Thursday, April 28, 2011

Character building tools for writers | Astrological signs

How do you create a character out of thin air? Whether it's a Protagonist, Antagonist or sidekick, here's a method I've used for putting some 'meat on the bones' of my characters. I'll be reviewing two awesome tools, both astrological sites.

The first, Star Signs Explained, is generously laden with character traits for each sign. It's strictly an astrological site, but it is rich with detail to spark a writer's imagination. Here's a small example for Aries, who seems just built for the protagonist's role.

Aries are fire signs and those born under this element are regarded in astrology as adventurous, active and outgoing. It won't matter where you go or how remote or unusual it is - from the Outback to the Antarctic - you can be sure that an Aries has been there before you (or at the very least you will meet one along the way!) Aries is a uniquely naive sign. Although they are independent, outgoing and assertive they are also surprisingly trusting, often innocently walking into the lion's den at times. No matter what upheaval, challenge or triumph they confront - an Aries has a wonderful ability to bounce back.

But what if your Protag is a Pisces? There are a lot of possibilities with a character like this as well.

Mysterious and alluring individuals, most Pisces are extremely talented, but even though they are gifted in many ways, they still manage to spend most of their lives battling "confusing" conditions. Pisces is the sign symbolized by the image of two fish. Their symbol depicts one fish heading upward, the other pulling downward. This mirrors how Pisceans are frequently torn between two pathways in life, or actually do live two very different existences at the same time.
Star Signs Explained also includes each sign's ruling planet, earth element, stones, energy vibrations, secret life desires which give additional fodder for your story. Beware. This site is run by someone named Athena Starwoman and there's flashing signs next to Jenni and Lily who would dearly love to give you a psychic reading.

Just so you know, I've never called. Heck, I don't even believe in checking out my astrology for the day. But as a writer, I love this as a tool for character building.


Now that you've got your characters, how about the relationship between them? Check out Compatibility of the signs of the Zodiac to see how people with different habits and characters affect each other? Who will be the leader? Which parts of their personalities will help to develop relationship and which will resist it?

How great is this? I mean, what more could you ask for in a character building tool? It's fun and it's free-- that is, if you can resist calling Jenni. :-)


Tool rating for Star Signs explained: 4 stars (the flashing psychic hotline is a little distracting which keeps it from getting a 5)

Tool rating for Compatibility of Zodiac signs: 4.5 stars (I like how you can choose compatibilities of either love interest or business relationships; flashing psychic hotline stuff not quite as obtrusive)


Have you ever used astrological signs for character building? Do you have any character building tools or methods you'd like to share?

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  1. Oh knowing my characters astrological signs is a must!! I think Linda Goodman's Love Signs is a bible for me for knowing compatabilities and character traits when it comes to their astrology.

    Have you tried these freebie online stuff for name compatability? That's quite fun! Take care

  2. I remember Linda Goodman's Love Signs. What a classic! Yes, the name generators are fun tools. Maybe I'll review some of those too.

  3. This is the first blog post I've ever seen about utilizing astrology with our characters! So I give you kudos! I always created my characters knowing their astrological signs, but over the years, I've learned not to let it restrict me. Now, as of my last two story ideas, I've let the character take shape in the first chapter or two before I decide on a sign for him/her. If I chose a sign for a character, I began basing everything back to his/her chart and it just involved so much more research and restrictions -- not to say that I didn't enjoy the research!

    But anyways, it's definitely good to use as a guideline for a character but don't let it repress or hinder the character!

  4. Jessica: Thank you for your follow up post. You made some really good points about not letting astrological signs becoming restrictive. It is only one of many tools to use as a springboard of ideas.

    Like you, I would develop the character first and let him/her play out a little and then see what sign was the closest; then comb it for tidbits to spice things up.

  5. Now that's a unique and clever way to build character! Very cool.

  6. This is such a great post. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing.



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