How Well Do You Know Your Hero/Heroine? Character Development Framework

Despite nearly universal likenesses and differences, each of us is born with predispositions to think and behave in certain ways according to when we were born, our position or role in our family system, and personal/emotionally charged experiences. Exhibited family values also play a critical role in personality development. Bottom line – personality is extremely complex, and the more complex we allow our characters to be, the more enthralling our story. Our hero and heroine should grow throughout our story. Each one has to learn certain things/lessons to propel the story.

Every character has one thing in common – deep down, they all want love more than anything. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called romance. At some point, we’ll talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, because according to Maslow, everyone – I’ll say that again. Everyone’s main goal is love – to love and be loved. No matter how angelic or evil their actions, the underlying goal is still the same.

Often because of our experiences, we become jaded and seek love in all the wrong ways, and sometimes we learn to seek respect, admiration, even fear in place of love, but that doesn’t change the universal need and desire. So, now that we’ve established the universal ideal, let’s talk a few minutes about individual characters. In addition to love, what does your hero want? What does your heroine want? What lesson(s) must they learn by the end of the story?

Growing up, my nose was always in an astrology book. Arguments abound for and against the merits and accuracy of astrology, but that’s not my intent today. Today, I’d just like to introduce you to a cool personality framework (yep, there’s that word again). Those of us who love lists, also tend to love frameworks J Astrology is great fun for personality studies, and I have a list specifically designed for lovers.

As you read through, think about your characters. Do you recognize them in the brief descriptions? Can you identify which signs they fit into? I like to think of it as determining how your characters express love based on what they already know, and how they recognize it when shown to them once they’ve evolved.

One more thing - Just in case you’re a newbie to astrology, each sign covers a four week period (the last ten days or so of one month, and the first three weeks of the next). Exact dates for the beginning and end of a particular sign’s influence vary slightly according to astrologers and the year of birth. Also, the signs of the zodiac mimic a human lifespan, beginning with Aries, the infant, and culminating with Pisces, the elderly, each successive sign gaining wisdom from previous signs.

1.     Aries – the infant – Life statement (“I am”) – To me, love is innocence. I must learn that love is trust
2.      Taurus – toddler – Life statement (“I have”) – To me, love is patience. I must learn that love is forgiveness
3.      Gemini – elementary years – Life statement (“I think”) – To me, love is awareness. I must learn that love is feeling
4.      Cancer – adolescent – Life statement (“I feel”) – To me, love is devotion. I must learn that love is freedom
5.      Leo – teen – Life statement (“I will”) – To me, love is ecstasy. I must learn that love is humility
6.      Virgo – young adult (20’s) – Life statement (“I analyze”) – To me, love is pure. I must learn that love is fulfillment
7.      Libra – adult (30’s) – Life statement (“I balance”) – To me, love is beauty. I must learn that love is harmony
8.      Scorpio – (40’s) – Life statement (“I desire”) – To me, love is passion. I must learn that love is surrender
9.     Sagittarius – (50’s) – Life statement (“I understand”) – To me, love is honesty. I must learn that love is loyalty
10.                         Capricorn – (60’s) – Life statement (“I consume”) – To me, love is wisdom. I must learn that love is selfless
11.                         Aquarius – (70’s) – Life statement (“I know”) – To me, love is tolerance. I must learn that love is oneness
12.                         Pisces – elderly – Life statement (“I seek”) – To me, love is compassion. I must learn that love is EVERYTHING

     How did you do? Were you able to identify your hero and heroine? There are also implications for conflict. Sable, “Dark Sentinels” hero, book one, is a Libra. He’s smooth, extremely well-mannered, appreciates beauty, and seeks harmony. Torin, “Dark Sentinels” work-in-progress hero, book two, on the other hand, is a Scorpio. Volatile, passionate, he’s a control freak afraid to allow himself to be vulnerable. So, how about you? Tell me about your hero and heroine.


Unknown said…
So when I say Linda Goodman's Love Signs you know exactly what I'm talking about:)
And I'm seventy? I always knew I was an old soul...
Thanks, Dariel, great piece!
Dariel Raye said…
Exactly! Well, I'm a perpetual teen, but people have always called me an "old soul." LOL
Angela said…
I see myself in these ;-) My characters in my most recent piece I think I see my heroine more than my hero, but I like your method of creating characterization.
Krystal Shannan said…
Very interesting! I enjoyed your method of characterization.
Anonymous said…
Intriguing post. My astrological sign totally nailed me.