There are many different personality tests, and they are often used in organizational psychology, where consultants work in the workplace to help co-workers understand one another. I recently took one at work, as I have also done in the past, and I thought of how it applied to those who read or write fiction. I have decided to use the True Colors personality type here because of its simplicity and applicability, but as I mentioned before, there are many others available.
True Colors was started by Don Lowry in the seventies, and still has a strong following. It categorizes personality types into four broad categories, based on a color. The green in me (you will know what that means soon), feels compelled to warn you that the human condition is not easily simplified into four discrete categories. In other words, the accuracy and applicability of this personality test will only get you so far. You know you the best, and you may have more than one color personality type that influences you, or it may vary based on the particular topic or situation. Overall, however, I think this is a good metric for building understanding.
For those in critique/writing groups, I think that understanding ourselves and others also goes a long way toward dealing with conflict. When we see these personality colors in ourselves and others, we can appreciate our differences, and view others as different instead of viewing them as wrong.
I am going to explain each personality type is it applies to fiction writers and readers. Please note that this is based on my own subjective view of writers and readers, as well as my knowledge of the True Colors personality types. I like to think I am a pretty effective therapist and manager, but I am also human.
Click here to take the personality test. Then return here to see what you personality type means for you as a reader or writer of fiction.
The gold personality is one that thrives on rules and traditions. They have a strong sense of duty and commitment. They desire things like punctuality and organization. They measure worth by completion. They are likely to be a part of groups, and like to be respected. They enjoy being in positions of authority, and like to bring stability.
As a Reader
These are the so-called “grammar nazis” that everyone refers to. Rules exist for a reason, and golds do not like to read the work of people who refuse to follow the rules. They appreciate worlds, characters, and stories that are internally consistent, and follow the rules of writing. They have no use for works that are riddled with grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. Golds can sometimes get lost in the nit-picky details, to the exclusion of the more emotional aspects of writing. Writing is a science, not an art.
As a Writer
Great at editing, golds go the extra mile to ensure every last typo is tried, convicted and executed. They tend to put a lot of thought into their stories, and like it when all of the rules of their fictional worlds are explored and adhered to. The three act structure. show don’t tell, and other traditional rules of writing and publishing are their bread and butter.
In a Writing/Critique Group
They make it a point to be on-time, and to follow through on their commitments. They appreciate others who are also punctual and follow-through on their commitments. They like to set up the rules and to help govern the group. They have little tolerance for people who are late, do not follow the rules, or do not follow-through on their commitments. They are the person everyone turns to for grammar advice, or when they believe a general rule or guideline will assist them. They can come across as harsh, rude, judgmental, and overly concerned with “rules.”
The Blue personality values nurturing, relationships, and emotions. They are very much drawn to literature and love symbolism. They love expression and creativity, and encourage the same in others. Blues need harmony, and make decisions based on feelings.
As a Reader
They want to connect with characters, and love stories that convey an inspirational message. They tend to like stories that have happy endings that neatly tie of all conflicts with a nice, silky bow. They love stories that are creative, and can be bored with stories that are too far “inside the box.” Some typos and mechanical errors are okay, as well as some minor holes in the plot, as long as they have a good feel for the characters and the characters are creative and compelling.
As a Writer
They tend to be “seat-of-the-pants” writers, and really like to develop their characters to the fullest. Conflicts in their stories will often force their characters to examine their feelings and character flaws, and grow as “person.” They thrive on positive feedback from others, as that is really why they write. They strongly believe in ideals, and bring that into their writing. They have a difficult time dealing with confrontation, can move at a slow pace, lose sight of important details, and do not tend to initiate.
In a Writing/Critique Group
The group cheerleader, they want to make sure everyone knows they are valued and heard. They can sometimes have a hard time with not taking criticism personally. They often do well at finding compromise. They love opportunities to be creative and connect with others emotionally.
Innovative, and logical, they like to be seen as being competent. They are curious, require intellectual freedom, and can question authority. They seek perfection in all that they do, including play activities. They seek intellectual stimulation, and value trying to solve intriguing problems. They can be oblivious to emotions at times and can be seen as being detached.
As a Reader
Grammar, spelling and punctuation errors bother them, but a small amount can be overlooked if the rest of the story is compelling. They prefer stories that are well thought out, and have little tolerance for poorly developed magic or other systems that do not seem to follow a logical trajectory. They value brevity and concise communication. They like to analyze any systems that may be at play in the fictional world.
As a Writer
They tend to spend a lot of time thinking and researching. No detail is too small to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and thinking about before proceeding. They tend to overlook the more emotional aspects of stories, such as scene descriptions and emotional expression by characters. They like to bring innovation to their writing. They are constantly seeking to improve their writing skills. They can be hesitant to try new things. Sometimes they can get so lost in the details of a story, and “thinking things through,” that they forget to write the story, or get bored and move on.
In a Writing/Critique Group
They are curious, and value differing viewpoints. They want people to respect them, and to feel valued as a part of the group. They are good problem-solvers, and at organizing a workable system for the group and the group structure, such as how and what is reviewed in the group. They can have a hard time making decisions in an effort to fully think things through. They can be seen as being cold, detached, on unemotional to others, particularly those strongly connected to feelings. They do not tolerate “fools.”
Oranges are free, spontaneous, and impulsively take risks. They are active, optimistic, and thrive on crisis. They are animated and dynamic, love to be the center of attention, and are very competitive. They are generous and optimistic. They are fun, and bring excitement. They need public recognition of their abilities. They are enthusiastic, but tend to over-commit and overestimate results. They act first and think second.
As a Reader
They appreciate stories that cater to their sense of adventure. They like bold books, and love variety on their bookshelves. Formulaic novels bore them to tears, and they may often switch from one story to the next, depending on their current whims. They like stories filled with adventure, in one form or another. They will tend to avoid stories that they see as overly depressing.
As a Writer
They don’t like deadlines. Rules can be important, but sometimes it is just as important to find creative ways to break all the rules. They do not like to feel controlled in their creative endeavors. They like to write big, bold and beautiful. They like to write about action and adventure. Writing is an art, not a science. They are the ultimate, “seat-of-the-pants” writers. Oranges can “figure out the details later, when they get there.” They believe stories should be fun to read.
In a Writing/Critique Group
They can sometimes have trouble fitting in and finding acceptance. They can be competitive, when others do not perceive something as a competition. They bring a spark of fun and adventure to the group. They do not like to make commitments, and may often not keep them, as they prefer to live in the moment. Logic and objectivity do not factor into their behaviors, and they may have a hard time connecting with people who are driven by logic. They prefer a casual feel to the group, rather than a formal structure. They love to talk, and can sometimes dominate conversations.
Anything that is a generalization will always have some margin of error. I meant for this to be fun, and maybe useful, but it no way is it a rigid rule manual for all human behavior. So definitely take things with a grain of salt. Be aware that people usually have one color they are really strong in, one that is a runner-up, and then a distant one (fourth place) that they have the most difficult time with in others.
I would really love to get your feedback. What did your personality come out as? Did the description fit you as a person who loves to read or write fiction? What parts did not fit? Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!
Maslow’s Hierarchy Applied to Fictional Characters
Recently, both of my youngest two children have been dealing with croup, which has reminded me just how much sense Maslow’s Hierarchy makes in everyday lives. My youngest was in the hospital briefly, which also explains the lack of posts. Sorry. 🙂
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes sense in real life, and also makes sense when looking at characters in fiction stories. I recall the symphony director that worked with Metallica on their S & M album talking about how the orchestra sometimes worked harmoniously with the band, and other times worked in disharmony with the band, to create something amazing. I think the same is true in great stories. Humanity can be expressed accurately, through the careful adherence to what is known about humans, or it can be a character study of someone who falls well outside the expected norm. Either way, having an understanding of the norm is an important part of work that embodies the use of such knowledge.
The hierarchy is organized such that each level of the pyramid rests upon the other. So that lower level needs need to be met before higher level needs are able to be met. For example, food is at the bottom, with the idea that someone who is starving is not likely to have the time to spare to worry about whether or not he or she has friends. So physiological needs have to be met before safety and security needs are worried about. Safety and security needs have to be met before social needs are worried about. And so on and so forth.
These are basic, biological survival needs. This includes: Air, Shelter, Water, Food, Sleep, and Sex. Some argue that sex does not belong here, as it is not essential for survival. Maslow argued it is a biological imperative, the drive to procreate.
Safety and Security Needs
The need to feel secure and safe. This includes: Physical Safety, Psychological Safety, Economic Security, and Social Security. Note that this is both physical and psychological. If a tiger is attacking, one is not physically safe. If a tiger may attack at any moment, one does not feel psychologically safe.
This is the need to belong. This includes: Friendship and Family, and the need for Intimacy. As we learn more about the brain, it shows us more and more that we are physically designed within our brain structure to connect with others.
This is having self-respect and the respect of others. This includes: Self-esteem, Confidence, Respect of Others, and Achievement. Notice that we are moving definitely more into the realm of the psychological. The inner world of the person.
A person realizing their full and complete potential. This includes: Creativity, Problem Solving, Innovation, and Fulfillment. Maslow saw achievement of self-actualization this as relatively rare. Think of Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Buddha, and Martin Luther King Jr. Maslow saw most people in real life as being in that state of seeking self-actualization. Oftentimes, characters are in this state as well.
Application to Characters
One obvious application to fictional characters is their story as they strive to meet the needs of one of more levels. In dystopian novels, for example, characters are often trying to meet the basic physiological or safety and security needs. Food and a safe place to live can be compelling needs. Application need not be restricted to the lower levels, however, as there are great stories at all levels of the hierarchy. Think of a character that is striving to find a place where they belong, or people that they belong to. Think of a character trying to achieve something important, while also struggling with self-esteem or identity issues. And at the top of the pyramid we have someone finally able to solve a major problem in the story, or fulfilling some purpose or fulfilling a purpose. Perhaps they had to struggle up the pyramid as the story progresses in order to get to that fulfillment.
One thing about fiction is that characters are often larger than life, or unique. So the characters are often an exaggeration or a unique, uncommon, or even rare circumstance. While Maslow saw it being relatively rare for someone to achieve self-actualization, it happens for characters in fiction stories all the time.
Another way that stories can grab the attention of readers is being going against what is expected. Not everyone knows who Maslow is or what his hierarchy states, but it has really become a part of our culture. Let me give you an example: When we are announcing big news or having an important meeting, we often make sure there is food and refreshments. At work and at home, we strive to ensure our environment is safe and secure, and that comes before things like televisions. I did not research it, but I once read that Einstein wrote important papers while he was young, poor, and alone. So he was able to achieve and apply his creative genius, despite being in a circumstance where he had not met his lower level needs. Doesn’t that make a compelling story? In fact, the case can be made that many historical leaders, both malign and benevolent, cast off the traditional routes of meeting lower needs in order to reach for the upper level needs.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a great example of the application of the hierarchy. This is set up right away as the lowest districts are concerned with basic survival, such as food, while those in the Capitol have such abundant food that they are able to focus on other things like politics and fashion. In fact, that is the very control that the government has over the people, that they hold the survival of the lower districts in their hands. The lower districts are stuck in the bottom of the pyramid, while the upper districts (and the President) are free to meet their esteem and creative needs.
Another facet of this in the Hunger Games is the fact that Katniss is asked to consider the top of the pyramid, while she is still trying to get he needs met at the bottom of the pyramid. She sees herself as just surviving the Hunger Games, while everyone else sees her as fighting for freedom. They ask her to join in the rebellion, forcing her to move to the top of the pyrmaid, when really she has been focused only on her survival needs up to that point.
So a good fictional story, driven by characters can work in concert with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, or work in direct conflict with the theory. Either way, it can make for compelling and interesting characters that are fun to read about.
About This Feature: A Pint with the Professor is a (somewhat) bi-weekly feature where I apply the things I know about psychology, sociology and other related disciplines to fiction. I love thoughtful fiction, and I love hearing from authors and writers of speculative fiction when they think deeply about their fictional worlds and the people and cultures in those worlds. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy putting them together.
One thing you may see from time to time is I am a big advocate for independent writers. I think there are so many great stories out there that not many people have heard of. What a shame, because connecting the stories with an appreciative audience would be a great match. One part of that is just that potential readers may just not have heard of the book.
That is where the Story Cartel comes in. I have actually been meaning to post this for a little while now, since I first heard of this website. It is a website where independent authors can offer their books for free to people, in exchange for the courtesy of a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Isn’t That Just “Buying” a Review?
No. For two reasons. One, in order for it to be buying, money or bribery needs to change hands, and none of that is going on here. Two, the reviews do not have to be favorable or geared in any certain way, there is no pressure to provide only favorable reviews.
Don’t Interdependent Novels Suck?
Yes, some of them do. Some of them are full of holes in the story, misspelled words, and grammar and punctuation errors. There are also some traditionally published works that I happen to think are horrid too. So there is no guarantee in any particular arena that a story is amazing just based on how it was produced. However, there are some amazing writers who have decided to forego that arduous traditional publishing route, and have a great story and product to share. So independent does not equal bad.
To get involved with the Story Cartel, just visit and sign up if you want to be available to review books. You will receive an email, and if a story interests you,you can opt in. You can also opt out by just not responding to that particular email, because not every story is for every person. I am not sure exactly what the process is for getting your work listed if you are a writer, but there is a process for that as well.
I was buying some socks in a discount clothing store. Not one that usually has horrible clothes, but one where the clothing is being sold at a cheaper rate for whatever reason. For my socks, no one is really ever going to see anything but the top of them, and no one has ever asked me for a receipt of where I buy my socks, so these were perfect for me. Nice looking socks to replace my old ones, at a great price.
As I was taking them to my wife, who was finding clothes for my kids as well, I noticed the sticker that said, “SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT STYLE.” I looked over the socks, and could find no discernible problems with them, but it was the sticker I loved. I took it over to my wife and said, “Look at this, it describes me perfectly!” Slightly imperfect style. Too bad my blog already has a name.
Later, I am checking my blog to make sure a post came out okay, and I happened to glance at the new widget that lists the last six posts I “liked” with the like button. Wow, what another great label for me!
I have tried to blog in the past, and it has been tough because I felt like I had to keep my interests separate. I was either a writer, a father, a husband, or a therapist. This was because I read some about blogs and trying to target the audience as a blog writer. This led to me having more than one blog, and unable to keep up in this hectic life I lead. I also realized I loved reading posts by famous authors who wrote about themselves as people, not just stuffy posts about their writing greatness. So I set out to have a blog that went against current wisdom, and contained many of my interests, not just writing.
So here I am, faced with this image on my blog. It has hot pink panties, books, one is actually a parenting type blog, and food glorious, food. I do not actually wear panties, but I am a big fan. I love books, I love being a dad, and I love cooking and eating food. Food, sex, books, and parenting (which is a result of the sex). So there we are, another label that fits me. I hope you enjoy the journey with me as I write about the many things that interest me, from my slightly imperfect style.
I wanted to take a moment and send a shout out for a series of books I had fun reading. Eliei’s Chronicles take place in a dystopian world where parasites are rampant and physically alter the people that they inhabit, in noth positive and negative ways. Elei himself may hold some keys to rebuilding the oppressive world.
Book One and Book Two of the trilogy are out, and Book Three is promised for the summer of 2012. So as of the writing of this, I have only read books One and Two.
Rex Rising is the first book in the main trilogy. The story starts out with action, is written in such a way that is is fairly easy to understand this world, the characters are fun and likable, and the story is interesting and creative. On the con side, the book was simplistic in its writing, but had sex and gore, so it seemed like it could not quite decide between being YA (with the simplistic writing) or adult (with the sexual and graphic elements). I also found myself wishing charters had not said certain things that seemed more akin to our own contemporary world, than to their dystopian world. Even with those weaknesses. I would definitely recommend the book, it was a creative world with colorful characters, and it was definitely a short, but fun read.
Rex Cresting is book two of the main trilogy. There is much character development in this book, and action that is fun and engaging. The final mission and the resolution of the final mission were pretty predictable, and not very climactic. In fact, with none of the developments in the book will you say, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t see THAT coming!” There really are no surprises. However the character development was important for the series, and the action sequences are engaging and fun, so I would still recommend it as a fun speculative fiction read and important to the series.
There is also another book called Hera, about the character named Hera. I have not yet read this book, I am not sure if I will. If I do, I will add a post on the blog.
In short, the series so far is creative and has compelling characters, it really is everything I love about Speculative Fiction. Give it a read!
The author, Chrystalla Thoma seems like a great lady, and has a blog at http://chrystallathoma.wordpress.com/.
3 June, 2012 update: Rex Rising won a reader’s choice award! Congratulations. Told you it was worth reading. 🙂