Thursday, June 25, 2009

Make-Believe Characters and Our Characters, Part 2

I recently purchased Jeff Gerke's e-book bundle called The Writer's Foundation, which includes How to Find Your Story (to help develop plots) and Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist (self-explanatory). The character creation tools make use of a book called Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, which has personality tests and information on the temperament types made famous by Myers-Briggs.

So far, this is a great help in developing more complex characters, but I've also found myself in Keirsey's pages. I took the test and turned out to be an Idealist (big surprise). One of the things that interested me most was this type's relation to story and characters.

Remember my recent post about how obsessed I became with TV and movie characters when I was young? And about the common thread I found in them--that all appeared to be ordinary folks but had some secret that made them larger than life? I wondered if that was a reflection of my desire to be discovered to be someone special, someone greater than the geeky kid I appeared to be.

Well, according to Keirsey, the Idealist's greatest desire is for recognition--not in the sense of gaining awards or commendations, but recognized for who they are as individuals. They want other people to look inside them and acknowledge what makes them unique.

There's a section on the four major temperament types as children. Here are some of the quotes about the Idealist child. "Idealist children want to be recognized as unique individuals...they often find themselves out of step with their classmates [and] take some comfort in feeling that they are like no one else, one of a kind, as if special or singled out."

And then Keirsey goes on to discuss their love of fantasy. "They are romantic in the sense that, as they look for their unique qualities, they are apt to identify with characters in stories...In elementary school, [Idealist] kids love stories of the medieval era, of knights and their ladies, of princes and princesses, of dragons and wizards."

Well, given my current Harry Potter fascination, I would say that doesn't end with elementary school. Although perhaps it should. Nah, it's too much fun.

But guess what? At the beginning of the series, Harry thinks he's just a downtrodden orphan, penniless and living off the scraps from his horrible relatives, the Dursleys. He always feels there's something different about himself but doesn't know what. Then he discovers not only that he has magical powers, but that in the wizarding world, he's famous! When he was just a baby, he was responsible for stopping the evil Lord Voldemort. He has a vault at the wizarding bank full of gold left to him by his parents. When he arrives at school, everyone has heard of him and his special story.

Sigh...obviously I haven't changed much over the years, have I?


  1. This is really interesting, Robin! I'm a lot like that, very romantic, and I've always LOVED fairy tales and medieval knights. I love the idea that a girl can grow up thinking she's a poor nobody and then find out she was a princess all along. I still love fairy tales.

  2. I keep hearing good things about Jeff Gehrke's book bundle. Is it digital or paper? I'm not too fond of reading a book on my computer screen.