View Full Version : Theraputic characterization
October 17th, 2001, 08:59 PM
Sometimes I find myself thinking or talking as if I were the character I'm writing about.
Writing characters feels like I'm temporarily "impersonating" them.
I have seen many writers using their characters as a forum for putting forth their opinions - sometimes even ranting. I wonder why that happens for good or ill?
I'm guessing that every art has it's theraputic benefits. Can you describe how imagining your characters affects you personally? To what extent do people here identify with some of the characters they write about?
October 17th, 2001, 09:15 PM
I don't actually identify with one of the characters I write about; I indentify with all of them. It's a matter of trying to figure out how other people think. Phsycology! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif
October 18th, 2001, 05:47 AM
Psychology indeed. I remember in highschool we were given a special class on personalities. There are basically 4 personality types and the class was to help us determine which type we were so we could understand why we act the way we do. In fact the book was called “Why You Act The Way You Do”.
I understand what you mean about “impersonating” the characters when you write about them. I can’t say that I’ve ever carried that impersonation past the story, though when I’m heavy into writing I often get emotionally drained. My husband and I have a running debate over how exhausting it can be to write. He figures you’re sitting at a computer how exhausting can it be. I know better. I know how exhausted I am.
I also identify with all my characters. Then again, if we tried I suppose we could find something to identify with most real life people too.
October 18th, 2001, 10:57 AM
What better way to disseminate one's opinions than through the characters of a novel or short story. Its a rather natural way to express yourself whether unknown or famous, and, like the Pharoahs who chipped hieroglyphs off steles after a coup or disaster, we can always deny that we meant anything by it by ascribing the words to the character. Rather ideal, don't you think?
October 18th, 2001, 01:37 PM
Actually, sometimes my characters do or say things that I'm 100% opposite... But it depends on the writer, I guess...
October 19th, 2001, 12:00 AM
Yes KATS, I don't seem to fit into any of the personality typing routines either, and I've checked quite a few of them out. The one I found that was most useful was the Enneagram...for inventing characters, that is. Personally I didn't fit the Enneagram system either.
The Enneagram has nine personality motives; Each numbered type moves when stressed or secure among the others in a pattern-coping triangle. You can also be a little of the type next door. So, all in all, there's 27 brands of personality styles you get to pick from as "your" type.
Think of the seven deadly sins and add a couple, then imagine how wise these sinners would be if they worked out their problems... and you sort of have the idea. ...A kind of graph where you can get a clue from others who were sort of like you how they dealt with being themselves. That's how it's supposed to be a spiritual self-knowledge study.
Without hesitation, I found it pretty useful for making up characters that weren't anything like me. Still, identifying with the character I make up happens to me anyhow.
Bardos - about your characters being diametric opposed to your own views - I don't find that strange. I see personal "hot" issues as if they were an axis swinging back and forth, but still two ends of the same stick. You deal with it roughly or with more sophistication.
For instance as in how a rebellious person thinks their only 2 choices are conform or rebel. Then later, they don't swing so wide, more subtle choices emerge as possible, and the fatalistic dualism collapses into a kind of prioritization of personal desires they learn to address. It's one of my ideas about how a character "matures."
October 19th, 2001, 01:03 AM
Can yoy explain more about the Enneagram, or give us a link?
[This message has been edited by Bardos (edited October 19, 2001).]
October 25th, 2001, 11:07 PM
Some fascinating ideas there An8el, and some good points about the maturing of characters. One of the great things about writing in these genres is that you are allowed an epic scope, and can therefore really show character development.
One point about the whole talking-to-yourself thing - we've all obviously heard that that's the first sign of insanity, so my question is: do we write because we're crazy/insane, or do we become insane through the process of writing? http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif
October 25th, 2001, 11:10 PM
October 26th, 2001, 04:18 PM
I think that journal writing originally made me insane, then again, I had to be crazy to experience those strange things when I was 13.
Here's some links on the Enneagram...
This is a nice one with two online tests, so you can do it yourself or impersonate your character and find out more of the character's style according to the enneagram... http://www.9types.com/
This one is more of an in-depth analysis...and it gets VERY complex:
(the free test is called RHETI, 36 questions. They sell a longer test, of course.) http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/home.asp
Everyone has something to say about the Enneagram, so there is almost endless stuff on the subject.
Anyway, from this you can get an idea about what it is and maybe what it's good for...
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