Monday, September 13, 2010

Character Development Via Birthday

We have a company that arrives at our school once a month with books and gadgets to put on display in our staffroom, and staff can purchase these items if they wish. It's a very effective "impulse" buy strategy. There you are in the staff room, nothing to do but eat leftovers, so you flip through the cookbooks or spot a cute Labrador retriever calendar you suddenly can't do without.

Anyway, one day last year I walked into the staff room and found one such gem, a ginormous book called: The Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays (EEB) by Theresa Cheung. I was familiar with the Element series as I have many of their folklore/mythology titles and being that I already thought of the series as research material might have put me in the right mindset. After a few page flips I understood just what I was holding.

The EEB is the motherload of character development tools. Looking to add depth to a shallow character? Need a few extra plot conflicts? Get them through personality clashes! Each birthday/day of the year is broken down into easy to read chunks of info: traits, challenges, good luck charms, how this person acts when feeling "dark side" or when they're at their best, their health and career interests. See? The motherload.

I'm not suggesting you pick a day of the year and base a character on the info you find, though I guess you could. I think it's better to take bits and pieces from different days and create your own dynamic personality. This resource works wonders if you're adding to an existing character, incorporating traits that you might otherwise not have thought of, or ones that make a flat character come to life.

So grab a copy, flip through the pages and get inspired!

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