Defining the Character Types In a Story

What is somebody’s disposition, and how does it change?

I was having a conversation last night with a fellow writer, and in walks his roommate. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know we were working on becoming co-writers of a book. Additionally I failed to communicate properly, which if you read my blog you know that I’m a bit socially retarded, so it wasn’t a surprise.

We were discussing how to judge people properly, and that pride with greed go together depending on personality types. The judgement angle might have been what turned him around, but I didn’t know so I tried my best to help him understand where I was coming from by saying, “I like you, but if I was going to write you into a book, I’d judge you with my best attempt at objectivity.”

Maybe he didn’t like the idea of being the object of my judgement, as I started in on his lifestyle and what I could look at to define him. I probably should have let him debate the idea of becoming a character in a book, before launching into verbally writing it in a brainstorm, and I felt bad that he left in a hurry seeking water.

This moment was a beautiful example of why I love this place to write. People here enjoy the peace of mind found in sharing perceptions that build each other up, and I found that same feeling when I shared with my co-author. He’s a blogger too, which probably helps him receive constructive criticism, and we laughed together about this, which to me solidified our collective effort to define personalities.

My first attempt to formally develop character types for fiction:

From role-playing games when I was a kid, I remember the process of developing a character to play. We’d roll a ten-sided-die twice and choose from a scale of dispositions:

Diabolical(100-81), Aberrant(80-61), Anarchist(60-41), Scrupulous(40-21), and Altruist(20-0)

The scale was an interesting way to approach personality, and I found that the higher or lower you picked, the less flexibility of choice you had to get “playing in character bonuses”. My favorite “experience points” to earn(this is how you gained character strength), were called “deductive reasoning and or insight”. This is why I love to put question marks where they don’t belong?

The funny thing to me about intelligence, is that it fits into this paradigm for me. In my experience the smartest and least intelligent experiences I’ve had, shrink my options towards contentment. The closer I get to accepting I’m not better or worse, the happier I am.

Editing this now for the sake of grace(I am talking about judgement here, so please take a deep breath and recognize that to me it’s synonymous with definition, and I prefer the thesaurus), I’m realizing that maybe this is why my philosophical approach to imagination is getting me into trouble with people’s comfort zones.

Maybe most people want a clearly defined sentence. They want to know, and are not comfortable with a question mark on identity, because it might imply an unreliable narrator? Is this why I’m pursuing the goal of promoting imagination in education?  Is teaching and learning how to think more important to me, than finding the answers?  In my experience learning how to judge myself more gracefully, builds my self-esteem, mental health,  and confidence.

From an oblique spiritual perspective(non-religious/scientific/creative) I would say that the scale fits gradients of selfishness, as the lowest numbers would be most generous. Pride and shame would be higher while humble would be lower. Hate would be high, while love and compassion would be lower. Nihilism would be highest followed by Materialism, Pragmatism, Utilitarianism, and finally Spiritualism?

Since this is all theory, let’s put it to a test. I’m seeking to help another writer and myself, which would imply a combination of selfish and generous within the gospel of Pragmatism and Utilitarianism, as a teacher/student. I’m concerned that sharing these perceptions with pride wouldn’t help my creative juices, so I’m doing my best to remain objective and humble, as identity is part of well-being, and I hope to maintain my spiritual health. How can I remain objective? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. There. I feel better.

Since I’m talking about character class, I’ve worked myself up to socioeconomic status. What does money do for me? It gives me power in materialism, and allows me to get what I want in selfish ways easier. At the same time it allows me to be generous, so its a matter of choice.  What does lack of money do for me? It makes me wish I was a saint. Most of us are somewhere in between having no money, and having too much.

Since books and life in general consistently have heroes vs villains, and most people compare themselves to these polarized opposites when they question identity, I better address it for the sake of character type definition. It comes down to personal perceptions of good vs evil.

The things that I consistently battle with in my goals towards imaginative thought, are the cultural constructs around perceptions of work and play. Is working in your mind as valuable as working with your body? If what you produce is immaterial like this article, is it justifiable as work? If I love doing it and see it as play, can it still be work in your mind?  If I don’t make money at it, will you call me a professional volunteer, a fool, crazy, or eccentric?

Buckminister Fuller helps me feel good about this dilemma with an idea I love to share:
“I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing–a noun. I seem to be a verb.” On that note his quote about work brought me happiness the other day, when I was doubting my goals and identity as a blogger and scholar:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

Since character development is such an important part of plot, think of this blog as my dream of how I can have a happy ending.  Each article is a moment in my process as a Student/Teacher/Blogger/Artist/Builder/Executive Director, and Friend who loves to write.  With each letter I type, and each thought I share, my understanding of this art grows.  I might get knocked down by a rule, and your encouragement helps me get back up, and attempt to figure out why.

Toys are tools, and work is play.  This is an instrument that does both.  If you are reading for the first time on this blog, welcome to the definition of myself that will never change:  I am in flux and content to ask questions for the sake of TATWIP goals.  If you have questions or answers, feel free to give me some of your thoughts below.  Thanks for reading.

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