Wednesday, April 6, 2011

REVIEW: Enneagrams for Character Building

by Carolyn Gibbs

If you'd like an addition to your tool box for creating characters, and what writer wouldn't, check out BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS CREATING WITH ENNEAGRAMS by Laurie Schnebly. I learned about this book while taking an online class at Savvy

Enneagram is a system used to identify the nine personality types all writers should know: the Perfectionist, Nurturer, Archiever, Romantic, Observer, Skeptic, Adventurer, Leader and Peacemaker. The method is a psychological tool used by counselors and human resource professionals to identify personality types, and shows how people will react in given situations based on their type.

Laurie Schnebly, a romance author, takes enneagrams a step further and shows how each of the types relate to each other when paired. After explaining how enneagrams work, there is a chapter for each type which breaks down how these types see themselves and how they handle situations. Each type is described -- the type's heroic strengths, their fatal flaws, how the type was as a child, how the type relates at work, and most importantly, relationships and how they would relate to each type. It's kind of like Love Signs for personality types. Schnebly also demonstrates how five characters she uses as examples, would come into conflict by applying their enneagram type. She uses a detective, a princess, a cowboy, a teenager and a career woman to show how the enneagram types influence their behavior.

To help you identify a character's type there is a short quiz at the beginning of each chapter, to determine if the character fits that type. You can also use the quizzes to determine your own type or loved ones. This is a fast and fun way to help you determine a type for a character. This method is also great to help you refine a character you're writing but are having difficulty with, and to help build the back story and motivation that will bring the conflict your story needs.

BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS CREATING WITH ENNEAGRAMS is a nice addition to our writer's tool box, and one written by a romance author who understands the nuances of plotting a romance story.

The book is as entertaining as it is helpful, so be prepared to spend some time playing around and having fun, but not too much, after all you've got a book to write.♥

Carolyn Gibbs has been published in short fiction – “Holiday House Guest” available at – and is busy bringing new characters to life.


  1. This is a terrific resource, Carolyn and I can't believe I'd never heard of it before! I am a total fiend about addressing the psychological aspects of my characters and focusing on how they would react in given situations, in order to make my conflict powerful, the resolutions believable, and my romance relationship riveting. I always did this when acting and it has followed me into my new creative life. Definitely a must have and your review/description was the decider! Thanks for sharing Carolyn.

  2. Thanks Lise, its a good resource for delving into the psychological natures of our characters and how they relate to others.