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Characterization: The Four Personalities

One way to approach characterization—to fully develop both your POV and secondary characters—is to take an intensive look at the four different temperaments/personalities.

Understanding what makes us tick helps in the crafting of memorable characters. We all have our own distinct personalities, but each of us will usually fit into one of the following four categories: Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Melancholy and Choleric.

Here’s a quick look at the definitions of the four temperaments.

CHOLERIC

  • Cholerics make good leaders.
  • Cholerics know how to get the job done.
  • Cholerics are usually hard workers.
  • Cholerics like to be the boss.
  • Cholerics can be a little stubborn.
  • Cholerics can be bad-tempered at times.
  • Cholerics are easily angered at times.
  • Cholerics have a tendency to think they are always right.

SANGUINE

  • Most Sanguines are very outgoing.
  • Sanguines seem to do well in crowds.
  • Sanguines have the uncanny ability to make friends with absolute strangers. Sanguines are fun, fun loving, and great to be around – most of the time. Sanguines often like to be the center of attention.
  • Sanguines often dominate conversations.

MELANCHOLY

  • Melancholies make good leaders.
  • Melancholies know how to get the job done.
  • Melancholies are often very hard workers.
  • Melancholies like to be the boss.
  • Melancholies can be a little stubborn.
  • Melancholies can be bad-tempered at times.
  • are easily angered.
  • Melancholies have a tendency to think that they are always right.
  • Melancholies are very sensitive to the needs of others.
  • Melancholies are deep thinkers.
  • Melancholies are often organized, making lists.
  • Melancholies tend to be a little withdrawn at times. Melancholies often worry about things.

PHLEGMATIC

  • Like “phlegm,” phlegmatics need to be forced up or down.
  • Phlegmatics are often easy going/laid back.
  • Phlegmatics don’t mind not being the center of attention.
  • Phlegmatics don’t mind working to help others. Phlegmatics often go along with the crowd.
  • Phlegmatics are more followers than leaders.

What can I do with this information?

The four personalities can work for each other or against, depending on the situation. Take a look at Pandora’s box lesson for a thorough look at how you might use these volatile personalities to create characters your readers will never forget.

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