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Enneagrams

11 Oct

Enneagrams are great tools to help you with characterization. They’re ready
made for everything you need to know about your character. Don’t worry that
there are only nine types on the list. (1) The Reformer (Perfectionist), (2) The
Helper (Giver), (3)The Achiever (Performer), (4)The Individualist (Tragic
Romantic), (5)The Investigator (Observer), (6)The Loyalist (Loyal Skeptic), (7)
The Enthusiast (Epicure), (8) The Challenger (Protector), and (9) The
Peacemaker (Mediator).

You can shape each character to have exactly the strengths
and weaknesses you need for your story. Each personality on the scale has a corresponding
Enneagram that caused that person stress or growth. For example, The
Reformer/Perfectionist. The Enneagram that causes R/P stress is the
Individualist/Tragic Romantic. If you go to the I/TR, you’ll find that it’s the
Reformer that causes the Individualist to grow. Conflict. The Enneagram that
causes the Reformer to grow is the Enthusiast/Epicure. And if you go to the
Enthusiast, you’ll find that the Reformer is the character that will cause them
to grow.

It’s a pull and shove relationship among all types. There is
a fairly good table  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritype.
For example, for the Reformer it gives:

Ego fixation
– Resentment, Holy idea – Perfection, Basic fear – Corruptness, evil, Basic
desire – Goodness, integrity, balance, Temptation – hypocrisy, hypercriticism, Vice/Passion
– Anger, Virtue – Right action, they find stress in the
Individualist and security in the Enthusiast. Very useful.

The information I’ve collected over the years gives check
lists that you can use to mold your characters. I’ll show you step by step.
We’ll use the Reformer because he’s first.

Basic
Fear:
Of being corrupt/evil, defective

Basic
Desire:
To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced

Fatal
Flaw:
Anger

World
View:
The world is an imperfect place. I work toward improvement.

Wake Up Call: Awareness of
feeling a sense of personal obligation to fix everything themselves so that
they can rise to a profound acceptance of and genuine tolerance for reality.

NOTE
– Here’s where you begin molding your character. I left only the parts that I
wanted to include for this person.

At
their Best: Knows the best action to take in each moment. Humane,
hopeful.

At
their worst:
Overly serious.

Personality Disorders: Unpredictable,
testy.

Key Motivations: Motivated by the need to live their life the right
way, improving the world around them.

Basic Proposition: There is a
right way and a wrong way to do everything.

Relationships:

What they look for: equality.

What gets in the way: Insists on being
right.

Manipulates by correcting others by
playing on their sense of guilt and inadequacy.

What “Perfectionists”
tell us about themselves:

They
live with a powerful inner critic that monitors every thought, word, and deed;

They
worry about getting things right and are unusually sensitive to criticism;

They
strive for perfection and feel responsible;

“Perfectionists”
also report a focus on being good and
repress their impulses/desires for pleasure;

They
can be rigid, overly controlled, seeing virtue as its own reward.

Expanded Profile:

Healthy:

Level 1: Trusting of
self and others. Belief in self leads to true courage.

Level 2: Very appealing,
endearing, lovable, affectionate.

Level 3: Dedicated to
individuals and movements in which they deeply believe.

Average:

Level 4: Constantly
vigilant, anticipating problems.

Level 5: Internal
confusion makes them react unpredictably.

Level 6: To Divides
people into friends and enemies.

Unhealthy: (be careful of
this section. You can make your character un-heroic…unless he’s the vilian.)

Level 7: Fearing they’ve
ruined their security, they become volatile.

Level 8: These
last two are very over the top.

Examples: Mahatma Gandhi,
Martha Stewart,
Harrison Ford,
George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Thatcher,
Rudolph Guliani,
The “Church Lady” (
Saturday Night Live), and “Mr. Spock” (Star Trek).

 

There’s a great deal
more, but this gives you an idea how valuable Enneagrams can be to
characterization.

These websites can
help: Test – http://www.9types.com/rheti/index.php
http://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/introduction.php

 
14 Comments

Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Idaho

 

Tags: ,

14 responses to “Enneagrams

  1. Carley Ash

    October 11, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    I’d heard a lot about enneagram, but hadn’t looked into them. This is fascinating. Thanks.

     
    • Peggy Staggs

      October 11, 2011 at 7:26 AM

      They are a very useful tool. I’m glad I found out about them.

       
  2. Janis McCurry

    October 11, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    I use them at the beginning of my prep work to get a handle on GMC. Sometimes, my characters decide they’re not like that as I write. SIGH.

     
    • Peggy Staggs

      October 11, 2011 at 7:26 AM

      Those darn characters, they are always going off on their own.

       
  3. Liz Fredericks

    October 11, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Thanks for the reminder on enneagrams, Peggy. Reviewing the description is a good way to move past a sticky point with your character or in your plot.

     
    • Peggy Staggs

      October 11, 2011 at 7:31 AM

      I agree. It’s nice to have a set of character traits to refer back to. It sparks new ideas and helps keep you on track so your people don’t go off and do something out of character.

       
  4. Meredith Conner

    October 11, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    The psychology behind people – especially our own characters – is fascinating. Thanks for showing this Peggy.

     
    • Peggy Staggs

      October 11, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      You’re welcome. I’m always hunting for helps with characterization.

       
  5. Sharla Lovelace

    October 11, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Does me absolutely no good to plan anything for my characters. Two sentences in, and they tell me differently. LOL.

     
  6. Peggy Staggs

    October 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    They will do that. It keeps me on track to have guidelines to refer to. But in the end it’s what works for you. Good luck.

     
  7. Mary Vine

    October 11, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Thanks for all your work, Peggy. Good frame work for a story.

     
    • Peggy Staggs

      October 12, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      Framework is important to a well-constructed story. Anything that makes that easier I’m all for.

       
  8. Lynn Mapp

    October 11, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    You know I love using enneagrams. They help give my characters structure.

     
  9. Peggy Staggs

    October 12, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    I know you do. You’re the queen of enneagrams.

     

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