Dreaming up unique characters to populate my story, isn’t always as easy as it sounds. The first couple of times I tried it, I used templates and suggestions from writing books. They offered up questions about what kind of furniture this person would have, and what they would eat for breakfast. There were suggestions that pictures clipped from magazines can be the basis for a character profile. I bought books on personality types and studied Joe Campbell’s characterizations of good guys and bad guys. There’s a terrific website I just became aware of, called Pitch University ( http://www.pitch-university.com/ ) that suggests imagining movie stars in your character’s roles. None of these things work for me on the internal level like horoscopes and numerology.
Oh, I hear you groaning all the way across the internet. Bear with me a minute. Horoscopes have personality traits assigned to each astrological sign. I’ve got a couple of great general horoscope books that describe the positive and negative aspects for each of the sun signs. Numerology charts do the same thing for the numbers 1-9. It’s a great starting point, and you can mix and match these descriptive traits in infinite combinations. I don’t even have to think this stuff up; how cool is that?
For example, maybe I want to create a new character. Her birthday is today. Hmm. That makes her a Capricorn. I go to my friendly little horoscope and look up character traits for Capricorn. Any book will do, really. The book I’m looking at says that Capricorn is reserved, patient, and uses brains rather than brawn to get what they want. Oooh, sounds interesting. Is this character good or bad? Hmm. Positive traits are that they’re kind, fair, and witty. It also says they can be suspicious loners. I can use these traits as suggestions to create a character that encompasses both these characteristics. Let’s say that just for fun, we make this character female. Whether she’s a hero or villain, I will make sure to show both aspects of her nature, and the horoscope gives me a great starting place. Sure, pictures from magazines work also, but now I’m building a character from the inside out, versus the outside in.
Numerology books also characterize people bases on various numbers. For example, a person characterized with a ‘5’ profile might be characterized as sparkling, fashionable, attractive person who likes movement, such as dancing. It is also characterized as someone who may have trouble with stability or responsibility; a person for whom chaos can be a life choice.
If I combine the numerology characteristics and the astrological characteristics into this character I am brainstorming, I start to see her take flesh. Maybe she’s a prima ballerina; a diva. Maybe she’s a voodoo priestess. Whatever she is, she’s already complex enough to be interesting. I want to know more about her. That’s what makes good characters.