So… Let’s meet a character

So now that you’ve seen a lot of the possibilities, the question then becomes: so what? How does this help me?

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I’ve dabbled in some creative writing over the past few years, it’s not my forte (writing) but what I really enjoy is developing plots and understanding characters. I’ve “helped” a good friend of mine with a story of his and driven him crazy with questions like “why is [this character] doing this?” and “does it make sense that [she] would react that way?” Characters are beautiful when they’re consistent and they’re amazing when they break the rules. When they’re not awesome is when they act out of character. I think this is why I like the Enneagram. Because it allows for so much creativity without boxing you in. If you feel the Enneagram is pigeon-holing your character you might be focusing too much on the timeline and not enough on your character.

My biggest creative writing project to date was a modern-day young adult fantasy thriller (or at least I’d intended it to be haha). It had cool plot lines, fun twists, interesting back stories, and characters I spent a lot of time trying to describe in detail.

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Since none of you are likely going to read it I don’t mind spoiling a little of it for you. The story was about three brothers who uncover this crime ring centered around this big, yet hidden, supernatural set of abilities (I can hear many of you who know me smiling in unsurprised amusement…)

When I started the story my favorite character was the ambitious, strategic, competitive, driven brother. He is controlling and dominant and embodies probably everything you’d expect from a 3w4. He is textbook: layers his personality with masks, overachieves at everything, makes risky moves to win, and has everything to prove both to himself and to the world around him. The villain is much the same way except probably more of an 8w7 (fear of being controlled or manipulated, amassing power and followers, breaking the rules to advance himself forward, etc.).

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The more I wrote, however, the more I realized that this one brother just wasn’t coming up a lot. He’s predictable and a key player in the plot but he isn’t… electric… isn’t relatable or sympathetic enough. What I began to notice was that I was spending far more time following the storyline of another brother. He is probably an 9w8 (peacemaker, always up for an adventure with his two other driven brothers but mostly plays the role of mediator and just enjoys life). This character is likable and reacts to the world around him like many of us would. He’s cool and drives a motorcycle and isn’t tightly wound. He’s up for risk and adventure and even willing to break the rules a little bit.

This character dominates a good portion of the middle of the story and as I plowed through this portion I realized: this is the character I want to watch, this is the guy I want to see win.

9’s disintegrate to 6’s so I began to throw in scenes where he gets disconnected from people, where he is genuinely afraid. 9’s highly value “Engagement” and connection and taking this element away from the 9 forces the character to figure out what they’ll do in the face of tension and conflict.

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What we wanted to see was the 9, all alone, deciding to fight for what’s right, what will restore peace (probably by taking down the villain) and to see if he’ll eventually reconnect with those whom he loves and considers his tribe. If he’s truly helpful, he can begin to show some personal ambition (which he does) and stands up to stronger characters and recruiting them to his cause instead of just going along with theirs.

I even gave him a love interest, a 1w2 (which is a common pairing with a 9) who has a strong sense of justice, fights for the underdog, and is unfazed with the idea of sacrifice and martyrdom. Together they balance each other out fighting for their own goals (which become intertwined) and developing a strong appreciation for their desire to fight for people and righteousness.

As a 3 myself, I had intended to write a story where someone like me is the hero (after all, what better inspiration than a character I understand?) But this story just didn’t work with a 3 at the helm (nor his other brother, a broken “2”). I could have fought it, but when I let the character show me who they were, they were far richer than if I’d forced them to be someone they weren’t.

What I learned through this exercise is: dream up your scenario, then figure out who your character is by how they react to that situation. Protagonists need to go on some kind of journey to be compelling (they can go unhealthy as the story progresses, that’s a perfectly legitimate story arc) so let them go on that journey. Once you understand what that journey is, you can craft obstacles, villains, even personal fears to help them get vulnerable and move toward their intended end.

Type 8 | The Challenger

TYPE 8

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Lust to Mercy

Belief: There’s something wrong with the world and everyone needs to start moving the same direction to fix it.

Deepest Fear: Being harmed, controlled, or manipulated.

Deepest Desire: Self-protection, freedom.

How they see/justify their sin: If I can see how things can be better in the world, it’s my obligation to do something about it.

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Overview 

The 8 is the part of our personality that strives for freedom. Revolutionaries throughout history have been 8’s. These are the individuals who have challenged the status quo and rallied the people toward fighting the powers that be. 8’s have the ability to see the world, instinctively see all its shortcomings, and help point everyone in the same direction to fix it. Now, it doesn’t have to be a moral issue (social justice, humanitarian, greater good even). It can be any topic.

When we say the signature sin of the 8 is “lust” we aren’t talking about sexual longing, we’re talking about “Power.” An 8 that is unhealthy is grasping for power either because they feel stress that the power has been taken away from them, withheld from them, or is being denied them. While 8’s often don’t have qualms about confrontation, conflict, or righting a wrong, if they can’t resolve the tension of the issue at hand they can, in their unhealthy state, start to rally other people against their antagonist or begin to right other wrongs in their life with renewed vigor.

But 8’s can move toward health and start to display the virtue of “Mercy.” Mercy toward themselves, toward their authority figures, and toward those they see underperforming around them. The decision point they reach is: what do I do with my opinions/beliefs about people, their actions, and the world around them? Can I give people a break? Can I celebrate people’s journeys and allow them to make their own decisions even if I disagree?

8 wing 7 | Tony Stark, Iron Man

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The eccentric genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist that is Tony Stark is an example of an 8w7. Tony has strong belief in how he sees the world and how pretty much everyone around him is inferior and incompetent. He doesn’t accept objects that are handed to him, mocks governmental hearings that are attempting to place boundaries on his work, and has the classic 8 response when Captain America poses him with an ethical dilemma: “Are you the guy to take the fall, lie on the wire so the other guy can crawl over you?” Tony Stark’s snarky response is: “why not just cut the wire?” 8’s hate feeling trapped.

This specific type (8w7) is called “The Entertainer.” Tony’s 7 wing is over-the-top in his parties, his greed (Pepper Potts says “I think [the painting] is incredibly overpriced.” Tony says “I have to have it, buy it.”), and his womanizing. We see Tony start to go toward his healthy 2 integration and show some virtuous “Humility.” He starts to see people compassionately (consider the young boy in Iron Man 3 or Peter Parker in the most recent Spiderman: Homecoming) and offers assistance instead of judgment.

8 wing 9 | George Banks, Mary Poppins

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One of the misconceptions about Mary Poppins is that Mary is (wow, it’s weird not to say her name as a whole phrase “Mary Poppins”) the protagonist of the story. In fact, the kids aren’t really even the leads in this story, they more or less simply participate in the various antics of the story (maybe learning a bit about compassion and generosity with the woman who feeds the birds at the cathedral). But it’s George Banks who goes through the most radical transformation.

At the beginning of the story we see a hardened, uncompassionate, elitist father who is fed up with the incompetence of the people around him. His wife can’t hire a good nanny, his housekeeper can’t follow simple directions about letting one interviewee in at a time, his children can’t heel/toe, the operator is incompetent (asking him for the police’s phone number, “no I do NOT know the number!” he screams into the phone), and even perfect Mary Poppins promises to fail his (low) expectations somehow.

But George isn’t interested in pleasure, he simply wants peace (his 9 wing). He wants (as he sings in one of his opening songs) “I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife, with a firm but gentle hand, no ‘bless you’ please.” He wants control of his world, but he simply wants it to operate like a well-oiled machine and stop bothering him.

It’s the end of his journey where he drops his iron grasp on his perfect life, really looks at his wife and children for perhaps the first time in his life and does something a truly merciful, compassionate father would do: he goes and does something what his kids have wanted all along: flying a kite.

Integration Lines

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We’ve illustrated the healthy integration of the 8: the move toward “Mercy” and “Humility.” It’s not accepting actual oppression, manipulation, or control, it’s looking at anything the 8 finds inferior or inept through the lens of grace, serenity, and patience.

On the other end of the spectrum the unhealthy 8 who fails to procure followship, feels unheard, unheeded, rejected, or isolated will withdraw into the “Greed” of the 5. There’s a sense of “I’m taking my ball and going home” that they begin to hoard their resources, their “wisdom” (opinions), and their emotional reserves until they’re noticed again. At their worst, 8’s can be guilt machines, will never allow themselves to be put in the hot seat without taking someone down with them, notorious gaslighters, and critical. At their best they can be inspirational, winsome, forthright, and committed to bettering the world around them.

Character Coaching

Quite a few protagonist 8’s of late have been young lead women: Beca, Pitch Perfect and Tris, Divergent for example. But 8’s actually make up the vast majority of villains in literature, TV, and movies. The tendency for unhealthy 8’s to dominate, control, and condescend makes them easy to script and represent.

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Consider the quintessential unhealthy 8 villain: Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada. She’s elitist, opinionated, and actually has all the power. She negotiates aggressively, blackmails, insults, and has created an entire culture that operates to her outrageously high standard of excellence. Only it’s never to her satisfaction. She keeps everyone around her in a full state of panic by criticizes even jobs well done. Her art director, Nigel, even explains to sweet, innocent Andrea: “her opinion is the only one that counts.”

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The 8-2 combination between Miranda and Andrea is a great set up for disaster. Andrea kills herself trying to help the impossible-to-please Miranda (while trying to differentiate and individuate herself by integrating to her healthy “4”) and Miranda takes Andrea under her wing and exploits her like shooting fish in a barrel. We never see Miranda’s integration to health, in fact, she stays in her greedy “5” the entire movie without remorse.

What we’re hoping happens to our 8, however, is the development of compassion and humility. They can change the world healthy or unhealthy. What we hope to see is an 8 who uses their natural abilities for good.

Considerations

8’s are strong characters. They are vocal, strong, decisive, and often people of great conviction. Give your 8 any cause whatsoever and they’ll own it. They’re not scared of powerful people, in fact they can find it stimulating to have someone oppressive to duel with.

Because of 8’s strong commitment to not being controlled, they’ll often live by their own set of rules (unlike the 1). It might even look like “breaking” the conventional rules. When caught or penalized by the normal consequences of violating convention they’re unlikely to feel any remorse, attack any hypocrisy (or deflect by exposing someone elses sin), and/or rally their followers to defend their actions or protest the rule they deem ridiculous.

8’s can work well with strong types such as 1’s, and 6’s. 9’s might actually be better companions for 8’s than 2’s. 2’s, 3’s, and 5’s are likely to be dysfunctional pairing for the 8 as they will work their tails off to win the 8’s favor (which the 8 will have a hard time not taking advantage of). 7’s and 4’s are hit or miss, they’ll do well if healthy, but poorly if not.

Remember that 8’s aren’t all evil. In our modern age of storytelling, every character needs relatable humanization so no matter where a protagonist begins their upward journey or in what state we meet the villain, give them something to humanize them. Even better: give them a cause to champion and you’ll see a tenacity unlike any other type.

Additional Examples

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Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter

Captain Kirk, Star Trek

Scar, The Lion King

Jafar, Aladdin

Frank Underwood, House of Cards

Annalise Keating, How to Get Away With Murder

Leonidas, 300

Type 7 | The Enthusiast

TYPE 7

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Gluttony to Sobriety

Belief: Happiness is the greatest good in life, you only live once so make the most of it.

Deepest Fear: Pain, suffering, loss, or being trapped.

Deepest Desire: Pleasure, joy, fulfillment.

How they see/justify their sin: Wastefulness is a travesty. The world has so much to experience and there’s no greater good than doing it all. Happiness is our God-given right.

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Overview

7’s are the part of us who want to be happy. They believe that there’s no greater good in life than the pursuit of fulfillment and 7’s take that very seriously. They are the people who dismiss the monotony and seek out every potential experience that promises fun. 7’s aren’t slackers and far from lazy, in fact, they can be the most aggressive of social chairpersons and even over plan their lives within an inch of their sanity. But on the other end of the spectrum they can be spontaneous, reckless, and (in line with their signature sin) gluttonous.

Gluttony may not mean (and often doesn’t mean) an over-consumption of food, instead it means the indulgence in anything that promises pleasure. There’s a nervous energy in the 7 who often doesn’t want a single moment wasted (especially as they go toward the unhealthy end of their spectrum). They can be the life of the party, the flightiest opening act, or the most centered, peaceful, joyful, sober presence in the world.

The 7 who has moved toward their virtue of sobriety won’t lose their characteristic joy, but they’ll find a reduction in their compulsions and find a sense of serenity and contentment in the world around them.

7 wing 6 | Maria, The Sound of Music

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Our beloved nun of musical legend is our example of a 7 with a 6 wing. Think about her musical numbers: “my heart wants to sing every song it hears”… “these are a few of my favorite things”… “I must have done something good [to deserve falling in love].” Our young, carefree protagonist is the embodiment of fun and considers it outrageous that kids can’t play or that music is banned from the house.

We see her 6 wing pop up every now and again most notably when she flees the mansion upon being told by Baroness Schrader that the Captain is in love with her. She runs back to the safety of the Abbey where her sagely Mother Superior tells her that “these walls aren’t meant to run away from our problems, you have to face them.” Our scared little Maria reluctantly takes that advice and returns to her beloved children and the story moves on.

7 wing 8 | Jack McFarland, Will and Grace

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On the less dramatic side of the character illustrations is the flamboyant, high strung, walking-id that is Jack McFarland. He’s selfish, sarcastic, quick on his feet, and constantly tolerates nothing less than his ultimate happiness and pleasure. Unlike his 6 counterpart Will Truman, Jack has few reservations and fears very little.

He’s got an 8 wing that we see often in his recruiting of the group to join him or assist him on his antics. 8’s have a fundamental belief that things should be done a certain way. Not by any commonly held standard, but on what makes the most sense to the 8. The 8 of us resists being controlled, manipulated, dominated, or oppressed. In rebellion of any authoritarian system, 8’s will live by their own rules and expect others to live by them as well. Jack constantly ridicules Will for his fashion choices, his food choices, his friend choices, his quirky interests, and anything that individuates him from society. Jack believes there’s a “right” way to live and Will simply is too inept to understand it or too weak to live by these guidelines.

His friends love him for his spontaneity and passion, but often have to support him through his various interests and flighty unreliability. We see Jack, at his worst, express the “Anger” of the disintegrated 1 when he’s not validated, joined, or supported when he wants something. He can get bitter, withdraw, or even go on the offensive when held back from his goals.

Integration Lines

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7’s are caught between two very sober and simplistic integration lines. As we saw with Jack McFarland, 7’s disintegrate into the 1 when they find themselves unhealthy. When a 7 is withheld from the things they want, 7’s can escalate in intensity or withdraw into bitterness until they find a way to fill their needs. They have no interest in sobriety and when it is forced upon them they resist. They can withdraw into depression but more often than not they’ll simply find an outlet that will help them feed their appetites.

But 7’s at their best, as they move toward health, find the nobility in sobriety and simplicity. They become “monk-like” and take on the virtue of “Non-Attachment” from their 5 integration. While they don’t lose their appreciate for fun, they do start to lose their obsession with it. They begin to find contentment in a peaceful, quiet, still, and minimalist life.

Character Coaching

7’s aren’t the easiest villains to find or write. They might be irritants to the protagonist but not often are you seeing the dominant villain have a 7 type. Think about it, you’d have to have a character who truly wants personal happiness and would likely have to challenge the protagonist who is looking for discipline, order, structure, compliance, etc. Not many story tropes are about a character defending or looking to implement structure in a world of hedonistic chaos.

Characters like Lampwick from Pinocchio (the boy who whisks Pinocchio away to Pleasure Island and over-indulges to the point of turning into a donkey) or the older boys from Lord of the Flies might be fair illustrations.

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While many of you might have not have seen the show Sense8 on Netflix, I believe one of the villains is a perfect example of a 7 villain. One of the Sense8’s, Sun, is a talented, yet oppressed woman in South Korea who’s far better suited to take over her father’s business upon his retirement than her playboy brother, Joong-Ki. In this instance, Sun’s goal is to play by the rules and be appreciated for her business acumen regardless of her gender. He brother doesn’t appreciate what’s been given to him and when he gets caught embezzling money from the company to fund his frivolous, extravagant lifestyle he begs Sun to take the fall for him (because in the patriarchal society no one knows or cares who Sun is even if she is the owner’s daughter). Even when she makes the sacrifice for her family, she is unappreciated, unthanked, and her brother (into season 2) keeps expecting Sun to live out the consequences for his own actions so the “unhappiness” can just go away.

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We’re hoping that our 7 will give up their selfish lifestyle and learn self-restraint, self-control, and find meaning in life beyond their hedonistic instincts. We want to see them truly value relationships in their lives beyond the benefit it brings to them personally.

Considerations

7’s can be played as flighty, ditzy, or childish but more often than not they are capable of master planning, recruitment, vision casting, and elaborate orchestrations. It’s easy to craft a character who’s average to unhealthy who is shallow relationally. In fact, that facet alone may be enough to create tension with other numbers who are more depth-oriented (2’s, 4’s, 6’s, 8’s and healthy 9’s). The bid these connection-oriented numbers make for the 7’s genuine relationship may set up a storyline that’s interesting to watch/read.

7’s and 8’s can be good combinations if they have a healthy, mutual respect for each other. 7’s aren’t going to react well to a super dominating 8 (especially 7w6’s) and unhealthy 8’s might not take well to the attention and maverick busy-ness of the 7 (especially if the 7 never gets around to assure the 8 of their loyalty).

7’s and 2’s might have a particularly challenging relationship if the 2 never hears the appreciation they crave for supporting the 7’s plans. 1’s might also pose a problem if they push back against the 7’s fun expectations by invoking rules, legalism, or judgment. 7’s and 4’s can be hit or miss as the 7 loves the new ideas the 4 can bring to the table (thus suggesting experiences the 7’s never considered) but if the 4 is too much of a buzzkill the relationship can capsize.

7’s will add a tremendous amount of color to your cast and help make your story larger-than-life.

Additional Examples

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Fat Amy, Pitch Perfect

Rachel Green, Friends (TV)

Sid, Toy Story

Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother (TV)

Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean

Fred and George Weasley, Harry Potter

Flynn Rider, Tangled

Type 6 | The Loyalist

TYPE 6

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Fear to Courage

Belief: We have to be vigilant to protect ourselves and others. Together we’re safer than we are apart.

Deepest Fear: Having no guidance or being in danger physically, emotionally, or relationally.

Deepest Desire: Safety, stability, and security.

How they see/justify their sin: Someone has to look out for us. Threats to our safety should be avoided, eliminated, isolated, or decimated because without safety we don’t have anything.

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Overview 

6’s are the people who bring us together. These “loyalists” believe that there is safety in numbers and once you get past the friendship “interview” you’ll be defended and included for life. 6’s have an often visceral reaction to ideas around safety and danger. “Fear” is a huge component to their lives but it can manifest in a host of different ways. It’s not always “terror,” it can be anxiety, apprehension, or even depression, clinginess, or escapist addiction. 6’s may not actually be in danger, but they’ll always be aware of what could happen if they’re not careful.

6’s are the best of friends. In fact, they can put up with a lot of flack or dysfunction once they’ve decided to be in your life. They believe in taking care of their own. They may not pick the “safest” friends, the most healthy, or the most well-adjusted, but once you’re “in” you’re “in.” While 6’s can be anywhere on the spectrum of jittery and apprehensive to full blown anxious or phobic, they believe that connection is the answer. 6’s who are isolated are likely to be at their absolute worst. Even if they can’t get the people around them they want they’ll often settle for minions just to assure they are connected.

6’s are great “glue” characters for an ensemble but can make great protagonists because “Courage” (the virtue of the 6) is so easy to visualize and cheer for. Whether it’s an internal journey or an external journey, any character who is faced with the need for courage will make for an engaging character and 6’s are great options.

6 wing 5 | Woody, Toy Story

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Consider Woody from Toy Story. As we go into movie number 4 in the franchise, our beloved cowboy has consistently been one to fight for his people. He loves the stasis of his life and his connection to his fellow toys and especially to his owner Andy. He goes to great lengths to eliminate the threat to his safe little world (Buzz Lightyear) even doing something drastic and expecting to be appreciated for it instead of rejected.

Where his character fails this model is in Woody’s desire to lead. 6’s aren’t often fighting for the spotlight. They are about equality and everyone playing their roles. A case could be made that Woody likes his role as the “leader of the toys” because he trusts himself to guarantee everyone’s safety more than anyone else (remember his whole lecture about “moving buddies”?).

Woody’s 5 wing isn’t super pronounced but philosophically we’d want to see the 6w5’s interest in learning believing that the more they know the safer they’ll be. While Woody isn’t often shown being curious, he does understand the rules of his world and in the first movie, for example, rallies the broken toys at Sid’s to “break” the rules to liberate themselves from Sid’s tyranny. Remember that 5’s want to be seen as “competent” and as a wing, it helps give the 6 what it wants.

6 wing 7 | George Castanza, Seinfeld

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On a scale of 1-10 of “calm and collected” to “anxious and reactive,” George is probably an 11. If you’ve seen even one episode of Seinfeld you’ll know Jason Alexander’s character to be the epitome of nervous energy. While Seinfeld is the self-proclaimed TV show about “nothing,” George’s interactions with the world are about overreactions to phantom issues, incorrect assumptions, presuppositions, expectations, and partially formulated philosophies about human nature and the world.

But at the end of the day, George feels an entitlement to be happy. This 7 wing drives him to create a safe world around him so that he can be happy. His advice to his friends is always framed in incredulity when their happiness is threatened. He believes he should be able to go where he wants, date who he wants, eat what he wants, earn what he wants, and yet: he is deeply unhappy because of all the things that could go wrong (and sometimes do). He sabotages relationships on the most insignificant of objections and actively looks for enemies, obstacles, and threats.

Integration Lines

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6’s are on their way to Courage. As they risk their fears they could go two very different directions. A 6 who is not getting what they need to fulfill their need for safety and security will regress to the “Deceit” of the 3. The unsettled 6 will determine that they must be doing something wrong, that their normal persona simply isn’t working to woo people around them. They’ll betray everything they believe in and adopt a new persona until they get the relational cushion they need. 6’s normally promote a high level of honesty within themselves and those around them (even if that persona is offensive). They are about equality and believe that there’s both light and dark within us all, they accept it and live fully into it.

6’s that are moving toward health take on the “Engagement” virtue of the 9. Here they exercise courage to move past their self-preservation fixations and begin to see others, serve others, without expected reciprocity. 9’s are the peacemakers of the group, empathetic and connected and 6’s who have overcome their fear begin to adopt these virtues as well.

Character Coaching

6’s can really play any role you need them to. Protagonists such as Marlin Clownfish from Finding Nemo or phobic supports like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter or Dr. “Bones” McCoy from Star Trek make for great positive roles as they panic about their fears and live into their courage.

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But 6’s can also make for some interesting villains. Consider the fearful 6 whose goal is safety and security, especially for the group. While the entire movie might not support this theory, Don Corleone (The Godfather) might be a good case study conceptually. Here you have a crime boss whose goal is the preservation of his family. When Michael shows up he’s self-actualized a bit and differentiated himself from his heritage. But the strength of the family system is enough to get him to eventually abandon his pursuit of individuation and instead stay in line and perpetuate the family’s values. Whatever the case, if you’re writing an antagonist you’re likely going to find someone who’s expressing some kind of fear or anxiety in a fight or flight kind of way and their lived-out dysfunction (or nefarious plan) will likely stem from being ostracized from their tribe or being opposed by a member of the tribe who’s seeking personal individualization or pressing the group toward some risky action (which the 6 strongly opposes).

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Considerations

Consider that 6’s are connected, one way or another. 6 villains are not going to be the isolated, withdrawn, nobody-knows-their-business kind of person. They’re going to have relationships, minions, and could even be obsessed with being connected to their protagonist even as a nemesis. They will pull people who rise too far into the spotlight down with the rest of us and will pretty much never take risks they believe could put them in harm’s way (unless the entire group is moving too). Healthy (or moving-toward-healthy) 6’s can venture out on their own, face their internal or external demons, and begin to engage with people and put them first.

As we’ve said before, 6’s expect fairness. But it can often be a fairness as first relates to them. Consider that 6’s will rarely rise to the top of the group, but they also will do anything to avoid being at the bottom (including cheating… which they see nothing wrong with more often than not).

6’s and 8’s can be intense personalities. They’re not afraid to speak their mind, call people on the carpet, and use their influence to get what they want or need. However, 6’s are far more collaborative and understand that the people around them need to be taken care of. They’ll help out their friends, but expect that to be reciprocated. 8’s tend more to use and manipulate others and focus far more on loyalty and obedience. While both believe there’s a “right” way to do things, 6’s are less concerned with it if the group wants to go a different direction (just as long as they go together).

6’s and 8’s can be interesting opposing characters. Because they can be more dominating personalities they can be the worst of enemies (as the 8’s try and control group and 6’s confront ulterior motives) or the best of allies (as 8’s rally the group toward a common good and 6’s make sure everyone makes it there).

6’s and 9’s make great companions. 6’s and 7’s can be good as well as long as the 7 isn’t too foolhardy or reckless. 6’s might have a problem with 4’s who constantly strive to differentiate and individuate themselves from the group and 3’s who want to stand out from the group more than the 6 approves of.

Additional Examples

Liz Lemon, 30Rock (TV)

Will Truman, Will and Grace (TV)

Chandler Bing, Friends (TV)

William Wallace, Braveheart

Type 5 | The Investigator

TYPE 5

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Greed to Non-Attachment

Belief: Doing things the right way and being fully educated is the most responsible way to live.

Deepest Fear: Being (or being perceived to be) useless.

Deepest Desire: To be seen as competent.

How they see/justify their sin: Being completely educated and prepared for any contingency is the responsible way to live.

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Overview

5’s are the collectors of the group. They are insatiably curious and are a bottomless reservoir for information and skills. They can be know-it-alls, correcting the smallest mistakes in others, or feeling it their duty to educate those around them with their shockingly detailed knowledge of oddly specific topics. Not only do 5’s genuinely love the pursuit of knowledge, but they believe this amassing of information makes them valuable and integral to the group.

The sin of 5 is “greed” (or the more pretentious word “avarice”). They believe there is always more to learn and they eat it up. They’re the kids who always ask “why” or the adults who seem to ask questions that many others wouldn’t find intriguing or useful. They love the validation they receive when asked for their expertise offering overly-detailed explanations to simple questions. This greed has a downside of making the 5 indecisive and paralyzed in moments where they feel like they don’t know what’s going on or feel unprepared.

The journey for the 5 is “Non-Attachment.” Many authors liken the attitude to that of a monk, one who finds contentment in simplicity and quiet. Healthy 5’s learn to live without the need to fill the space and put to rest the compulsion to gather. They divest themselves of the ideas, catalogs, or even things they’ve amassed (the “greed” applies far more to knowledge than it does to materialism, but hoarders can most certainly be a dysfunctional 5 in operation) and instead choose to quiet their minds and souls.

5 wing 4 | Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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One of my recent favorite 5’s is Newt Scamander from the Harry Potter prequel. Newt is lovable and quirky and doesn’t really get other people, but he gets creatures. He doesn’t need anyone to know about his sophisticated skill set but he prides himself on having it. His biggest issues are when people devalue the animals, a sin he finds utterly appalling. He withdraws into, literally, his own little world inside his briefcase and there he is the master of all that happens.

His 4 wing is pretty easy to spot because he freely admits he doesn’t understand people… and implies that he is a little strange. At this stage in his life we see Newt somewhat accepting of his oddities and instead of trying to explain them, he chooses to throw himself into his very unique line of work.

Newt isn’t that flawed as a person. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to connect with him as a character. (If you’re a HP fanatic and just spit out your coffee reading that criticism, hear me out). None of the characters in this movie are really that flawed. Tina is trying to rebuild a reputation of sorts, but none of the characters really have anything wrong with them. The story is almost exclusively an “external journey.” Sure, they have to learn to work together and build trust, but everything they do is reasonable and rational. Good storytelling has to include an inner-journey component or it’d better have enough special effects to compensate (which, to its credit, Fantastic Beasts does.)

What we could have seen with Newt is any inkling of an integration. Since he’s reasonably healthy, we see his merciful and decisive “8” come through. He acts when the moment demands and that’s a good sign. He’s not sure how it will all end but moves anyway. Risk taking (for 5’s and 6’s) is really healthy.

He doesn’t really go to a bad place where we might see his gluttonous or “screw it” “7” mentality materialize. But unlike Newt, our next character does.

5 wing 6 |Bella Swan, Twilight

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Bella is a classic 5. She has walls up with literally everyone in her life, except the one person (eventually two when Jacob comes to her rescue) with whom she gets completely obsessed. One variant of the 5 is hyper romantic and Bella is a perfect example.

Bella starts the Twilight saga being dropped off by her mother to live with her dad in middle-of-nowhere Washington State. Her mother is lighthearted, happy, a little self-absorbed, and can’t comprehend the depths her daughter is capable of mentally and emotionally. Bella actually prefers living with her dad who pretty much leaves her alone, something she vastly prefers to the helicopter parenting of her other parent.

Like many 5’s, Bella hates being forced into social situations but realizes she has no choice. She would prefer to be left alone but something exceptional, someONE exceptional, piques her interest. 5’s, socially, would often prefer strangers (who demand no further connection or relational obligation) or people who they perceive to be experts. Edward is elite. He’s smart, suave, seems to understand the world around him (something 5’s desperately want help with) and that makes him irresistible.

Integration Lines

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As we’ve said already, 5’s are journeying from Greed to Non-Attachment. At their best, however, they’re integrating to their healthy 8’s and take on the virtues of “Mercy.” This is slightly different than the 8’s version of “Mercy” because it’s Mercy toward themselves (compared to the 8’s Mercy toward others). 5’s tend to place themselves under an immense amount of pressure to know all and be competent to do all. When they integrate toward a Non-Attachment they begin to extend compassion toward themselves and find their value in who they are and not what they bring to the table.

On the other end, unhealthy 5’s reach the horrifying conclusion that no amount of knowledge will actually get them what they need. They find themselves deemed “useless” by others, their knowledge fails them, or they gather some evidence that all this work has been a waste of their time. When this happens, 5’s take on the “gluttonous” sin of their disintegrated 7 and basically say “screw it.” They will betray all the lessons they’ve learned and do things that might seem indulgent, excessive, selfish, addictive, or rash. They may hook up, drink too much, spend too much money, or find some other way to act as though life just doesn’t matter (basically “I know better, but since nobody cares (or it doesn’t matter), I’m just going to go do whatever I want regardless of what I know.”

Character Coaching

Working to create a good 5 character can be difficult for a lead. In fact, it will probably require some exaggeration of their know-it-all attitudes to really come through. But what you’re looking for is someone who places immense value on correct methodologies. They are likely to be uptight about when things are done different ways (not necessarily “wrong” ways or “bad” ways… but inferior to the 5’s deeply researched methodologies.

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As far as villains go, one of these exaggerated 5’s can be seen in the character of Vizzini from The Princess Bride. The annoying mastermind’s classic catchphrase “inconceivable!” is a perfect representation of this frustration with humanity who consistently seem to act irrationally. Even his square off with the Dread Pirate Roberts is all about his powers of deduction. What a brilliant, fitting end to challenge the 5 to a game of wits and beat them on a technicality outside the boundaries of the given rules. A 5 villain who believes they’re right may actually integrate to their 8 and become decisive in their plans, yet without the Mercy component, it’s empty and probably says more about a wing than health.

Considerations

5’s can fill their appetites by escaping into fantasies. They are stereotypically the sci-fi geeks who love to get into intensely complex cult followings. No matter what environment you place your character in, they can find something to obsess about.

Other types can love to learn, even be fascinated by research (7’s for example) so before you type cast a 5 as someone who asks a lot of questions, make sure that the motivations are aligned.

One common theme for 5’s is indecisiveness. 5’s are constantly living with the belief that there’s just not enough data. They pressure themselves to be completely prepared for any contingency and fully knowledgeable about whatever they’re going to do. Unknowns, surprises, or vague directions are going to be unsettling to the 5. Make sure you craft a good “inciting incident” to get your 5 moving.

5’s work pretty well with most other types. 7’s and 8’s might be a challenge if they are unwilling to explain their plans in detail or expect the 5 to blindly follow their directions without question.

Additional Examples

Hannibal Lechter, Hannibal

The Vogons, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Type 4 | The Individualist

TYPE 4

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Envy to Equanimity

Belief: Everyone has figured something out that I just can’t seem to. No one understands me.

Deepest Fear: That they are too complex, flawed, unique, or abnormal to be accepted.

Deepest Desire: To be celebrated for their individuality and the things that make them special.

How they see/justify their sin: Being jealous of others drives them to a kind of self-condemnation. Surviving the resulting depression and avoiding being a burden to others is the best they can hope for.

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Overview

The 4 is the side of our soul that expresses its uniqueness, individuality, and creative ability. There’s a reality that only the 4 side of us can define that is our us-ness, the person we truly are that differentiates us from everyone else on earth. As you can guess, the challenge is whether or not we believe it. The 4 is in the constant struggle between accepting the one-of-a-kind nature of who they are and living in immense doubt, insecurity and questioning the value of who they are. The sin of the 4 is “Envy” but not for other people’s things, but more so in what they know. 4’s believe that everyone has acquired, procured, or learned something that they have somehow missed. They always believe they are one step behind everyone else and are convinced that they are too complicated to be understood. “No one understands me” is the mantra in the mind and heart of the 4.

4’s can be withdrawn, moody, prone to depression but also incredibly artistic, creative, imaginative and innovative. If they can move toward their virtue (“Equanimity”) they can embrace the truth that they are just like everyone else, completely special and unique.

4 wing 3 | Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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The exaggerated persona of a 4w3 is Willy Wonka. The more extroverted and social of the 4 spectrum, the 4w3 works to promote their one-in-a-million persona to the world around them because being seen is the greatest source of validation one could hope for. 4w3’s tend to be performers, exhibitionists, and artists. They are the people on the street with style and aren’t afraid to show off their style, creations, or discoveries.

Willy Wonka is once such character. He is completely one-of-a-kind from his garish outfit to his flashy, innovative way to promise an elite presentation of his borderline ridiculous method of making sweets. While he withdraws from society when he’s taken advantage of (I’m combining the stories from the Gene Wilder’s 1971 adaptation and the Johnny Depp 2005 remake) but once his canvass is painted it’s time to let people see his creation.

Even though Gene Wilder’s character is almost a complete ruse (compared to Johnny Depp’s more flawed, angsty representation) if we analyze the character we know until that big revelation we can see a fairly consistent 4. Even the outburst at the end of the movie when he accuses Charlie and his Uncle Joe of stealing from him is all a belief that no one could possibly understand the world he’s created.

Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka is elitist, condescending, and pretty pessimistic about this entire contest. He protects himself by presenting a cynical, resentful attitude to the group and pretty much can’t wait for the tour to be over. His psychological trauma of being humiliated by his 1 father who’s forbidden him to eat candy and forces him to wear extensive dental headgear instead goes unaddressed until he ventures out on this regretful enterprise. We see a character who’s not only a protagonist 4 but one who is living into his grossly unhealthy disintegrated “2” (the sin of “Pride” which says “I gave you a chance and exactly as I expected, you let me down, you don’t get me, and you never will. I was right.”)

We want Willy Wonka to be rescued from his despair. We want him to know he’s special, that he’s seen and known and no matter how high his freak flag flies, that he’s loved.

4 wing 5 | Neo, The Matrix

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The other end of the spectrum has a 4 embracing their 5 wing and becoming insatiably curious to try and figure out what’s wrong with them. 5’s are the researchers and learners and tend to become experts in areas that are both very specific and very irrelevant to everyday life. 4w5’s are the most withdrawn and introverted spot in the group but believe the explanation must be out there.

Neo from the iconic film The Matrix is an example of a 4w5. Neo has this literal sneaking suspicion that something is being kept from him. It’s literally “everyone knows something I don’t know.” And Neo goes to extreme measures to figure it out. When Trinity meets him the first time she has him hooked the second she dangles an explanation for his questions in front of him. He’s willing to give up the entire fake life and live in the pain of the real world because in true 4 fashion, equality in the suffering is better than being the oddball in the fantasy world.

Not only does he escape the fake world but he learns that he really is unique, that he is destined to be the savior of the small bit of humanity left, The One. While Morpheus, Trinity and the gang support him however they’re able, he still lives with the belief that no one could possibly understand what he’s going through.

What we see in this character arc is a 4 who integrates (at the end of the trilogy) into their 1. This integration sees a 4 who stereo-typically defines reality by how they feel and integrates into living according to an objective, absolute external set of principles. He does what is right not because it feels right, but because it is right. He’s The One and The One has responsibilities.

Integration Lines

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As we saw in both these examples, the 4’s integration into the 1 and disintegration into the 2 has to do with where the 4 finds truth. The goal is that they will move away from their emotions and into their convictions. We want characters to get over themselves and find a purpose in the world beyond their ridiculously indecisive romantic entanglements. 4’s who disintegrate to their 2’s can get clingy to their support connections and reject any help whatsoever. When they lose hope, they can tend to isolate and retreat into a fortress of misunderstanding and irrationality.

Healthy 4’s can be deep, loyal, romantic, insanely creative and artistic individuals. They’ll add some incredible flare to your ensemble and intriguing depth to your story.

Character Coaching

4’s can be sympathetic as we all want to reach into the pages or through the screen and plead with them to accept that they matter. The challenge with 4 protagonists is not letting their iron-clad belief that the world is incapable of figuring them out make your audience give up on them. 4’s are waiting for confirmation that they are exactly as strange as they fear they are and they have are exceptionally patient. If your character doesn’t eventually move or give us a glimmer of hope that they might actually overcome their doldrums we might just stop caring. If the story is a “descent” story you’ll need to start them (or have them reach) a really healthy place for contrast.

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If you’re a Harry Potter fan, consider Severus Snape, the notoriously aloof, borderline cruel Potions master, who is desperately trying to overcome the pain that threatens to affirm his greatest fears. He creates a persona of high competency, no-nonsense, unapproachability, and elitism that helps him cope. But even when we do get to see him authentic in his memory with Dumbledore he, one more time, finds himself misunderstood. While he ultimately ends a hero, we unfortunately only get to see one heroic act compared to his years of emotional abuse of Harry and his classmates.

Considerations

Showcase the 4’s creativity. What they’re able to produce can be incredibly unique, colorful and wonderful. Consider the “goth” character in TV or movies or the teenager who is ultra-alternative. It’s a moment of vulnerability for the 4 and one that can be easily shown and exploited.

4’s can have a love/hate relationship with 3’s as 3’s take on the challenge of trying to understand the 4 and the 4 pushing back on that intense effort by working even harder to find the irrational reasons why it’ll never work.

7’s and 8’s can also be wonderful supports but also the worst villains for the 4. 7’s can get frustrated with the 4’s inability to have fun and 8’s can simply demand the 4 stop being so self-absorbed and get moving in the right direction.

4’s and 1’s can have a tenuous relationship as 4’s crave the conviction of the 1’s and innate ability to understand right and wrong but are irritated when 1’s disregard their valid emotions and simply expect them to move in spite of them.

Additional Examples

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Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

Dorian Gray, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Book)

Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones

Type 3 | The Achiever

TYPE 3

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Deceit to Authenticity

Belief: I can be whoever I need to be to help us all win. Small price to pay for success.

Deepest Fear: If people knew who I really was they would reject me.

Deepest Desire: To be seen and known for who I really am. To be respected and held in high esteem.

How they see/justify their sin: Accomplishment and achievement are some of the greatest goods in life. My ability to adapt and be what the situation demands can help us all win.

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Overview

3’s are, quite frankly, the superstars. They are the best at what they do, not just the rule followers, but the rule-excellers. They are competitive and image obsessed, ambitious, efficient, talented, and crave the spotlight. You can spot a 3 a million miles away on FB as the people who are constantly seeking other’s acknowledgement for their wit, their accomplishments, and even sympathy for their frustrating little daily challenges (you know what I mean… “Couldn’t find a parking spot at the gym again…”).

But going deeper, the 3 is a master actor. 3’s crave validation that they believe that unless they are exceptional, they are nothing. While 2’s want to add value to be accepted, 3’s believe they must be valuable to be accepted. To accomplish this, 3’s learn what kinds of things people want, the types of people they respect, the manner of individual they follow, and the values and traits people like and craft personas (masks, personality traits, etc.) that embody these ideals. Not only to the live as these perfect characters, they tend to take them to the extreme and become larger than life. They become the perfect host, the perfect friend, the perfect confidant, the most successful employee, the most inspiring leader, and at the end of every scenario: the winner.

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3’s believe that these successful, eloquent, suave, winning personas are irresistible. Their perfection makes them impossible to reject. They can’t not be valued because there’s no reason not to. But there’s the rub, even the most master 3 will never achieve the genuine love and acceptance they desire, because what they really fear is that if anyone saw the real them, their authentic, genuine, honest, flawed selves they would be assuredly be dismissed, alone, and found unnecessary and not worth the energy to love.

These masks, then, serve as survival mechanisms at their most desperate. But the journey for the 3 is from Deceit (some say “Vanity”) to Authenticity. The risk of letting someone see behind the curtain is the greatest challenge of the 3’s life. But it’s more than just a chance one takes, it’s dismantling, deconstructing, and disarming all the checks and balances of their perfect covers. It’s a huge gamble and that makes 3’s great characters to watch.

3 wing 2 | Monica Geller, Friends

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Monica is an intense, self-made woman. She is competitive to a fault and desperately wants to always be on top, prepared, and successful. There are times when Monica annoys us with her self-absorbed perfectionism. But there are also times when Monica saves the day because, at the end of the day, she loves her “Friends.”

Toward the end of season 2 we see a storyline where Monica gets a job at a diner. Despite the unfairness of it all, she learns that her slender body type and dark hair don’t earn as many tips as some of her co-workers. So Monica does what any 3 would do in her position: don a comically exaggerated voluptuous body suit and blonde wig. Despite all the hijinks she gets into, they do successfully earn her more money and she (with little protest) adopts this new persona and owns it.

It’s her future husband (spoiler alert) and long-time friend Chandler who gets past her defenses, validates her dreams, ambitions, and fears to win her over and craft a safe place for her to be brave enough to be authentic.

3 wing 4 | The Beast/Prince Adam, Beauty and the Beast

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For this example I’m going to use a combination of the Beast character from the Disney animated classic as well as the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. The challenge with drawing conclusions from either of these representations is that we don’t know a lot about Prince Adam before he was transformed by the Enchantress.

What we do know, however, is that he begins the story as an exceedingly arrogant, self-absorbed, image-obsessed man (why on earth would he ever allow a filthy beggar in his midst? What would that do to his credibility and dignity?) The Enchantress sees this vanity (3w4’s are notorious divas) and determines a punishment suitable to reveal the vulnerabilities of his heart.

The beauty of this narrative is that the story revolves around a 3 who is forced to live with a reality he can’t mask. While average 3’s often have to choose to remove the mask, the Beast is not given that luxury. Everything about him is rejectable. He’s forced to live authentically whether he wants to or not (at least externally). The Beast predictably (per his integrations as a 3) withdraws from society (the stereotypical 9 sin of “sloth”).

What we hope for our protagonist 3 is that he’ll have the courage (his integrated 6 virtue) to let Belle see the real him: someone who’s willing to sacrifice his personal victory for a greater good. (An interesting note, Gaston is also a 3 but one who has no reason or impetus to live authentically. He’s exceedingly vain and irritated beyond all his reason that he can’t get what he feels should be a no-brainer (Belle’s affection). Instead of courage to be authentic, Gaston chooses to prove his worth yet again by rallying the entire village to “win” at all costs. The contrast between our villain and hero is part of the brilliance of this story.)

Integration Lines

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3’s are journeying, as we’ve noted, from Deceit to Authenticity. By “Authenticity” we should be seeing a confession to being flawed. It takes an immense amount of bravery for a 3 to risk this kind of exposure. An integration to the 6 means the 3 beings to show Courage. They take the risks, they accept the gamble. By contrast, a defeated 3 who has lost all hope or exhausted all options to overcome the obstacles in their way or even feels trapped will shut down and withdraw (the 9 sin of “sloth” we’ve mentioned).

Character Coaching

3w4’s work to promote themselves as unlike anyone else (think Lady Gaga). Their uniqueness is their double-edged sword. It could mean they are ridiculed and rejected for it (a strong 4 mentality) or they could end up being celebrated and heralded for it.

By contrast 3w2’s care about people and desperately want people to like them. Consider The Wizard of Oz. He wants to help the people, even genuinely wants to help Dorothy and her friends. But because he’s actually powerless (an authentic reality) he creates a persona to hide behind.

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3’s are intense personalities. They’re known for their high achieving, workaholic, winning at all cost attitudes. They believe they should be celebrated for their deep commitment to being the best and are often confused when people react negatively to this dog-eat-dog philosophy.

3’s can be great anti-heroes and fantastic villains as well. Don Draper from Mad Men is a great example of a super unhealthy 3w4. He’s a winner but hides behind this aloof façade of enigma.

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Considerations

The biggest thing to consider is that when the mask finally comes off, your character must still have a personality, one we recognize. It’s not a complete split personality, 3’s can be authentically competitive and enjoy a sense of productivity and accomplishment.

3’s want, deeply, unconditional love. 2’s can be great support characters for 3’s because they don’t follow them because they are enamored fans, but because they genuinely love them. A 3 can take advantage of a 2 if they’re not careful (consider Gaston again and his friend LeFou).

3’s are likely to have challenges with 8’s (especially if the 8 is in a power position over the 3). 8’s want obedience and 3’s want affirmation. 8’s can parade their prize students, employees, or follower 3’s who will in turn eat up the praise and acknowledgment of the 8. Recipe for glorious disaster.

3’s might also clash with 6’s who resist anyone being too far ahead or behind of anyone else (6’s value equality). They might clash with 7’s who are flippant and might break the rules (a perception from the 3 of winning without honor or unfairly). 3’s might click well with 5’s who have the talent and education but have no interest in the limelight. 4’s are particularly intriguing to 3’s because a 4 will consistently claim that no one could possibly understand them and a 3 will say: challenge accepted. This savior mentality will motivate the 3 until they have tried everything they can think of without ever actually seeing the 4 change and embrace how special and unique they are.

3’s can be great in any role in your story. They are distinctive and easily typecast and can go to whatever depth you want to develop.

Additional Examples

Monica Geller, Friends (TV)

Fernand Mondego, The Count of Monte Cristo

Jack Donaghy, 30Rock

Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter

Billy Flynn, Chicago

GaLinda, Wicked (Broadway)

Melanie Carmichael, Sweet Home Alabama

Jeff Winger, Community

Type 2 | The Helper

TYPE 2

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Pride to Humility

Belief: I belong because I work harder, am a team player, help wherever I can, and earn it.

Deepest Fear: Being seen as or realizing I am worthless.

Deepest Desire: To add value to the world around me.

How they see/justify their sin: With all I do, appreciation and acknowledgement are the least of what I am entitled to as a human being.

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Overview

The 2 Types are the quintessential sidekicks. They are LeFou, Beauty and the Beast; Kenneth Parcel, 30Rock; and Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings. They are the relentless optimists, hardest workers, and willing to do anything to be of service to the world around them. Their conclusion is that being “helpful” is the greatest good, in fact, more people should just be… helpful.

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Their sin of Pride isn’t what you might think. It’s not arrogance. It’s a belief that with all the work they’ve done, they deserve their spot at the table, acknowledgement from the person they serve, and appreciation that any social convention would demand when someone has sweat blood to make an enterprise or other individual successful. Their belief is “I deserve to be thanked” and “my hard work has earned me my place here.” Their value, thus, is what they do. So they are intent listeners, frantic servants, and loyal companions.

Their journey is toward humility. And their integration lines help with that immensely.

2 wing 1 | Wonder Woman

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The smash superhero hit Wonder Woman shows a mindset that might not be completely in synch with the original character or the animated kids show representation, but Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is an excellent example of a 2w1.

We find her an optimistic young girl who just wants to be a part of the tribe. She learns of the story of their origin and their responsibility as Amazons (to protect the world from Ares, the God of War). It’s from that moment on she trains so she can contribute to the cause. And she becomes amazing.

Throughout the story, however, she displays an incredulity at both why people would ever engage in war (she’s convinced there’s no other explanation than that “mankind” has been brainwashed by Ares) and why the people with power refuse to act quickly or decisively.

Diana’s first trip to the front lines is overwhelming to her. She sees animals trapped in mud, a soldier with a leg blown off, and a mother holding a crying baby and she feels compelled to help them all (demands it even).

What’s interesting about Diana is that you have a 2 (the compulsive “helper”) with almost unlimited power. What you may not know is that Wonder Woman has been a challenge for writers. It’s taken years to find a director who would take the Wonder Woman story. The complaint has been “she’s unrelatable.” She’s almost invincible, has no iconic nemesis, and was raised in a totally foreign manner to the common person. To have a compelling protagonist they have to fall at some point, they have to face life or death, have to overcome their greatest weakness and face their greatest fears.

What the Wonder Woman story did was to give a “2” too many people to “help.” It was brilliant. It worked because it was relatable. With all her power she couldn’t accomplish what she wanted. At the same time, she proved she could eventually make people stop fighting but then faced the deeper issue: running away from the disintegration to the Lust-for-Power 8 and choosing to stay compassionate.

We see her 1 wing in her constant mantra for justice. 2w1’s have a distinct trigger when the situation is unfair or when people are bullied. Diana’s explosion at the British Intelligence meeting is a perfect example of a 2w1 tapping into their righteous motivations.

2 wing 3 | Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec

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Amy Pohler’s hit show Parks and Rec follows the adventures of a small town governmental office overseeing the city’s parks and community events. I’ve gone back and forth on if Leslie is a 2w3 or a 3w2. She certainly has the ambition and obsession with achievement and success to support the 3 theory. What I believe makes her a 2, however, is her self-policing. She often will say an aggressive or critical remark in the midst of a debate and then almost immediately correct herself and state the truth (which almost always fails to support her stance). For example, she’ll say “Ann, you are so stubborn!” and then immediately “That’s not true, you’re a beautiful warrior princess and I love you.” This isn’t typical of a 3 who would value winning above helping and would rather use psychological savvy rather than blatant debate.

At some level, though, Leslie does care about what people think of her. She’s dedicated to the people of her small town of Pawnee and loyal to a fault to her team of employees. The entire series begins (and carries through for the first couple seasons) with her desire to help Ann with her problem of a pit next to her house. She never rests until it’s done and she can fulfill her promise.

Where we see the 2 most clearly though is when she gets the briefest of affirmation from her stubborn boss Ron Swanson or later, the annoyingly perky Chris Trager. Where we love to see Leslie best are the moments when she realizes that her value isn’t in what she does but in who she is. That’s the healthy integration to the 4: my value is inherent and not tied to my actions.

2w1’s help the people they love (and they have huge hearts) because they believe it’s the right thing to do. 2w3’s by contrast help others because of who they believe it means they are (they’re “good people” and just as successful as those they help).

Integration Lines

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The 2 type is journeying from pride to humility. Their need for appreciation, acknowledgement, or affirmation is relinquished as they move toward their virtue of humility and begin to also live into the virtues of their integrated 4: equanimity. Healthy 2’s migrate from the need for validation because of what they do and instead find value inside. They don’t need others to see their worth, they embrace it themselves. They matter because… they do. They’re just as special as everyone else and completely unique just the way they are.

At their worst, 2’s live into the betrayal of those who have failed to see them as worthwhile and begin to take that power for themselves by living into the sin of the 8: Lust. Not a sexual lust, mind you, but a lust for power. 2’s instinctively go above and beyond to be recognized for their contributions, in their mind it’s undeniable that they matter. But given enough rejection, oppression, being taken advantage of, or bullied and 2’s will flip. They’ll break rules, get vengeful, and end up bitter.

Character Coaching

2’s are notoriously support characters. They’re lovable, often the comic relief, and loyal to a fault. The challenge with making a 2 a protagonist is in separating them from the rest of the herd so we can watch their story. That being said, 2’s are the iconic underdogs. They are easy targets for bullying (because it’s not often important to them to get on the level playing field with other types, many of whom are more selfish, self-absorbed, or competitive). We want the 2’s to win because everyone can see some of themselves in the 2.

For antagonists, consider that the storyline for a 2 villain is a character who has been hurt. Bullied victims who work to regain some kind of power or a character who spends time planning or enacting some revenge are good places to start. Just remember: a 2 has been rejected in some form to turn them to the dark side.

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Consider Rowan North from the Ghostbusters remake (with Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig). Here you have a janitor at a hotel who is constantly taken for granted, ordered around, and spoken to like a second-class citizen. He begins to put things in motion to release ghosts into the world as a way of punishing those who have hurt him. We want him to take the advice of the ghostbusters and realize that he’s worth being treated with respect and dignity. He doesn’t and we get an epic interdimensional battle.

Considerations

Andi Sachs from the movie The Devil Wears Prada is a great example of a 2’s victory. At the end of the movie she walks away from her controlling boss, throws her phone in a fountain and never looks back. She bravely walks away from the source of her (albeit limited) affirmation and reclaims her individuality and lives into her 4.

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2’s are idealists. They live into utopian fantasies about life, about how people should act, about how close the world is to perfection, and tend to believe the best about people. A broken 2 will be uncharacteristically skeptical about people, hesitant, and vigilant about boundaries. They want to believe the world is a wonderful place and may live on a perpetual roller coaster of hope and disappointment.

Additional Examples

Elphaba, Wicked (Broadway)

Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo

Kimmy Schmidt, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (TV)

Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter (series)

Dory, Finding Nemo/Finding Dory

Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries

Type 1 | The Reformer

TYPE 1

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Anger to Serenity

Belief: There’s something wrong with the world and it starts with me.

Deepest Fear: Discovering or realizing they are “bad.”

Deepest Desire: Integrity and holiness.

How they see/justify their sin: Nothing is more important than pursuing righteousness.

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Overview

The 1 Type is known as the “Reformer.” This type sees the world through a lens of “right and wrong” or “black and white.” There’s a right way to do things and they discipline themselves to embody that righteousness. They inherently believe they are the chiefest of sinners and thus live with perpetual regret, self-condemnation, and a strict code of lifelong penance. “Anger” in this context isn’t necessarily a temper problem. Instead, the 1’s I’ve met in real life have an undertone of perpetual frustration with themselves and the world around them. The journey, thus, is toward serenity.

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An interesting observation about the 1 Type: they don’t necessarily live by an objective moral code. It’s not necessarily a religious fanaticism (although that can certainly be a part of it, especially if your character is a villain or anti-hero) but it is an adherence to a worldview that makes sense to them. 1’s can be difficult to manipulate because they’re so busy “catching up” on their own sense of righteousness, but should the character’s sage gain enough influence, your “1” can become an extremist who can also be turned martyr should their conviction go deep enough.

1 wing 9 | Bruce Banner / The Incredible Hulk

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Bruce Banner is a great example of a 1w9 character. His inner demon (which actually becomes an outer demon all too frequently) causes him incredible pain and regret. He can’t contain it. There’s a literal “sin” inside him that forces him to act outside of his control. He’s constantly living in a state of regret and (at least in the Avenger movies) is reasoned with to help atone for his sins by helping right the bigger wrongs.

An iconic Bruce Banner exchange: “Don’t you have to get angry?” “That’s my secret… I’m always angry.” Bruce has a 9 wing because his response to his sin is to withdraw. 9’s want peace and Bruce believes his isolation will protect himself and others from his uncontrollable… issues. In the first Avenger movie he’s sequestered away in India. In the second, he leaves the group in a stealth plane. He doesn’t move toward people, he moves away from them to protect them from himself.

1 wing 2 | Princess Leia, Star Wars

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One of my all-time favorite movie sagas. While Leia isn’t the central protagonist, she is an archetypal 1w2. She has an unwavering commitment to her mission, her duty, her people, and to the peace of the galaxy. She rarely gives herself the luxury of a break, can get frustrated when people don’t take the matter at hand seriously, works relentless hard and doesn’t seem to mind life-threatening danger in the name of her cause. What distinguishes her as a 1w2 is the fact that when challenged by her crusade, she moves toward people. She believes helping, supporting, and fighting for others is the expression of her sense of justice and duty. She values people, listens to them, places herself between those she’s protecting and the danger at hand. She never once considers abandoning her quest or her post (a 1w9 would likely be more prone to isolation and withdrawal). She’s (arguably) an unsung hero in this saga being one of the few characters to never really be dominated by, seduced by, or broken by “the dark side” (something to consider when crafting a 1 character: their biggest demons are almost always internal).

Integration Lines

For your 1 character you should consider the spectrum of unhealthy to healthy.

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1’s at their worst exhibit the negative sin of the 4 type: envy. This sin is the belief that “everyone has something figured out that I don’t.” That can cause them to become depressive, reclusive, feel rejected and isolated, or potentially make them even angrier or bitter. There’s an inner monologue of betrayal: I’m working so hard to be good but no one else agrees or is making an effort to address all that’s wrong with the world. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with them?

1’s at their best lighten up and take on the virtue of the 7 Type. They let their hair down a bit, give themselves a break (and the others around them) and find their serenity by indulging in a few luxuries. This is so easy to illustrate and what makes 1’s great protagonists. We all want the relief of watching this character calm the hell down and smile.

Character Coaching

Hero 1’s are easier to write in ensemble because the buffer of more lighthearted characters can help pull readers/viewers away from what can come off as irritable and judgmental personas. Stand alone 1’s would work well with a peppy best friend or some kind of comic relief in their lives. They need people who care about them to help pull them out of their swirl of despair. But ultimately it’s their inner demons they have to face.

Villain 1’s are pretty iconic. Javert from Les Miserables is a good example of a villain 1. He’s doing the right thing but feels terrible about it. He complains that to resent justice simply doesn’t make sense to him (even though that’s exactly how he feels). You sin: you pay the price. The worst position he finds himself in is at the mercy of the “sinner” who’s acted with more nobility than himself. He finds himself in conflict over what the “right” thing to do is and it eventually overwhelms him.

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1’s can also be great foils for protagonists who have a hard time staying on task (7’s and 5’s maybe) but also can be good motivators for paralyzed or depressive 9’s or 4’s. They can be great competitors or dispassionate judges especially in storylines where meticulously following the rules is the environmental/situational villain (where the moral of the story is: lighten up.)

Considerations

I’ve heard it said that 1’s are notoriously optimistic about what they can accomplish in a given time frame. Thus 1’s (for all their striving for perfection) tend to be late to everything, apologize often, and can have lives that feel “out of their control.” It’s primarily an internal issue, the striving for perfection. Thus, exaggerated character 1’s may have messy living conditions, not worry much about their personal appearance, have addictive healthy regimens (like push themselves to exercise quite a bit too much), have personal crusades and often be found on soapboxes, and even pushing their penance onto others (especially 1w2’s) by invading their personal space or independence in an effort to “do the right thing.”

1’s can often get confused with 8’s. Here’s a fundamental difference I’ve found: both types say “something’s wrong with the world” but 1’s say: “I’m part of the problem.” 8’s believe “all of you are part of the problem.” 1’s tend to stand alone, 8’s tend to command a crowd and constantly be recruiting followers to their righteous causes. If your character is too worried about getting people to do the right thing, you may be working with an 8 instead of a 1.

Remember that 1’s may have their own “moral code” they’re following, not something objective. Their “gut” or “instinct” is driving the car and many just say “because it’s the right thing to do” without a lot of reference. 1’s also are almost never the perfectionists they claim to be. They’re not showy (like 3’s who actually do want to be perfect). They often betray their sensibilities but never without determining the punishment/penance required for such transgressions in advance. Thus, a common theme is: there is always something to regret.

Healthy 1’s are incredible assets to a team. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to incorporate their relentlessly hard working attitudes or fail to cash in on their willingness to be martyrs for a cause.

Additional Examples

Spock, Star Trek

Britta Perry, Community (TV)

Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

Frollo, Hunchback of Notre Dame (villain)

Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy (villain)

Elsa, Frozen

 

Enneagram Basics | Three Basic Elements

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Enneagram | The 3 Basic Elements

The Enneagram is in one sense a very simple concept, but in another the most complicated, sophisticated, adaptable, and potentially subjective profile tool out there. I’ve been using it for a couple years now and still feel like I’m only scratching the surface of what’s truly available to me with this tool. It’s absolutely brilliant and with the various complexities it contains, has an infinite number of possibilities (which is great for storytelling as you tailor your characters).

There are so many layers and nuance to the Enneagram but for a primer level discussion I believe there are 3 elements to understand:

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The 9 Enneagram “Types.”

I’ll be honest, I hate the term “type.” The Enneagram is intriguing to be because unlike many of its counterparts (such as DISC or Myers Briggs) it is not a personality profile. I want to make that clear. The Enneagram isn’t describing if you like to be around people or if you get details or if you’re artistic or live according to some objective moral code. The Enneagram is something entirely different.

I wish that difference was easy to summarize, but that’s what makes it beautifully philosophical. The Enneagram is rooted in an Eastern philosophy outlining the “9 fragments of the soul.” Each point on the Enneagram is a tension between a sin and virtue combination (anger and serenity; pride and humility; fear and courage; gluttony and sobriety, etc.). We Westerners love to take these ideas and say “what’s your type?” “I’m a ___.” That’s not exactly how it works. Every sin and virtue combination should be cultivated in one’s life. Every human on earth will have moments of anger or greed or envy.

It’s not about ever experiencing that emotion, it’s about the primary lens through which you evaluate the world around you. It’s how you react to your fears and insecurities (and more importantly WHY you choose to respond the way you do). It’s about what you need and how you’re likely to respond if you don’t get it. It’s about how we interact with people and what we believe about our potential, our future, and our survival.

Your “type” is the place on the circle you tend to sit at, much like King Arthur’s round table and that “type” probably makes sense to you, probably reflects how you see the world, and probably reveals the primary challenges you face in the deepest part of who you are.

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The 18 “Wings”

As you can see, the Enneagram is drawn in a circle. While each type is numbered, they’re not a hierarchy, they’re just… seats at the table. One of the fascinating elements of the Enneagram and how it’s laid out is that each type is influenced (maybe strongly, maybe subtly) by the two types on either side (the “wings”). It’s an important distinction because it can affect the flavor of the expression of the primary type or put another way, it can explain how it makes sense to you to address the sin of your primary type.

For example, the “1” type tends to be focused on the right and wrong, black and white of the world. There’s a “right way to do things,” but for the “1” they believe the failure to live righteously starts with them. 1’s tend to be hard on themselves, live with regrets, frustrations that they haven’t been good enough, and put their greatest efforts into disciplining and punishing themselves into right living.

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But a 1 with a 9 wing is pretty distinct from a 1 with a 2 wing. A 1w9 is likely to withdraw as they work out themselves striving for the serenity (the 1’s signature virtue) in peacemaking and even isolation.

The 1w2 however is much more likely to press into relationships. This type is more likely to see their penance played out in making the people in their world better (because helping people is the “right thing to do.”)

1w9’s pull away, 1w2’s press in. It’s a big distinction but at the core of it all is still a soul angry at itself and the world for falling short of ideal and striving for serenity in the midst of the darkness.

One last thought to consider, the wings are a great place to start in cultivating a healthy character. (A humanitarian superstar 3w2 would actually benefit a lot from having some of the artistic, creative 4 wing nurtured in their lives.)

The Paths of Integration

Once you’ve identified a type and the influencing wings, the last primary element to consider is how healthy is your character. The unique geometric figure (the “enneagram”) is more than an icon, it’s actually a traced path between the numbers connecting them in a web of unhealthy to healthy.

The Enneagram suggests that the primary type (in tension between its sin and virtue) is not the only journey the soul can take. The integration lines are the two numbers connected to the primary type and illustrate the sin observed when the character is in a dark, unhealthy emotional state and the virtue added when reaching a point of health.

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For example, the 3 type is about masks. Vanity or deceit are the signature sins and the battle for authenticity is the soul’s task for the 3. This type is inherently ambitious, wants the spotlight, tends to scoff at obstacles to achievement, success, or getting what they want. They’re the golden children, the perfectionists, or maybe even the dog-eat-dog business superstars. They can be the most inspiring of figureheads or the most offensively competitive of opponents.

The disintegration of a 3 is the 9 type. What that means is that 3’s rarely accept defeat, but when they do, they can go depressive and withdraw. They begin to take on the sin of the 9 which is “sloth.” 3’s who feel like there’s no hope, no way around an obstacle, or no way to win can shut down and escape. It’s the loss of ambition, a numbing, overwhelming sense of failure, and the sheer devastation that they simply cannot finish the journey even with the use of their best “masks.”

A healthy three, however, integrates to the 6 Type and begins to express the virtue of “courage.” They come out of the limelight they crave as a 3 and join the equality and community of the group as an average participant. They bravely begin to shed the masks (the persona’s they present to get what they want or to win people over) and let people start to see the real them (their real quirks, fears, weaknesses, insecurities, etc.) and wait to see if they will be accepted or rejected for those authentic attributes of who they are.

Summary

There are other elements of the Enneagram to consider that can affect the expression of a character or person’s make up, but these are the basics. Start with questions like: who is this character? What do they want? What will they do to get it? What will they do if they don’t get it? How do they see the world? And most importantly: who will this character become through the journey?

By using these evaluative tools you can begin to see the world through your character’s eyes. When something happens, how are they likely to react? How does it support or devastate their values? How does it prey on their fears? How does the event, challenge, or quest give or take away what this character wants most? Ask these questions to let your characters lead your story instead of having them react to the circumstances you hope to create.

Make your characters believable, then we can see a bit of us in them and go on the journey ourselves.

If you’re a nerd like me, here’s some more complex descriptions you could study:

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