© November 2010 by Fabienne Lopez
This is post #5 and the last in my series on how writers can use the 4 elements (fire, earth, air and water) to help them develop characters and plots. Previous posts can be found here, here, here and here.
Developing a character for a story can be a painstaking process. Each author has a favorite method for transforming a flat, stereotypical character to a compelling and riveting one. Some writers prefer using storyboards, index cards. Others resort to charts, visual aides, or lengthy questionnaires.
A little know resource to help writers in this task is just some basic astrology. Something as simple as using the 4 elements (fire, earth, air and water) can provide information to come up with a minutia of details that can make your character come alive.
The Water Element: Concept and Keywords
Some keywords that describe this element and consequently the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) are:
• compassionate, psychic, artistic, intuitive, helpful, reflective
• self-indulgent, exaggeration, fantasizes, controlling, hysterical
• addictive, broody, caring, compassionate, destructive, dreamy,
• easy-going, emotional, feeling, grasping, healing, hoarding,
• impressionable, kind, sensitive, moody, over-emotional,
• protective, receptive, revengeful, sacrificial, smothering,
• spiritual, supportive, sympathetic, untidy, affectionate,
• sentimental, romantic, creative, contemplative, mystical,
• reflective, private, introspective, subtle, observant, wise.
This list of keywords is a starting point to understand what motivates your water character what is their secret shame, deepest aspirations, or greatest fears and joy.
Below more details on the traits and attributes of the water element that can be used to your draw the inner conflicts of your character.
The Water Element Characters’ Positive Traits and Attributes
A water character exhibits the following personality traits:
• A character who is sensitive and is in touch with his feelings;
• A character who is highly intuitive with many hunches;
• Someone very open about his feelings with great emotional depth;
• A romantic who wants to be in committed relationships;
• Someone who is comfortable being affectionate;
• A character who loves to “mother” their partner, children and friends;
• A creative type who express himself through photography, art, dance, music and poetry;
• A compassionate care-giver with a comforting style;
• A character who is calm and forceful in crisis situations;
The Water Element Characters’ Negative Traits and Attributes
Let’s now have a quick look at the downside qualities of the water element that gives more depth to the shadow side of your character:
• A character who goes through a constant emotional roller coaster, from peaks of joy to abyss of despair;
• An impressionable and highly impractical character;
• Someone who lacks objectivity and takes things personally;
• Somebody who can “smother” his loved ones with his emotional needs;
• A character who becomes obsessed and vindictive when betrayed
• Someone who can be demanding and covetous when feeling insecure;
• A character overly protective and possessive
Each of the 4 elements (fire, earth, air and water) can make the task of constructing your characters much easier. The keywords, traits and attributes of each element allows you, as a writer, to create believable characters. As a result, they become real to your reader.
Each element is a canvas for a particular type of character. Need a down-to-earth hero? Check the earth element for strengths, conflicts, passions and quirks. A humanitarian type? The air element fits the bill. Fire provides you with a credible knight-in-shining armor type of hero. The water element is perfect for a sensitive, romantic hero.
I would love to hear from you. I want to know how using astrology helped you come up with better characters, scenes and dialogues for your story.
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Photos Credits: Flickr Creative Commons