Monday, August 27, 2012

Traits and Personalities for Creating Your Characters

One of my favorite books for developing character personalities and traits is Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus.

She describes four basic personalities - Choleric, Phlegmatic, Sanguine, and Melancholy.

I also discovered The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman. He describes the four birth orders - oldest, middle, youngest, and only.

After reading both books, I realized that the four personalities lined up with the four birth orders:

Choleric - oldest
Phlegmatic - middle
Sanguine - youngest
Melancholy - only

Florence lists some of these strengths and weaknesses for the four personalities:

Choleric - powerful, persuasive, forceful, leader, productive, unsympathetic, proud, workaholic, stubborn, intolerant

Phlegmatic - peaceful, reserved, friendly, consistent, listener, balanced, indecisive, nonchalant, worrier, slow, compromising

Sanguine - popular, playful, spontaneous, cheerful, demonstrative, talker, brassy, forgetful, naïve, disorganized, restless

Melancholy - perfect, self-sacrificing, scheduled, deep, loyal, resentful, insecure, moody, critical, withdrawn

She also notes that Cholerics and Sanguines tend to be extroverts and Phlegmatics and Melancholies tend to be introverted. Cholerics and Phlegmatics are also unemotional while Sanguines and Melancholies are emotional. A person can be a mix of two personalities, too. (I’m an only child but the youngest of my cousins, so I am a melancholy-sanguine mix.)

There are many personality charts, and this one isn’t always set in stone as to how the personalities line up. But it does give one a good base from which to start.

From the list, can you determine either your personality or that of your characters?

32 comments:

Susan Roebuck said...

I like posts like this :-) I can never be choleric - I'm not any of the characteristics mentioned. But I'm a bit of all other three. But if I have to choose one, then it's sanguine.

Clarissa Draper said...

I am a Cholerics and it really describes me to a tee except I'm not an extrovert.

shelly said...

I'm an older child. When I was little, I was an introvert. Today, I'm a little aloof but I can also be chatty. I'm a hairdresser.

Excellent post!

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

http://www.shellysnovicewritings.blogspot.com/

http://secondhandshoesnovel.blogspot.com/

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Might have to get that book.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Cool stuff. I have a similar book, but it refers to the four personality types as colors.

Karen Walker said...

Very cool, Diane. I love things like this.
Karen

Chris Fries said...

Well, I'm an only, so I guess I'm one of those dogs that help herd cantaloupes:

A melon-collie... ;^)

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Now these sound like my kind of books. Fantastic!

Johanna Garth said...

I love personality charts and I tend to be sanguine.

Arlee Bird said...

I recall reading about this somewhere some time ago--in college maybe. I'd forgotten about this. It's a good reminder for something to consider when developing characters.


Lee
Wrote By Rote

Heather Murphy said...

These descriptions are so true! I'm the oldes and very choleric

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Chris - LOL!

michelle said...

The book sounds like a great resource... a must-have...

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think my characters line up better with this than I do. Though the description of oldest is really like my oldest son.

Gina Gao said...

I really liked reading this post. Thanks for sharing.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Melissa Bradley said...

These are good starting points for character building. Great post!

Jo said...

As an only child, I have no idea where I would fit it. Something of a mix I would guess.

Gossip_Grl said...

I am the oldest child and can see I fit so many of those traits. :) Great posting definitely enjoyed reading!

LD Masterson said...

I haven't started thinking about how to use this on my characters, I'm still marveling on how well it fits my kids!

Southpaw said...

It's kind of interesting that these books (which are kind of self-help-self-knowledge books) help so much with our writing!

Jai Joshi said...

How interesting! I'm the youngest and even as you were first saying the four personality types I figured I was sanguine. I think this stuff makes sense.

Jai

Karen Lange said...

I took part in a study with Littauer's book years ago but had forgotten a lot about them. I think it's a great help to look at and create our characters with this in mind. I need to dig out my notes. Thanks for the reminder and info!

M Pax said...

Phlegmatic definitely fits me, but not my sister. And sanguine doesn't fit my younger brother at all.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LD - LOL! I'm always analyzing people now.

Karen, you need to find those notes.

Cynthia said...

What an interesting post... I can see myself being a little of each of those types, depending on my mood and circumstances.

Stephen Tremp said...

Maybe I'm a multiple as I share many of these traits. That would explain a lot of things.

Stephen Tremp said...

That would make me a Chlgmaguincholic.

Talli Roland said...

Oh, yikes! I'm a little scared now. Self-analysis always freaks me out.

Lydia Kang said...

Is it possible to be a combination? I'm a bit of all of the last three!

Ciara said...

Great way to start character building. I'm thinking I'm blending here, just like my genres.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm the oldest of two. I think I fit most of those traits, but sangine is not my sister at all...

It's interesting though - another way to give life to characters.

Sherry Ellis said...

Interesting post! It's funny how birth order affects personality. These characteristics certainly hold true for myself and my children.