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Transformational Character Arcs: Part 2 - Personality Types

By The Unknown Screenwriter

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Personality Types

Let’s start out by making a list of the 23 personality types:
  1. The Adventurer
  2. The Boss
  3. The Conformist
  4. The Conventional
  5. The Creator
  6. The Dependent
  7. The Eccentric
  8. The Extrovert
  9. The Fall Guy (or Girl)
  10. The Fearful
  11. The Flamboyant
  12. The Hyper
  13. The Loner
  14. The Man’s Man
  15. The Manipulator
  16. The Passive-Aggressive
  17. The Perfectionist
  18. The Personable
  19. The Problem Solver
  20. The Show-Off
  21. The Resilient
  22. The Ultra-Feminine
  23. The Victim
I know I know... You thought there were only 9 personality types... Or is it 16 personality types? Whether you prescribe to the 9, 16, or to the above 23, the exercise serves a purpose when it comes to creating and writing your characters ON THE PAGE.

How can knowing about these 23 different personality types help you with your characters? Glad you asked. Knowing the personality type of your characters will go a long way toward knowing how they react to the obstacles you throw at them throughout the story. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to make a clichéd character and then like a puppeteer, make him do what we all expect him to do.

Knowing this information simply helps make your characters more believable to your audience. Knowing what traits these personality types possess will certainly help you figure out how they will react, develop, grow, and change by the end of your story.

Have you ever seen a character in a movie do something SO OUT OF CHARACTER that you’re just angry for the rest of the film? Sure you have. We all have. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly okay to have your characters do something out of the ordinary. That’s what good films are all about but you have to balance that line carefully because making a mistake on that line can lose your audience. Many if not all of the above personality types share lots of traits so it’s really not that difficult to get it right and it’s really not that difficult to GET IT WRONG. LOL. You just have to be careful.

Many times I have come to a point in my screenplay where I just have to make my character do something so different and out of character that I end up taking a step back and consider whether or not I really knew his or her personality type from the get-go.

That’s right... It can change.

As your characters come alive to you, as they react, develop, grow, and change right on the page in front of you, you sometimes have to wonder if you got it right up front. It’s okay if you didn’t because let’s face it, do we really know people? Do we know what THEY want us to know or do we really know them?

As your character(s) develop within YOU, you might very well find out that they are NOT who you thought they were — so knowing what personality type they are can be a big help even if that personality type changes at some point in your story.

Are we clear? Cool. So first just absorb the fact that we’re trying to make realistic or as I prefer to say, HYPER-REALISTIC CHARACTERS in our stories before we start to delve into these personality types and all the traits they share with each other.

For this article, let’s start with the first four:

THE ADVERTURER

The Adventurer is a GO-GETTER! Full of energy with a dominant personality who always wants to LEAD and always expects to LEAD. The Adventurer always lives on the edge and is always willing to take risks. He or she pushes everything to the edge. The Adventurer certainly doesn’t mind attention or being in the spotlight. Lots of confidence but sometimes the arrogance of confidence results in poor judgement. The Adventurer is fiercely independent and impulsive. Courageous and rebellious. Can be ruthless if events dictate.

Rules never get in the way. You’ve heard of people who act NOW and ask forgiveness later? The Adventurer doesn’t ask for forgiveness and rarely feels guilty. You’d expect to see the Adventurer working in a job that carries a lot of excitement with it. Everything from being a cop to pulling confidence scams.

My kind of character... LOL.

THE BOSS

The Boss always wants to be the leader. Very aggressive and used to getting their way. Forceful and willing to humiliate others if need be. The people that work under the Boss are simply tools for getting the job done and are easily thrown away if they don’t work anymore. The Boss goes out of their way to avoid socializing with the troops and extends that attitude so that others have a hard time getting to know them as well. The Boss loves being the center of attention no matter where they are and often takes their BOSS attitude home with them and releases it on their family and friends. Confident and stubborn, the Boss has his or her own way and will tell you flat out. They often take advantage of other’s weaknesses to get them to do their bidding. You’d expect to see the Boss working in a job where he or she can have quite a few others working under them. They love the military, medical fields, corporations, anywhere they can act like the King or Queen they really want to be.

THE CONFORMIST

The Conformist doesn’t love the rules as much as he or she simply loves to FOLLOW the rules... LOL. The Conformist is normally conservative in their thinking, attitude, and morals. They miss the “good old days” that they were NEVER a part of. They don’t like a lot of change to occur around them and often go out of their way NOT to make a decision. They even have a hard time deciding where to eat but once they do decide, they have an even harder time deciding what to order.

The Conformist is devoutly loyal so that’s pretty cool. They don’t deal too well with problems that pop up and often try to fly under the radar when there are problems. You can pretty much count on the Conformist within the workplace as they are dependable and always give you a consistent day’s work, whatever that may be. In other words, they are predictable and you always know what to expect of them. Don’t try to show them new ways of doing the things they’ve been doing for so long because their way is the best way FOR THEM. You’d expect to see the Conformist working in a job like a factory, government technician, teacher, anything where they can simply punch the clock — do their same old eight hours — and go home.

THE CONVENTIONAL

The Conventional personality type is a close brother or sister to the Conformist. The Conventional lives and dies by the rules and really hates change. While not quite as compliant as the Conformist, you’d be hard pressed to tell the two apart. You’d find the Conventional personality type wearing the full Levi’s Dockers outfit every day, even when they go out since it’s always easier to let someone else color coordinate their wardrobe. For God’s sake, don’t ask the Conventional to make a decision on anything or you might perpetrate a heart attack on them. The Conformist doesn’t possess a lot of initiative, not very creative. Again, they are loyal and make good worker bees and don’t enjoy a rocking boat. They prefer to have the Queen Bee tell them what to do or have their entire YEAR laid out in front of them. It’s almost as if they go into a trance at work... i.e., they get to the job — DO THE JOB — the work gets done — you barely even know they exist. The Conventional busts his or her ass for their family and they often have at least one or two close friends back at the job. God forbid a grown child of the Conventional surprise him or her of some dream they want to pursue... HEART ATTACK! Same kind of career fields as the Conformist.

Think about the above personality types. Chances are that you know these types right now. Again, this information isn’t really anything new but it’s sometimes nice to revisit especially BEFORE creating new characters. It’s also good to keep in mind if you’re using one of these personality types in your story. Just knowing the overall type, his or her attitudes and behaviour will help you create a more believable character and will especially help out with the ultimate character arc they make.

Knowing the personality type of your characters and then giving them the traits of that personality type will go a long way toward building a believable character for us as well as building that character arc at the end. You might take one or more of the personality type’s flaws and resolve them thus, creating an arc. You might take some of the traits of a personality type and STRENGTHEN or WEAKEN these traits thus, resulting in a kind of change.

Knowing these personality types can also help keep your characters from sounding the same or doing the same things as other characters in your story... which is a big no-no when writing a screenplay and often one of the most consistent problems that plague specs from “the field.”

Next month we’ll look at a few more on the list!

Next Article in series.

About The Unknown Screenwriter

A working screenwriter and producer, The Unknown Screenwriter makes his home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California and somewhere in the state of New Mexico with just a little bit of Los Angeles thrown in when he feels he can breathe the air.

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