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The Search for the Hero

Female Heroes

America's obsession with the hero has become annoying for writers and fans alike. Most of the problems with this obsession are desire for a wider range of stories or putting too heavy a stamp on other characters who do not fit the archetype. Many confuse action stars with heroes and want their trickers to be more "emotionally available." The hero is a kind of story archetype, a spiritual archetype, and a personality type. Here is an exploration of the hero and the mis-matches and what they say about sociiety.  READ MORE:

Personality Maps and Character Motivations


Personality maps are useful to the writer who cannot or should not write about their own personality. My personality is not popular, meaning that most people do not have my sort of emotional/mental core. Of course I have traits in common with others, but to write a popular story I cannot say, "how would I feel?" "what would I do?" and have any hope of reader connection. So, like people who are nerdy, I have had to learn what motivates other people. What personality maps can do is to broaden your understanding of how and why people do what they do.

I stress that it is important to learn more than one map. Something vague like the astrology maps don't seem to be good enough to use for characterization. However, something that is also funky, but based on observation may work just fine. One of the best personality maps for creating characters is the Enneagram, which is not so good at using on people. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is good for learning how people function in the workplace, but is not so good when studying character. Stories are about stress, so a stress map like the Enneagram, which is loosely based on the seven deadly sins, is a good map for creating character.  READ MORE:

Visualizing and Shortcuts to Visual Descriptions


I'm an illustrator, so I can work up my own characters and I have had more success in drawing emotions than in writing about them. Like Virginia Woolf, my overall personality tends to affect the world such that the characters take second place. Most writers are not artists and have a terrible time telling illustrators what their characters look like. For a writer, a character has a feeling, not necessarily a look. However, the best writers often tell us very clearly how someone looks in unconventional ways. Just as there is a shorthand in drawing, there are shortcuts to visualize a character that work better than having them look into a mirror and say "I have short brown hair and brown eyes."

Our brains have evolved to read faces and to stamp personality on faces. The victorians took this to extreme, but there are popular personality faces as well as types. The Americans like an "anvil" chin in their heroic types and do not care about the nose or eyebrows. The British like cheekbones and nose more than the chin for their heroic types. They are more sensitive to color than Americans, who are rather blunt about it. Stereotypes need to be avoided so that the reader is not jerked out of the story by some politically incorrect description or something whacky or stereotyped.  READ MORE:

© 2018, A.R. Stone