(Astrology as a method of character development)
Thanks to Ken Farmer for reminding me of this trick.
One of the things you need to know in order to develop your characters is their personality. One “quick and dirty” trick to getting a start on this is to use astrology.
I’m not necessarily advocating astrology – or even stating whether or not I believe in it – but any good astrology website will give you a great little personality profile. That will give you a starting place for your character’s development.
You can go about this in two basic ways:
- Pick a random birthdate for your character and investigate the sign associated with that birthdate.
- Read through an astrology site and see if any of the personality charts sound like your character.
Let’s look at how this works.
Here’s what the website has to say about Gemini (Chance’s sign):
“A Gemini can change his clothes, his job, his love life or his residence as fast as he changes his mind, and that’s pretty fast. Finding a good example to study may keep you hopping. You could try a bookstore. He’s a browser, because he can get the gist of the contents in a brief scanning of the pages. (It’s no accident that John F. Kennedy was a speed reader.) Mercury people also have that nasty habit of reading the last page first.
When you’ve found this quicksilver person, study him carefully, even if you do get exhausted following him around. The first thing you’ll notice is a nervous energy that fairly snaps, crackles and pops in the air around him. An occasional Gemini will speak slowly, but most of them talk fast. All of them listen fast.
Man or woman, Gemini is impatient with conservative stick-in-the-muds, or with people who can’t make up their minds where they stand on particular issues. Gemini knows where he stands, at least for the moment.
Unless there’s a conflicting ascendant, the Gemini build is generally slender, agile and taller than average. Many of them have small, sharp features, as if they were cut in a cameo. You’ll find some with brown eyes, of course, but the majority of those ruled by Mercury will have beautiful, crystal-clear hazel, blue, green or gray eyes that twinkle and dart here and there. Geminis never rest their eyes on one object for more than a few seconds. In fact, their alert, quick-moving eyes are often the easiest way to recognize them. The complexion tends to be rather pale, yet they usually tan easily, and that’s the way to spot them in the summer. (In the winter, they often have wind bums from swooping down a ski slope.)
There’s an eagerness about Geminis, an immediate, sympathetic friendliness, and unusually quick, but graceful movements. The hair can be light or dark or both-like, streaked. Twins, remember? The nose is likely to be long and straight or dainty-in either case, probably well formed. There’s frequently a receding hairline in the men (from all that activity in the brain, perhaps), and both sexes normally have rather high foreheads.”
You can see that not only does a good chart give personality traits, but also some physical features. This can be quite useful for fleshing out that secondary character – or even figuring out what your main characters look like.
Try this technique the next time you’re wondering about one of your characters. I think you’ll be pleased with how much information you can get from an astrology chart.