Posts Tagged With: fiction

Creating Characters’ Personalities

Gretchn Rubin signing.jpg

Today  I met Gretchen Rubin, a New York Times bestselling author, as she celebrated her newest book release, The Four Tendencies. I hadn’t heard about Rubin before attending the event, but since I’m continuing to research personality characteristics to help my fictional characters come to life, Rubin’s book title intrigued me. In her talk, Rubin shared that her book, The Four Tendenciesfocuses less on specific personality types or temperaments, and more on an “expectations framework” – how a person responds to the inner and outer expectations placed upon them. Here’s how she breaks down these four characteristics:

GretchenRubin_SpkrA. Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations. They value authenticity and self-determination.

B. Questioners meet only inner expectations. They push back against and question all expectations. Above all, they do something only if they think it makes sense — they hate anything arbitrary.

C. Obligers meet outer expectations but not always inner ones. In other words, they usually need some form of external accountability.

D. Upholders generally meet both inner and outer expectations, meaning they don’t let others or themselves down.

Over the past few months, I’ve researched several personality/character indicators to get a feel for the positive and negative sides of typical thought and behavior patterns. This serves as a checklist to help me see if my fictional characters are acting true to their given natures (personality temperaments) that I’ve assigned them. It also provides me with an easy list of what their inherent weaknesses and strengths are. I can use their weakness to increase conflict and use their strengths to help them overcome their fears and conquer their problems and conflict – all while staying true to their assigned character traits, making them more believable as a real people.

1. Expectations Framework and the Four Personality Temperaments:  Rubin believes her Expectations Framework can float on top of any of the four personality temperaments, but having researched these personality types for the past several months, I can also see how they might link up with them. Sites I have explored included descriptions and self-quizzes, as one from Psychologia and, for ease of use, a personality type calculator. The four temperaments are said to influence appearance, thinking, behavior, and possibly even career choices. One site states that the “origins of this typology belong to Graeco-Arabic medicine where it was successfully used to treat illnesses.” These types were originally labeled:
A. Choleric (Rubin’s Rebel)
B. 
Melancholic (Rubin’s Questioners)
C.
Sanguine (Rubin’s Obligers)
D. Phlegmatic (Rubin’s Upholders)
To help our modern minds better grasp the distinctions between these four types, some descriptive names have been attached to these ancient Latin and Greek names by various researchers, authors and trainers. Several of these are explained below.

2. The Smalley Institute
As a writer, I found the Smalley Institute examination of temperaments most helpful because this assessment tool focuses on viewing personality types in terms of how they affect relationships, a very important element in developing fictional stories. Smalley also links animal images to each of the temperaments:

personality_test_Lion-Beaver_Otter_-Golden_Retriever.pngA. Choleric – Lion (bold)
B. Melancholic – Beaver (careful, busy worker)
C.
Sanguine – Otter (playful)
D. Phlegmatic – Golden Retriever (loyal)
The Smalley Institute also charts each style’s relational strength to illustrate how these strengths look when they get out of balance (for example, when a character experiences stress or conflict), as well as each type’s dominant communication style, relational needs, and the relational balance each type brings into a relationship. A download of the chart is available here.

3.  The Anatomy of Love – Dr. Helen Fisher
This site focuses on personality types through the lenses of relationships and work, typifying these four traits as:
A. Choleric – Director
B. Melancholic – Builder
C. Sanguine – Explorer
D. Phlegmatic – Negotiator

4. Jung and Myer Briggs
The Jung’s/Myer Briggs assessment focus on four personal preference opposites:
1) E/I: Extrovert, a preference for people and things vs.
     Introvert, a preference for ideas and information
2) S/N: Sensing, a preference for facts and reality vs.
intuitioN, with a preference for possibilities and potential
3) T/F: Thinking and feeling, with a preference to rely on logic and truth vs.
     Feeling, valuing relationship
4)  J/P: Judgment, a preference for a lifestyle that is well-structured vs.
     Perception, preferring a lifestyle that goes with the flow
Because the Myer Briggs assessment focuses on four personality type opposites, there are, in reality, sixteen types provided here.

ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ

To put Myer Briggs into the context of our four temperaments, however, we can break it down into these four generic categories:
A. Choleric – ENTJ
B. Melancholic – ISTJ
C.  Sanguine – ESFP
D.  Phlegmatic – INFP

5. DISC Assessments
The DISC personal assessment tool is often used by businesses to promote work productivity, teamwork, and communication. These types are labeled as:
D – Dominance, I – Influence, S – Steadiness, C – Conscientiousness (DISC). To keep the various assessments in line with the ones above, however, I will continue to put them in the same sequential order, rather than forming them into the DISC order:
A. Choleric – Dominance / D
B. Melancholic – Conscientiousness / C
C. Sanguine – Influence / I
D. Phlegmatic – Steadiness / S

4-Square-DISC.jpg

6. Business Training Model Based on DISC
The “Take Flight Learning company makes the DISC categories even more accessible by giving them better descriptive names, and ascribing each DISC type with a bird’s name:

A. Choleric -Dominant -Eagles / D
B. Melancholic – Conscientious -Owls / C
C. 
Sanguine – Interactive -Parrots / I
D. Phlegmatic – Supportive -Doves / S

BIRD_personality-styles.PNG

7. Entry Pointe Christian Profile Assessment
Christian writers might find the “Spiritual Office” assessment helpful for their writing genre.

8. Dressing Your Truth – Energy Profile
Carol Tuttle, author of Dressing Your Truth – Discover Your Type of Beauty, looks at the four temperaments as “energy types” and relates these to each types’ best clothing choice:
A. Choleric – Energy: hydrogen/fire  Movement: active, reactive  Clothing/Shapes: exotic, captivating, angular, textured, dynamic, edgy (a mistake for them to wear black colors)   Label: Type 3
B. Melancholic: Energy: carbon/earth  Movement: constant, still   Clothing/Shapes: elongated ovals with straight sides, parallel lines in any direction  Type: 4
C. Sanguine: Energy: nitrogen/air  Movement: up, light  Clothing/Shapes: colorful, festive/circles and points of a star  Label: Type 1
D. Phlegmatic: Energy: oxygen/water  Movement: fluid, flowing  Clothing/Shapes: comfortable clotheselongated S curves, ovals, softened rectangles  Label: Type 2

DISC_clothes.jpg

Four Temperaments – Labels at a Glance

A. Choleric – 1) Rebel 2) Lion 3) Director 4) ENTJ 5) DDominance 6) Dominant/Eagle 7) Prophet, Peter or Apostle, Paul  8) Energy: hydrogen/fire, Type 3

B. Melancholic – 1) Questioner  2) Beaver  3) Builder  4) ISTJ  5) Conscientious  6) Compliant/Owl  7) Teacher, Luke or Apostle, Paul  8)  Energy: carbon/earth, Type 4

C. Sanguine – 1) Obliger  2) Otter  3) Explorer  4) ESFP  5) I Interactive  6) Influencer/Parrot  7) Evangelist, Phillip or Apostle, Paul  8) Energy: nitrogen/air, Type 1

D. Phlegmatic – 1) Upholder  2) Retriever  3) Negotiator  4) INFP  5) S, Steadiness  6) Supportive/Dove  7) Pastor-Shepherd, John  8) Energy: Oxygen/water, Type 2

personality_test_Lion-Beaver_Otter_-Golden_Retriever.png

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: authors, books, Character Development, writing tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Silver Coin

PhoenicianShipBook 3 of the Ancient Elements series is now in its final editing stage! This ship is one of the illustrations in the book by my wonderful illustrator, Marsha Ottum Owen. The book’s cover art is still in the development stage.We hope to publish by the end of June, or early July. If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, use this contact form. I can hardly wait! A 6th grade teacher at Kennedy Middle School recently read an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) to her class and sent me their comments. A sampling of some of their comments is below.

 

SC_coin.jpg My class LOVED reading about Samsuluna’s adventures and as a teacher, I loved that there was so much about the civilizations woven throughout the narrative! – Ms. Yeung, 6th grade teacher

The Silver Coin will take you on a roller coaster of emotions with your adrenaline racing as you and the character merge to becomeone.— Mahati

Amazing end to the series of The Elements. Many twists and turns that keep you forever on your toes. — Will

The Silver Coin, the last book in the trilogy of the Ancient Elements series, is a great ending book. The plot has amazing twists and readers will really enjoy it. Dr. Sontag didn’t disappoint in any book, letting students learn while having fun at the same time.— Diya 

This final book to the Ancient Elements series is a mix of romance, adventure, surprise, and history all perfectly measured and combined into a single book.—Sophia

An epic conclusion to the Ancient Elements series, with tinges of romance woven into the gripping plot.—Victor

Mystery on top of mystery, an aching thirst kept me awake at night, dying for more.— Rachel

It kept the whole class on the edge of their seats the whole time. —Sophia

Educational yet thrilling, The Silver Coin thrills the reader with twists and turns all ending in one grand finale. A terrific ending to the tale of Samsuluna.—Nitin  

Dr. Sontag does an amazing job of entertaining the reader with a very intriguing plot with lively characters and devious plots, while also putting ancient civilizations into the mix, putting it all together to make a very intricate story of three perspectives slowly coming together in a spark of adventure. This finale, The Silver Coin, for the Ancient Elements series sure will grab you and won’t let you go.—Shreyas 

Exciting, gripping, and edgy are just a few of the words that can be used to describe The Silver Coin. Dr. Sontag perfectly combines and contrasts adventure and mystery in this stunning end to her thrilling trilogy. —Riya 

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Creating a Tagline

ImageOkay, I need your help. I was updating my Google profile, and found a space for “tagline.” New concept. Do I have a tagline? Should I? I researched Google “taglines” and here’s what I found.

As a writer, a tagline would help solidify my writing vision, and drive that vision for future books. According to writer and blogger Thomas A. Fowler, “Even if you don’t plan on using a tagline in your marketing, have one in the back of your mind to create consistent content in your approach.” Fowler’s tag line is, “Instill Hope.”

Author and blogger Jean Oram, says, “You read a good tagline and you immediately know what the author is about, what they write, the feeling you are going to get from their books and basically, exactly what you are in for.”

Robert Lee Brewer, an editor and content specialist, explains that a tagline, “defines who writers are to their target audience–to literary agents, editors, book buyers, and ultimately readers. That’s pretty important stuff. Second, a slogan defines who writers are to themselves. It might seem like common sense, but most writers can’t define themselves–especially in a way that explains their value–in fewer than 10 words. That’s why developing a slogan is a super important exercise.”

So I followed the advice of author Kristin Wallace and began to free-write as many words and phrases that described me as an author. Then I picked out my favorite ones and tried several variations. When Wallace tried this, she came up with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. Wallace explains, “Those words are what my books are about. They have romance, lots of laughs and a spiritual element that isn’t too heavy-handed.”

My first attempt harvested, “Awakening Dreams of Adventure”. I write historical fiction, awakening past events so young readers in the present can experience and learn from the past in an adventurous way. I also came up with “Bringing the Past to Life”. Emotionally, I like what the first tagline does for me. Cognitively, the second one seems more obvious. What do you think? Any ideas?

Categories: book marketing, books, brand, brand statement, branding, taglines | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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That Ranch Life

A Donkumentary of City-Turned-Country Livin'

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"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

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"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

marsha ottum owen

I make Children's Books

Under His Wings

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Cathleen Armstrong

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

A Writer's Diary

Author, Educator, Consultant

That Ranch Life

A Donkumentary of City-Turned-Country Livin'

Blissful Scribbles

Musings through the journey of writing my first novel

ACFW - DFW CHAPTER a.k.a. DFW Ready Writers

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Bay Area Writing Group

Northern California Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers

Letters to Noah

Spoken words are fleeting, but written words last beyond a lifetime.

Sontag Writing Dreams

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

marsha ottum owen

I make Children's Books

Under His Wings

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Cathleen Armstrong

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

A Writer's Diary

Author, Educator, Consultant