Type One/Perfectionist whose fatal flaw is Anger. ANYBODY would be angry if someone cut them off in traffic or murdered their daughter.

It's only when a particular response is the "default" position that it can be a clue...hmm, here's probably this person's fatal flaw. But there are plenty of other clues that don't involve a fatal flaw.

And browsing for the right ones is a lot of fun -- even though we're not supposed to assign anyone a type unless they choose it for themselves!

Frieda Knezek said...

Honestly, I thought enneagrams were something from the Jewish tradition. Yes, feel free and join in - I'm laughing, too. I'm painfully ignorant on this subject, but excited about learning more. My hero is a Leader 8 and the heroine is Romantic 4. Creating flaws and situations in which the character must choose to change doesn't come easy for me. So thank you, Laurie, for sharing with us. I'll be here.

Patricia said...

Hi, Laurie

Great column. I've fiddled with MB a bit for my characters, but not enneagram type. I'll definitely look into this and get your book. You are always such a wealth of information and a breath of fresh air. Great photo too. You always make me smile and now I have a better image of who I'm smiling at.

Cheers

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

WHICH TYPE? (FOR JACLYN)

> I fit your number two and your
> number nine. so what does that
> say about me?

A couple of possibilities! You might be a Two with some Nine traits, or a Nine with some Two traits (because we all have some of EACH type within us), or you might even be a One who spends almost all her time in the One "wings."

The idea is that each type has extra traits from the types on either side of it. Someone who's a Four, for instance, is more likely to have Three and Five traits than someone who's a One.

We won't necessarily reflect traits of both our "wings" strongly all the time, but they do tend to be stronger than other traits.

So look at the possibilities. If you sometimes see traits of Eight and One coming out in you, you're more likely a Nine. If you see One and Three traits, you're more likely a Two. And if you see Two and Nine, you're more likely a One.

Fun to have lots of numbers to play with, huh? :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

EXTRA FLAWS (FOR BETH)

> I'm wondering if a character can
> have more than one flaw.

Oh, sure, a character can have all KINDS of flaws! Just like people in real life...in fact, if we all had only one flaw apiece, the world would be a much happier place.

But it wouldn't make for such great fiction. :)

When it comes to choosing which flaw feels MOST like yourself or your character, try imagining that person in all kinds of horrible situations. Their dog ran away. Their money was stolen. They gained ten pounds. Their country was invaded. What's gonna be their response?

If it's along the lines of any of these, that might be a clue:

One "I must do the Right Thing."
Two "People need my loving care."
Three "I must keep looking good."
Four "How can I POSSIBLY go ON?!"
Five "I'll analyze this privately."
Six "Gotta find the nearest exit."
Seven "Something new every minute!"
Eight "I'll take charge, here."
Nine "Don't expect ME to decide..."

We might feel ALL those responses, depending on the situation. But if any one of them comes up more often and feels more true, that's likely to be a sign...HERE'S probably the flaw we'd consider our Own Best.

Or worst. :)

But remember, there IS no best or worst when it comes to types OR flaws. All nine have their ups and downs!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

"PERFECT" FLAW (FOR NIGHTINGALE)

> he is perfect--handsome, rich,
> immortal, aristocracy--but he
> thinks people want him for his
> beauty. Trying to decide which of
> the 9 he is.

Oh, gosh, this guy sounds like a classic Three! More than any other type, they're concerned with Image...the right appearance. They want to be good at everything they do -- if they can't be good at it, they won't do it. (Or else they'll be so charmingly incompetent that they win everyone over THAT way.)

But because they're always projecting this fabulous image -- which may sometimes involve a bit of deception -- they can't be sure people love them for who they really are. After all, who even KNOWS who they really are? Most people just see (and adore) the glorious facade.

So for this hero to come up against somebody who sees through his perfect image and loves him anyway, flaws and all, is going to be a wonderful road to Happily Ever After!

Kat said...

Hi Laurie,
I didn't know you had a book out. I can't wait to read it.

I believe I'm a 2, a nuturer. In my family, I'm the caretaker.

This is all fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing this information on enneagrams.

Kat Jorgensen

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

TYPE FIVE (FOR SUSAN)

> I've always been a bookworm since I
> first learned to read and have to
> reason everything out...also rather
> read about something than do it.
> See? I remember the lessons.

Definitely a Five in action!

And what's interesting is that whenever I give this class online, there tend to be more Fives on board than any other type. (How can people who love learning resist a chance for more of it?)

That's not so obvious in a live group, because showing up for a one-hour lecture doesn't take the kind of passion for New Information that Fives possess in spades. But in a month-long class...OH, yeah!

Laurie, who shouldn't be surprised that the lessons stayed with a Five :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

MORE FIVE (FOR STEPHANIE)

> I just took a test (one of those 20
> question ones) and it tells me I am
> a 5. I think I'll sit back and
> think about it. (grin)

Is this a great illustration, or what?!

Speaking of tests, there are some fabulous ones out there. In my book, sure, but also online at
www.enneagraminstitute.com/Tests_Battery.asp

So for anybody who loves quizzes you can do right on the spot -- without even having to sharpen your pencil -- check it out!

Frieda said...

OK. So now I'm getting confused. My heroine fell under the romantic four catagory for imagining other's lives to be more exciting, adventurous, etc than her own. But given the four's reaction of "How can I possibly go on?"...doesn't fit her at all.

HOLEY SCHMOLEY! You wrote: Someone who's a Four, for instance, is more likely to have Three and Five traits than someone who's a One.

So I decided to check that out. Amazing. She's very much a four in her day-to-day world...trying to understand herself/find her place and afraid she has no significance. When her world's turned up-side-down, though, she reverts more to the three: the need to succeed, so she literally adopts a "new" her in the story. Thing is, this "new" her is the person she just never let out.

Oh, this is just way too much fun...

Lacey Savage said...

Laurie, this is fascinating! I'm adding your book to my wish list. :-)

I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for ensuring characters don't waver from their basic personality throughout the book. How do you keep a hero from slipping into behavior that would be out of character for a 4, for example?

Lacey

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

BOOK (FOR JUDITH)

> I can't wait to get your book...I
> just emailed Cider Press

You know, I'll email them as well to make they fill any orders coming in this weekend with autographed copies. Might as well reward blog readers with a personal touch!

Laurie, who should mention that you can order directly from
ciderpress@yahoo.com -- or see me at RWA National and save postage :)

Anonymous said...

When it comes to choosing which flaw feels MOST like yourself or your character, try imagining that person in all kinds of horrible situations. Their dog ran away. Their money was stolen. They gained ten pounds. Their country was invaded. What's gonna be their response?

If it's along the lines of any of these, that might be a clue:

One "I must do the Right Thing."
Two "People need my loving care."
Three "I must keep looking good."
Four "How can I POSSIBLY go ON?!"
Five "I'll analyze this privately."
Six "Gotta find the nearest exit."
Seven "Something new every minute!"
Eight "I'll take charge, here."
Nine "Don't expect ME to decide..."

Pat M said...

Laurie this awesome! I have to learn more about this.

At first I thought my hero was a 1 but maybe he’s an 8 or possibly a 5. I realize my heroine is a 1 but doesn’t want to be.

Like I said, awesome and interesting, I definitely need to learn more.

Thanks for sending me to this site.

Pat M

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

TRADITION & CHANGE (FOR FREIDA)

> I thought enneagrams were something
> from the Jewish tradition.

Actually, they might be! They've been around for centuries -- the Sufis got credit for the original idea, and then a guy named Gurdjieff brought them west.

> My hero is a Leader 8 and the
> heroine is Romantic 4.

Ooh, this is gonna be an intense relationship, because both feel like they're above the rules. Eight admires and envies Four's artistic creativity, Four admires and envies Eight's emotional authenticity. But when they’re angry, the sparks fly!

> Creating flaws and situations in
> which the character must choose to
> change doesn't come easy for me.

A lot of people have this problem, and it's a sign of Not Wanting Loved Ones To Suffer. Which is actually a lovely thing.

But I always tell nice writers, think of it as doing a favor for your readers who WANT to see conflict. It's not that you're being mean to your characters, it's that you're being kind to real-life people!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

MYERS-BRIGGS (FOR PAT)

> I've fiddled with MB a bit for my
> characters, but not enneagram type.

I think both systems are wonderful! There's been some research, in fact (oops, is my Five showing?) that lines up with enneagrams go with which MB types...all I remember is that INTJ is a Five.

> now I have a better image of who
> I'm smiling at.

Bless your heart, isn't that fun? I always LOVE meeting people at conferences, because it's such a kick putting faces with names. :)

Laurie, who's embarrassed at how RARELY the real person matches the picture I had in my mind

Frieda said...

OK. You're giving me the creeps. (In a good way.)

You wrote:
Ooh, this is gonna be an intense relationship, because both feel like they're above the rules. Eight admires and envies Four's artistic creativity, Four admires and envies Eight's emotional authenticity. But when they’re angry, the sparks fly!

When, precisely, did you sneak into my house and read my ms? hee hee

Anyone else getting the eerie feeling that this stuff works?

Liz Jasper said...

Hi Laurie,

I often find those "all people can be classified as one of x types" theories overly simplistic and annoying, but I like the enneagram classification because it looks at how an individual is likely to act in times of stress. And as you pointed out, characters in novels get stressed, to say the least. I really enjoyed this. : )

Liz

2008 EPPIE Award winning author of UNDERDEAD.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

NURTURER TWO (FOR KAT)

> I believe I'm a 2, a nuturer. In my
> family, I'm the caretaker.

If being the caretaker has been a lifelong pattern, you're definitely a Two.

If it's only been (for instance) since you had kids and realized SOMEBODY would have to make sure they got their noses wiped & cereal heated & sheets changed, you might be a Situational Nurturer instead.

Which is every bit as good, in terms of the care being given -- it's just a lifestyle that's adapted for a specific set of circumstances rather than being an enneagram type. Once the kids no longer need constant care, the interrupted type comes back into play.

But if you take pride in caring for everyone around you, if they all agree "we don't know what we'd DO without Kat," if you go out of your way to provide comfort even for people who don't technically have any right to expect it from you, that's a Two in action for sure!

Keely said...

Three "I must keep looking good."

Okay, scary - when I read this I immediately thought of the end of Psycho where Norman Bates is thinking he won't wave the fly away from his nose to show everyone that he wouldn't hurt a fly...

Keely
(who is still figuring out her enneagram)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

CHANGING UNDER STRESS (FRIEDA)

> She's very much a four in her day-
> to-day world...trying to understand
> herself/find her place and afraid
> she has no significance.

Ooh, NICE description of a Four!

> When her world's turned up-side-
> down, though, she reverts more to
> the three: the need to succeed ...
> this "new" her is the person she
> just never let out.

Isn't that the coolest thing? People can go a lifetime in one slot where they're perfectly comfortable -- maybe not ecstatic or challenged or stimulated, but certainly right at home -- and then, wham, along comes some conflict and what happens?

Exactly what this heroine discovered...there's so much MORE to us than the comfortable surface!

Laurie, convinced that's why readers like conflict in books -- it reminds us all of our secret power that generally never needs to come forth

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

STAYING IN CHARACTER (FOR LACEY)

> suggestions for ensuring characters
> don't waver from their basic
> personality throughout the book.
> How do you keep a hero from
> slipping into behavior that would be
> out of character for a 4, for example?

Here's where it comes in handy to be a fiction writer rather than an enneagram theorist. :)

As long as a hero feels consistent, readers aren't going to CARE whether he's staying true to his enneagram type. So making him act like a Four is no different than making him act like a Southerner, a firstborn, a Scorpio, an ENTP, whatever...it just has to seem credible.

Sure, he might occasionally act more like a Three or a Five. He might even act like a One or a Two -- because each type not only has "wings," it also has two "arrows" that it'll go to more readily than other types.

Which, shoot, is a whole separate topic...let me continue that one with a fresh header!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

WINGS & ARROWS

The deal is, we all have SOME of each type within us. But we're likely to have MORE of the types that are listed as our wings and arrows -- the ones on either side of our own, and the extras that we "go to."

You know on the lecture page where you see that weird-looking chart? Imagine all nine types arranged in a circle, and each one is connected to the numbers on either side of it, and two more numbers as well.

If the chart shows up perfectly on your screen, no need to keep reading. If it doesn't, here's an all-type guide:

Perfectionist 1 also has 2, 4, 7 & 9.
Nurturer 2 also has 1, 3, 4 & 8.
Achiever 3 also has 2, 4, 6 & 9.
Romantic 4 also has 1, 2, 3 & 5.
Observer 5 also has 4, 6, 7 & 8.
Skeptic 6 also has 3, 5, 7 & 9.
Adventurer 7 also has 1, 5, 6 & 8.
Leader 8 also has 2, 5, 7 & 9.
Peacemaker 9 also has 1, 3, 6 & 8.

So no matter which type you or your character is, it's likely there'll be quite a few hints of these other numbers in the personality as well.

Will every 9 show equal amounts of 1, 3, 6 and 8? No way...that's just one more area in which we're all so different!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

RESISTANT TO TYPE (PAT M)

> my heroine is a 1 but doesn’t want to be.

It's funny how often this comes up! Ones, especially, have a tough time reconciling their desire to be on the side of Right & Goodness & Justice & Truth at all times, with their anger when anyone (inluding themselves) slips up.

After all, anger isn't always considered a "good" emotion. So if they're feeling angry, there must be something wrong with them. Oh, noooo!!!

The best-adjusted Ones, of course, realize that EVERYONE (including themselves) is going to slip up here and there...so they're willing to forgive mistakes, vow to do better next time (or help the other guy do better) and move on.

But until they come to terms with the fact that FEELING anger doesn't make you a Bad Person, they sometimes have a hard time accepting that they're a One. After all, if you're a perfectionist, you've gotta do everything perfectly -- which means being as thoughtful as a Two, as shining as a Three, as creative as a Four, as studious as a Five, as watchful as a Six, as enthusiastic as a Seven, as powerful as an Eight, and as gentle as a Nine.

Tough order to fill...and nobody goes at it more wholeheartedly than a One!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

HOW IT WORKS (FOR FRIEDA & LIZ)

> Anyone else getting the eerie feeling
> that this stuff works?

> I often find those "all people can be
> classified as one of x types" theories
> overly simplistic and annoying, but I
> like the enneagram classification
> because it looks at how an individual
> is likely to act in times of stress.

Enneagrams are just so cool!

But it sure IS annoying when people preach that "___ is all you need to create realistic characters." The ONLY need for using enneagrams (or astrology, or archetypes, or birth order, or any other system) is if it makes your job easier.

Because your job is really just to feel like this character works, like this is somebody you could see in real life, reacting in ways that suit your story.

Any tool that doesn't make that happen isn't worth keeping. We all develop our own sets -- probably every writer in the world has a different batch of tools.

But it's always fun to find a new one that works!

Frieda said...

You wrote:
Laurie, convinced that's why readers like conflict in books -- it reminds us all of our secret power that generally never needs to come forth

Now that right there makes me feel a whole lot better about being cruel to my characters. :)I love it - secret power.

I know you're limited here, but will you be touching on how to use the enneagram to know how to test your characters the best? Or is that a whole 'nuther talk?

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

WORST CASE (FOR KEELY)

> Three "I must keep looking good."
> ...Norman Bates thinking he won't wave
> the fly away from his nose to show
> everyone that he wouldn't hurt a fly

"Scary" is right. :)

This would definitely be a Three at his absolute worst. And you can imagine the other types at THEIR absolute worst, just as easily.

One: rabidly crushing anyone who doesn't agree with MY idea of Right
Two: forcing care & attention on people who no longer want/need it
Four: Miss Havisham in Great Expectations
Five: ivory-tower professor indifferent to his own lonely child
Six: Casper Milquetoast OR what's called the "counter-phobic" Six who
lives to break rules
Seven: Peter Pan, refusing to ever grow up and settle down
Eight: an utterly self-absorbed boss who expects mindless obedience
Nine: wallowing in deliberate ignorance of any potential problem

The thing is, all of those traits are the other side of the coin from what's GOOD about these people. At their best, these are fabulous organizers, devoted caretakers, inspiring stars, passionate artists, dedicated investigators, thoughtful planners, fascinating companions, compassionate leaders and gifted mediators.

It's all just a question of which side they come down on!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

TESTING CHARACTERS (FOR FRIEDA)

> how to use the enneagram to know
> how to test your characters the best?
> Or is that a whole 'nuther talk?

Actually, it is -- but there are two ways to get it:

www.rwamysterysuspense.org/coffin.html
(a KOD class in June)
www.oirw.net/campus/currentcourselist.htm
(an Outreach class in January 2009)

Both of 'em mention "hero / he" but that's just for titling purposes...it works just as well if the character is a heroine / she!

Laurie, always in favor of testing characters :)

Mona Risk said...

Laurie what a great and useful blog. I need to take your class. I found I am a 2 nurturer.

My hero is an 8 leader, the problem is my heroine is a mix of 8 and 3 achiever. Can that create conflict?

Lexie O'Neill said...

Dear Laurie,
Thanks so much for blogging with us! I had never heard of this, even though I'm a psychologist:) I feel like I'm learning a lot just by reading your post, others' posts, and your responses. Thanks so much for the detailed answers.
If I don't win the book, I'll buy it:) Wait, does that jinx me?
Lexie O'Neill

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

CONFLICT COMBOS (FOR MONA)

> My hero is an 8 leader, the problem
> is my heroine is a mix of 8 and 3
> achiever. Can that create conflict?

Absolutely ANY combination of types can create conflict. (Whew!) Let's look at these two possibilities:

Eight with Eight: each of them knows there's only one best way to do things. Each one knows the other is flat-out wrong. Neither one sees any reason to give in and let the other person take control. Why should they share power with someone else?

Eight with Three: He's willing to support her glorious facade as long as she's willing to let him be in charge. She'll concede power only if that benefits her image. But what if it comes down to a choice between his power and her image?

Neither combination is going to guarantee these characters a life-and-death conflict. But both possibilities can be intensified or relieved, depending on where you are in the story.

And you can already tell what's gonna happen at the end.... :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

TIPS (FOR LEXIE)

> I'm learning a lot just by reading
> your post, others' posts, and your
> responses. Thanks so much for the
> detailed answers.

Oh, gosh, it's a pleasure! And I love it when people talk about their specific types (or their characters' types) because that opens the way for so much more information. So if there are any types you want to know more about, just holler. :)

> If I don't win the book, I'll buy > it:) Wait, does that jinx me?

Hmm, probably!

No, actually what I do is make a name-drawing slip of paper for everybody who posts a comment, and dump 'em all on my husband -- the only person who's willing to do such a chore at midnight. Worst case, the winner will wind up owning two copies...which, come to think of it, DOES sound like a pretty good reason not to order a book just yet!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Laurie, for once, I'm glad about being a night owl, and just arriving. All the posts have been so informative. I'd heard of enneagrams, and just the basics. I'm having a great time comparing it with numerology in my head, which I've studied a bit. From everything said, so far, I'll have to claim the one designation. What's really fascinating is the 'wings' and 'arrows' -- or slings of character arrows...never mind. *Insert waking up mind here.*
What I find really fascinating is how the types interact -- as in when you described the three and eight -- if he makes sure she's looking good, she'll be more amenable to letting him take charge. Or if she lets him take charge, he could be happier to make her look good...if not, therein lies the conflict. Thanks, for explaining it so it makes sense.

Nancy said...

Laurie, hi! I havet o get your book because, and fascinating as the enneagram is, I can't seem to get a handle on working from it. This post is a help, and I know I need more. :))

Thanks for visiting, and thank you Title Magic ladies for this terific guest!

Light,
Nancy
www.nancyhaddock.com

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FASCINATING (FOR SAVANNA & NANCY)

> What's really fascinating is the
> 'wings' and 'arrows' ... fascinating
> how the types interact

> fascinating as the enneagram is,
> I can't seem to get a handle on
> working from it.

You couldn't have picked a better descriptiom for the enneagram! I love watching how everything inter-connects (oops, is that a word?) and watching characters run into trouble based on nothing but their own personality type.

In terms of how to work from it, I've tried starting with characters whose types I already know AND starting with flaws that I want to see overcome...both ways have worked fine. But I think it depends on what process you use for getting to know your characters -- there are sure a lot of ways to do it besides enneagrams!

Laurie, who can tell it's almost time to go home because (duh) how obvious a statement was THAT?

Neringa said...

Hi, Laurie,

I love writing strong characters.
Just thank you for covering this subject and sharing your research and insight... your time and talent are appreciated,

Neringa

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us today. I love to give my characters faults and then needle those faults! You've also set my mind into spinning another whole new novel . . . thanks!:)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

THANKS! (FOR NERINGA, ANITA & ALL)

> your time and talent are appreciated

> You've also set my mind into spinning
> another whole new novel

What a cool thing to read at the end of the day...it's been a real treat checking posts, off and on.

I'm about to head home with the drawing-slips printed out, including some empty ones in case anyone else posts before bedtime (because it seems only fair to give people in other time zones a chance to catch up.

Anyway, thanks to EVERYBODY who dropped by with a question -- you're who made this such a great day!

Laurie, who'll check back during the weekend just in case anybody wants an analysis of their type/s (can you tell this stuff is addictive? :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

PRIZE DRAWING (FOR MONA)

How's THAT headline for announcing today's winner?

Mona, congratulations on having your name drawn by my husband (who comes in very handy on such occasions :) -- and let me know via my website email where to send your book!

Laurie, calling it a night but checking back during the weekend in case I missed anything

Ashlyn Chase said...

HI Laurie,

Thanks for an ah-ha! moment just now. Thanks to you I'll always remember that the fatal flaw can just be the stregth taken to an extreme.

Ash

seabroo said...

Laurie, I just finished your Plot & Motivation class and came away with an outline for a brand new book. Now I'm in the middle of your Block Busting class and at this point can only say "WOW!". I'm definitely signing up for your Fatal Flaw class and ordering your Enneagram book. Thanks so much for all the great info you share!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

THANKS! (FOR ASH & SHEILA)

> fatal flaw can just be the strength
> taken to an extreme.

> came away with an outline for
> a brand new book...at this point
> can only say "WOW!"

You guys, it's always SUCH a treat to hear that something has clicked with somebody...thanks for letting me know!

Laurie, who spoke today at a symphony-benefit luncheon and came away thinking "drat, as nice as supporters of the arts might BE, they're just nowhere as fun as writers"

Carol Burge said...

Wow, interesting topic! I love this kind of suff. :) I'm glad Savannah stopped by my blog today, otherwise I'd have missed this!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Laurie,
I'm now taking your joy of writing class on writers' block, but I've taken a couple of your other classes, including the enneagram class, and I've really enjoyed all of them.
The posts to this blog plus the blog itself added to my understanding of the complex topic of enneagrams.
I thought it was interesting when you mentioned that type ones sometimes have a difficult time reconciling themselves to their anger, because anger is considered "bad." In fiction, a male character can be depicted as angry, but anger often seems to be a no-no when characterizing female heroines, even if it's righteous anger. I haven't made a formal study of this of course, but it does seem to be true--a case of art mirroring life.
I wondered if anyone wanted to comment on this--if they have written about or read in someone else's book about "good" anger in a female protagonist.
Only one example stands out to me--fantasy writer Robert Jordan created a memorable female character who was lovable despite getting angry all the time. She wore a long braid that hung down her back, and she'd reach back and pull it when she got mad. The character's name is something like Naomi, but that's not quite it.
Thanks for all you do!
Mary B.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi, in regards to anger, yep, I think art does mirror life. And I grew up in the environment that any kind of anger was considered wrong for a girl or woman. However, my heroines have tempers. It's part of their natures. I don't mean rage-out-of-control all the time tempers. Usually, it's righteous anger. Or a momentary episode of the heroine's temper being triggered. To me, there's a balance point between anger and all of the other emotions. Of course, it depends on the circumstances of your story also.
Truth to tell, I don't really care for heroines who never get angry, expecially when it's justified.
That might not help you, or answer your question. But I thought I'd chime in, since I do include anger in my novels, both the hero and the heroine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie, Interesting blog. I fall into the Number Nine category. Your book on the use of the anneagram sounds really interesting will have to check that out.

Cheers Moyra

Mona Risk said...

Laurie,

A big thank you for my book and a big hug to your husband for pulling the right name. LOL. I can't wait to receive the book and work on my characters. What a great incentive.

Hellen, a big thank you for inviting Laurie. I'll share my new book with you.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

MISSED ANYTHING? (FOR CAROL & ALL)

> I'm glad Savannah stopped by my blog today,
> otherwise I'd have missed this!


Cool; I'm glad you made i! But you know, anybody who winds up reading this later -- I think the blogs stay in the archives for ages -- you can ALWAYS ask me any enneagram question that comes to mind.

Just email whatever address is on my website at (www.BookLaurie.com), because I love talking about enneagrams anytime, anyplace!

Laurie, who (yep) is definitely a Five :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

ANGER (FOR MARY & SAVANNA)

> a male character can be depicted
> as angry, but anger often seems
> to be a no-no when characterizing female heroines

You now, this is true in real life as well as in fiction! Not so much as a century ago, maybe, but still very much today:

> I grew up in the environment that any kind of anger
> was considered wrong for a girl or woman.

The first time I ever felt really sorry for men as a whole was upon reading "Self-Made Man" by Norah Vincent, who spent time masquerading as a man in various cultures (bowling league, monastery, sales company, etc).

She reported being amazed that men are conditioned not to show any emotion EXCEPT anger, while women are conditioned to show any emotion BUT anger.

Neither system is fair...but as a woman, I felt pleased that we got the bigger plate of options!

Laurie, who pretty much likes a bigger plate of anything

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

NINE (FOR MOYRA)

> I fell into the Number Nine category

Then it's a safe bet all your friends and family find you INCREDIBLY easy to get along with. You make each person feel valued for who they are, and because you're so good at identifying with whatever viewpoint somebody puts forth, you're a natural diplomat.

There might be times when you put your own desires at the bottom of the list, but nobody will EVER complain that "she just doesn't understand people!"

Laurie, who asked an enneagram class for bumper stickers describing each type and still loves one from writer Stephen Rogers: "I'm a Nine...if that's okay with you" :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Laurie, thanks for your generosity and your in answering everyone's questions. Yep, the men got short-changed too, I have to agree. I feel like I should have that #9 plate sometimes. Lol.