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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Enneagram (Part 5 - Subtypes)

I've just seen the importance of posting regularly! It was just a few days of slow posting while I was off doing other stuff, like writing and working, and all of a sudden I see my hits drop significantly! So anyway, I figured I'd better get a post out tonight to maintain that regular readership. ;-)

Anyway, a while back I mentioned I was going to post about another aspect of the Enneagram that I had come across. Figured now would be a good time to make good on the promise.

What makes the Enneagram a particularly useful system for film characterization are the numerous layers of complexity it offers up. These complexities offer possibilities for pairing up characters as foils or protagonist and antagonist, and present potential story arcs. In addition to type wings, and stress or security points, another way to differentiate different characters of the same type is with subtypes.

Basically, the idea is that each of the nine types can be expressed in any of three ways: self-preservation, social, or sexual. Essentially, these break down, respectively, to those who are primarily concerned with their own selves and security, communal bonds, or their interpersonal relationships particularly with a partner.

By way of illustration, let's look at the Two: "The Helper." His basic desire is to feel loved, and he will express this desire in distinct manners depending on his subtype. The self-preservation Two takes care of other people's needs, at times childishly, in a bid to "buy love," expecting to be repaid in kind. Social subtypes aim to enhance their social standing by having parties, setting people up, and interacting with other people, in general. Sexual Twos, may be characterized by seductive and potentially manipulative characteristics.

Thus, much as a single character type might fall across a spectrum of psychological health, or might be either of two wings, each type also may take on any of the three primary instinctual drives. In fact, many say that "subtype" is really the wrong term for such aspects, and that "instincts" would be the more accurate term. To be certain, we each possess all three instincts in varying degrees. It is the one that most drives us that would be considered our home instinct, or subtype. While the overall character type may be a result of our formative years -- our "programming" -- the instincts represent our naturally in-born character traits. They are the nature to the primary types' nurture.

The more I explore the Enneagram, the more I see its versatility as a character development tool. Sure, there are nine basic types. But with all these distinct layers of complexity, we see there are really hundreds of different types, if not more.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I run from top to bottom everyone on my Blog Roll, usually once/day minimum so no fear I'll miss anything. But I have been trying to throw something up every few days...

4:26 PM  
Blogger Shawna said...

As another blogger friend once told me, 'you gotta post, or you're toast'.

If you care about readership that is...

I get unnerved every time I move around the TTLB Ecosystem (The Truth Laid Bear, yes the blogger himself is a conservative but any kind of blog can live in the ecosystem, even Gizmodo or Daily Kos).

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

Yeah, more enneagram stuff! By the time I meet you in person, I'm gonna have this so down.

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!
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5:31 AM  

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