9 Positive Character Arcs in the Enneagram

Character arcs aren’t just the stuff of good fiction. They’re also the essence of all personal growth and transformation. Little wonder, then, that some of the best shortcuts writers can find for identifying the most powerful character-arc options are those found in personal development tools such as the Enneagram.

These days, most of us are familiar with the Enneagram as a popular personality theory, which focuses on an interconnected circle of nine possible types.

I like the way Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile describe the Enneagram in their excellent beginners’ book The Road Back to You:

The Enneagram teaches that there are nine different personality styles in the world, one of which we naturally gravitate toward and adopt in childhood to cope and feel safe. Each type or number has a distinct way of seeing the world and an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels, and behaves….

For some people, just being able to recognize themselves in one of the nine types is fun, interesting, and enough to satisfy their curiosity. But the Enneagram also offers a deep rabbit hole for those interested in its many complex layers of theory. An age-old tradition, it comes down to us as not just a personality-typing system but as an “ego-transcendence tool.”

In short, it’s all about transformation. I’ve been studying the Enneagram and using it as a cornerstone of my own personal growth for almost five years now, and I’m not exaggerating when I say its insights have been a major role player in turning my life inside-out and upside-down, in all the best ways. If you’re interested in doing the hard and sometimes scary work of looking deep into your own shadows and rediscovering all the good stuff you’ve lost down there, the Enneagram is an incomparable roadmap for the journey. It is simple on the surface, but grows in profundity the deeper you go. You can take it at your own pace and reap rewards at any level.

And the other thing the Enneagram is great at?

Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs (Amazon affiliate link)

Helping those of us who are writers understand the mechanics of amazing character arcs. Thanks to the polarities and dichotomies revealed in every one of the nine types, the Enneagram also offers solid shortcuts for finding the Lies and Truths that are driving your characters through your stories.

What Is the Enneagram?

Experts will tell you that your Enneagram number is not who you are; it’s who you’re not.

At its simplest, the Enneagram is a map of nine possible ways in which a child’s psyche learns to interact with the external world. These nine methods of survival are highly sophisticated and effective. However, they are limited. In “choosing” to be one type, we necessarily cut off the eight other parts of ourselves. To one degree or another, this creates imbalances in each type, which in turn can lead to dysfunction, confusion, and even suffering.

The Enneagram, then, helps us see which number we’ve identified with, so we can learn how to grow past this shallow ego identity and into a fuller realization of our whole selves. Sounds like a character arc to me!

9 Positive Character Arcs in the Enneagram

Today, I want to quickly explore nine positive character arcs in the Enneagram personality system. The information I’m sharing here is drawn from my own experience and study, but most specifically from the work of Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson. Although I appreciate the incredible depth and complexity they bring to their teachings on the Enneagram, I also like the simplicity of the words they choose when comparing certain aspects of the various types. The suggested Lie the Character Believes as shown for each type and some of the other phrasings are quoted from their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Both this book and their earlier work Personality Types (which I mentioned in my post: “5 Ways to Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters“) are filled with charts, graphs, and scannable type comparisons that are rich fodder for any novelist or character-arc enthusiast. A brief perusal of either book makes it easy to start picking out possible Lies, Truths, Needs, Wants, and backstory Ghosts for your characters—which you can then personalize for your story.

If you’re interested in further study of the Enneagram, I also recommend The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut and the podcasts “Enneagram 2.0” by Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes and “The Enneagram Journey” by Suzanne Stabile.

1. The Reformer’s Arc: Resentment to Integrity

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to make mistakes.”

Also sometimes called the Perfectionist, Type Ones at their best represent responsibility and idealism. At their worst, they come across as judgmental and obsessive. Their core vice (or “passion“) is an under-the-surface resentment, born out of their frustration that their attempts to make a better world are stymied and/or unappreciated.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by an unconscious fear of their own badness or defectiveness. Their arc challenges them to come into true integrity by claiming all parts of themselves, recognizing the good not just in themselves but in the world around them. They offer the gift of being able to improve the world for themselves and others. When done from a place of love, this enables them to find a higher purpose.

Mr Darcy Matthew Macfayden Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Type One: Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (all character examples typed by Charity Bishop of the great personality Tumblr Funky MBTI Fiction)

2. The Helper’s Arc: Pride to Unconditional Love

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to have your own needs.”

Also sometimes called the Caretaker, Type Twos at their best represent kindness and generosity. At their worst, they come across as intrusive and needy. Their core vice is a sense of pride that particularly focuses on their need to believe in their own virtue, usually demonstrated by showing compassion or aid to others at the expense of their own needs.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by a probably unconscious fear that they are not worthy of being loved—and therefore must earn it through their good deeds to others. Their arc challenges them to grow beyond just a pretense of love and into a truly unconditional love that, by also encompassing their own needs, allows them to more fully and authentically serve others. When healthy, they offer the gift of nurturing and caring for the world around them.

Type Two: Isobel Crawley from Downton Abbey

3. The Achiever’s Arc: Vanity to Authenticity

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to have your own feelings and identity.”

Also sometimes called the Role Model, Type Threes at their best represent productivity and adaptability. At their worse, they come across as image-conscious and emotionally out of touch. Their core vice is a misdirected vanity, which they try to hide behind the mask of their accomplishments—a sort of self-deceit designed to cover up their inner sense of inadequacy.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by an unconscious fear that their only value lies in their external achievements. Their arc challenges them to grow beyond their over-identification with how they are viewed by others and into a deeply realized authenticity. When healthy, they offer the true gift of bearing witness to the intrinsic value in themselves and others.

Type Three: Philip Carlisle in The Greatest Showman

4. The Individualist’s Arc: Envy to Equanimity

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to be too functional or too happy.”

Also sometimes called the Romantic, Type Fours at their best represent creativity and idealism. At their worst, they come across as self-absorbed and unrealistic. Their core vice is a painful envy, born out of their sense that they are somehow more deficient than other people or that something essential is missing from their lives.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by an unconscious fear that they somehow lack personal identity or significance. Their arc challenges them to accept the beauty and perfection inherent within themselves, so they can recognize their own worth and move into a genuine sense of self-esteem. When healthy, they offer the gift of being able to release the past and live fully in the present.

Type Four: Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series

5. The Investigator’s Arc: Avarice to Non-Attachment

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to be comfortable in the world.”

Also sometimes called the Observer, Type Fives at their best represent perceptiveness and self-reliance. At their worst, they come across as cynical and emotionally unavailable. Arguably the most introverted of the types, Fives’ core vice of “avarice” refers to a “lack mentality” that urges them to conserve their inner resources against a world that seems inclined to demand too much from them.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by an unconscious fear that, at their core, they are incompetent or incapable of meeting the demands of others. Their arc challenges them to grow into the surrender and serenity of non-attachment—an acceptance that each moment offers enough to meet their needs. When healthy, they offer the gift of being able to observe both themselves and others without judgment or expectations.

Amping Your Story Stakes: Why Even Positive Events Should Have Consequences

Type Five: Alan Grant in Jurassic Park

6. The Loyalist’s Arc: Anxiety to Inner Peace

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to trust yourself.”

Also sometimes called the Traditionalist, Type Sixes at their best represent loyalty and responsibility. At their worst, they come across as reactive and fearful. Their core vice is often talked about as fear, but is really more of a never-ending simmer of often nameless anxiety.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by the (actually pretty conscious) fear of being without support or guidance in a dangerous and untrustworthy world. Their arc challenges them to grow into, first, a powerful trust in their own reliability and, second, into a surrendered belief in the inherent goodness of life. When healthy, they offer the gift of true courage and capability in handling life’s challenges.

Type Six: Rapunzel in Tangled

7. The Enthusiast’s Arc: Gluttony to Joy

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to depend on anyone for anything.”

Also sometimes called the Energizer, Type Sevens at their best represent optimism and fun. At their worst, they come across as impulsive and undisciplined. Their core vice of “gluttony” refers to an insatiable desire to immerse themselves in experience after experience as a way of distracting themselves from inner fears and pain.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by unconscious fears of being deprived, abandoned, or trapped. Their arc challenges them to grow beyond a pursuit of shallow distraction into an embodied joy. When healthy, they offer the gift of sharing this joyful celebration of existence with everyone around them.

Type Seven: Jonathan Strange in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

8. The Challenger’s Arc: Intensity to Innocence

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to be vulnerable or trust anyone.”

Also sometimes called the Leader, Type Eights at their best represent boldness and decisiveness. At their worst, they come across as domineering and combative. Their core vice is a lust to experience intensity in every moment of their lives, as a way to escape their own fears and deny their own weaknesses.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by the unconscious fear that they might experience helplessness under the the control or betrayal of someone else. Their arc challenges them to return to the trusting innocence of their lost childhoods. When healthy, they offer the gift of being able to stand up for not just themselves but for all those who need a protector.

Princess Leia Star Wars New Hope Carrie Fisher

Type Eight: Leia Organa in Star Wars

9. The Peacemaker’s Arc: Resignation to Right Action

Core Lie the Character Believes: “It’s not okay to assert yourself.”

Also sometimes called the Healer, Type Nines at their best represent tranquility and reliability. At their worst, they come across as passive-aggressive and apathetic. Their core vice is a resignation to their lot, a desire to remove themselves from the struggle of life, out of a belief that they cannot truly impact it for the good of themselves or others.

The deep-seated Lie of their personality is fueled by the unconscious fear that in taking certain stands (both internally and externally), they risk feeling disconnected and adrift from others. Their arc challenges them to rise into a discernment of and ability to take “right action” on behalf of themselves and others. When healthy, they offer the gift of bringing peace and healing to the world around them.

Type Nine: Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility

***

There you have it! Nine Positive Change Arcs for your characters (or yourself)! What I’ve shared here barely scratches the surface of Enneagram wisdom and teachings about the nine types. If you’re interested in pursuing the journey further, I highly recommend checking out some of the resources mentioned above.

And what if your character is (sadly) on a downward spiral? Glad you asked, because next week, we’ll be taking a look at nine possible negative character arcs you can find in the Enneagram.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! Have you ever explored character arcs in the Enneagram (or any other personal-development tool)? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Thanks for another thought provoking tool. I have not used the Enneagram, but I have considered the Myers-Briggs and Power 5 personality models, preferring the Power 5 which I find both more nuanced and better supported by research testing, though I do which they would come up with better names for some of their attributes. Frankly, I don’t think I know enough about the Enneagram to comment on it at this point.

  2. FEBOULAICH says

    Dear KM Weiland, I really would like to know how to connect the Eneagram arcs to the archetypical character arcs. Aren’t they connected?
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice you offer so freely. Love your blog!

    • Miriam Harmon says

      I agree. That would make sense. Like the Six would likely be a Maiden arc, since it’s about fear versus courage. But what about the others?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is definitely something I have pondered, but I’ve yet to see a clear correlation between the progression of Life Arc archetypes I’ve talked about in my series on archetypal character arcs and the Enneagram types.

    • Because there’s 6 archetypes and 9 Enneagram types, there won’t be a direct correlation. However, you could possibly combine them to add more nuance to the archetypes. For example, instead of having a simple Maiden coming-of-age story, you could have an Achiever Maiden learning to step away from a family who pushes academic success over her own happiness, or a Helper Maiden who cares for elderly parents but neglects her own needs.

  3. Wanda Bowring says

    yes but I’ve used archetypes. I’ve been studying that for years to know myself. Caroline Myss and Robert Ohotto (modern), Joseph Campbell (historic) and others. I’ve never looked at the enneagram but I can see it’s something I’d like. I’m the investigator and challenger (from your short description) but no doubt as we mature and round out, we’re all of the parts in varying degrees and in certain areas of our lives. Thanks for the post.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The Enneagram offers a lot of complexities and interesting theories to explore. One central aspect is that each number “goes to” two other numbers in “stress or security” (as shown by the connecting lines in the Enneagram symbol). Another sub-theory is that of the tri-type, in which each person identifies not just with a core number, but with numbers that correspond to each “center” (body/heart/mind), giving us each three potential numbers.

      • The theory of the Trifix, or the fixated personality in each of the three instincts; Conservation of Self, Relation with Others and Adaptation to the environment, is the dynamic process of the ego. This is still taught by Oscar Ichazo’s school, Arica, and I find it adds an incredible depth to the enneagram.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          I agree. I’ve seen teachers who argue against it, but it makes all the sense in the world to me.

  4. This is so interesting, I first came across your website when I was very deep in the enneagram hole a few months ago, and as I read more and more of your posts I started to feel like you were a Type 1, Ms. Weiland. Am I right about that (of course goes without saying but you don’t need to answer if you don’t want to)? I myself am a 9 with a strong 1-wing.

    Anyway, thank you, because both your character arc theory and the enneagram took me a long way to plotting the story I’m now writing!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      If you ascribe to the tritype theory (as I tend to), which allows for a number to be chosen from each of the three intelligence centers, then I am a One in the body center. But my core number is Three. My tritype is 3-5-1.

      Eight, Nine, and One are the body numbers.

      Two, Three, and Four are the heart numbers.

      Five, Six, Seven are the head numbers.

  5. Miriam Harmon says

    Is it possible to be stuck between two or more types? I can’t decide if my bitter and cynical protagonist is an eight or a four….or another type. Same with myself. I’m stuck between multiple types for my own personality. How do you tell whether you are one type of the other? Or for your characters?
    Great post as always! And can you give us the enneagram and Myers type of the Wayfarer characters? That might help me compare them better.

    • I’m not too experienced as a writer, but here’s what I’m inclined to think: if you intuitively feel like your character already works for the story you’re writing, I wouldn’t bother trying to force them into an enneagram box. At the end of the day the audience doesn’t care what a character’s type is – the enneagram’s just a tool to help YOU write the character, and if it gets in the way of that, I would just disregard it.

      As for figuring out your own type – I won’t tell you it’s impossible for you to be multiple, but from my experience, as you study the enneagram more and more, one type usually does emerge as the “winner” (for lack of a better term). I went through the exact same thing, and it took months for me to come to a real conclusion. Another thing to note is that everyone does have each personality type within them, it’s just that a couple dominate over the rest. So if you’re genuinely torn between two, then from a personal-growth standpoint, whichever one is the “main type” doesn’t really matter. Cause you’d probably want to work on improving both those aspects of yourself regardless.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The short answer is no. Each person will have one core type/fixation. However, as mentioned in previous comments, there are many complexities to this, which link each type to other types. In addition, the tritype theory suggests that, although we still are one *main* type, we do exhibit a particular number for each of the three intelligence centers. In this instance, because Four is a heart number and Eight is a body number, it’s possible that your character could demonstrate both (although, again, one will be primary). S/he would also have a head number (Five, Six, or Seven).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Also, regarding Wayfarer, I typed Will as an ISFP 3, Rose as an ENTJ 8, and Isabel as an ENFP 7.

      • Miriam Harmon says

        I’m happy to say I’ve studied the enneagram since my comment and I think I understand it now. Ironically, I typed that protagonist as (primarily) an ENTJ 8 as well! I still struggle with Myers though. It seriously feels like I, or one of my characters, could be all of them, so I’m not sure. If taken letter by letter, my protag is more INTP, but for overall type I think she’s ENTJ. I lean towards ENFP/ENTP 4.
        This has been helping though. I think I like type 8 characters ”better” than others, but the others are still fun to play with.
        Thanks for answering!

  6. I’ve used the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and OCEAN to gain more insight into characters, but I’ve never used Ennegrams for character arcs before. I’m not that familiar with them, so this was really fun. I think I’m working with a 2 and a 7 right now. (I’m a 4, which reminds me a lot of the KT Idealist.) So fun!

    There’s a sort of personality test comedian on YT that did a funny video on Ennegrams. His name is Frank James. You might want to look it up if you’re looking for a laugh. He does lots of Myers-Briggs videos exaggerating their personalities. Some of them are really funny.

    Thank you for the inisights!

  7. George Agathangelou says

    This is a great topic. I have use the Enneagram myself and found it really helpful, but also quite complex. Would you consider writing further posts or even a book on this topic?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I will be doing a follow-up post next week, and I’m sure I’ll write more about it in the future as it is one of my favorite subjects. 🙂

  8. I used to take the 16 Personalities test for my main characters – answering the questions the way they would. It was fun and enlightening! Then I started writing a book with 7 POVs and didn’t have time to do all the tests 😛 . I just took the test again for my MC and main antagonist – it was fun to see the ways their results were different, but also how eerily alike they were (which, I think, is what makes them a good protag/antag pairing). Thanks Katie!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Although I find MBTI extremely helpful in my own life, I’ve come to like the Enneagram better as a character tool. I find it much less complicated for typing large casts, while still offering lots of insights for character development or for checking that a character’s motives and actions are aligned and realistic.

  9. Colleen F Janik says

    My question here likely reveals something about my personality type, but I will ask anyway. Do people ever really change? I believe that children and young adults might have a period of time where they are still forming their own distinctive personalites and belief systems, but from my experience, it seems that no matter people (adults) see or experience, they are basically locked into their own set opinions. They will find other explanations for what they see and nothing will change their minds.
    Or is that a different personality type, that refuses to learn and change?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      A core principle of the Enneagram theory is that people can and do change–in specific ways that involve healing and overcoming their own personal core wounds. I can attest from my own lived experience that profound change is possible. Still, we are changing *within* our personality types; we’re not changing the types themselves.

  10. Love seeing you dive into this! I’ve built my methodology around using it in combination with a modified story circle and have teaching this to my story and design mentees for years. It’s such a fantastic tool and it helps them reflect and nurture healthier mindsets about their own creative process as well ❤️ Recently started using it to help entrepreneurs write their brand stories too and it’s super efficient 🙂

  11. This is the sort of thing I love to explore, often to distraction. I’m curious to see how it applies to my characters. Looking forward to your next article!

  12. Great reference! I think all of this is why I’ve usually preferred using Enneagram types to MBTI when hashing out characters and character arcs.

    I know people tend to get hung up on the reliability/accuracy nuts and bolts, but I’ve never felt like it’s an “I must follow my character’s type description to a fine grain/consult the Enneagram docs before writing any character action” scenario. More “I’m fuzzy on where my character’s arc is going/how they’d act in situation, but these are some common patterns among people with similar core motivations”. Sometimes that sparks a solution, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s been a handy brainstorming tool either way.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally agree. When it comes to writing, I find my own best approach, like yours, is to use personality types as a troubleshooting tool for when things aren’t “singing,” rather than trying to shoehorn characters or situations into them.

  13. Ooh, this is interesting! I added enneagram numbers for each of my characters at the end of their character interviews because I felt like it was helpful. But this gave me new words for my main character, who is a nine. Resignation to right action is totally her arc over the course of the book. What she wants is just for everything to stay the same and maintain the illusion of peace by not speaking up. At times that has felt like it was too passive to be the driving desire of the main character, but everything is conspiring against her to make it difficult for her to avoid conflict and change until she actively decides to take the right action and speak up. This post has made me feel a lot better about her arc being valid, so thank you!

  14. This is my first introduction to the enneagram and I find it fascinating! I have come up as an ISFJ on personality tests but in the last year have gone through some major life stuff and I’m not sure that I would even test the same anymore. I have definitely changed, 100% for the better.

    I would love to see some diving into personality disorders as character fodder. Through therapy this year I discovered that I was at one time clinically diagnosable with a personality disorder which was a large part of the puzzle of why other people treated me the way they did. Even though this year I was no longer clinically diagnosable (I had made progress in healing past it without professional help, amazingly), the last vestiges of the disorder were still trapping me and needed to be dealt with before finding a true freedom. Fascinating, truly, when looking at it from the perspective of the writer!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I do find that many of the personality tests–especially MBTI–aren’t particularly accurate. They can be good for helping us get a sense of what a system is all about and what type we *might* be, but in my experience, they type people wrong more often than not. IMO, the best way to discover one’s type is to study the system and decide for yourself what you think you may be.

      • I took several Myers-Briggs based tests at the time and kept coming up very similarly. I agreed with the conclusions at the time–I felt like the ISFJ described me pretty well.

        Now, though, my own perception of myself has widely changed. For instance, I used to think of myself as introverted. Now I understand that I have a deep yearning to connect with people, but it’s shadowed and hindered by a deep-seated fear of abandonment and betrayal… I have an insecure attachment style.

        This leads right into my most thought-provoking realization regarding personality disorders: true brain chemistry problems aside, most if not all personality disorders (and it extends to probably other emotional disorders and disordered thinking as well) have a root of fear. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of being exposed, fear of being betrayed, fear of losing control… Anger is often a cover for fear. Fear of our own emotions even (grief especially) can lead down dark trails.

        Maybe you’ve even written about this before, but I think that the key to unlocking a character may be to ask the question, “What is his/her consuming fear?” Boom. You have a motivation, you have the lie they believe. You have a window into their backstory, you have a good grasp on a Ghost, and if they are traveling a positive arc, they will mature from the disordered thinking of being wrapped up in that specific fear to walking in freedom of more ordered thinking that allows them to see themselves and the world around them in a healthier way. And if the story is written well, the external plot will be related and support that arc tangibly. I’m pretty excited about this discovery!

        Just some thoughts! 😀

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Good for you. Shadow work is so challenging, but also so rewarding. And I agree, fear is at the root of almost everything.

  15. This was amazing. Loved it!

  16. Victoria C Leo says

    Really enjoyed this. I did Enneagram stuff back when I was a therapist, but forgot about it as a writer…. thank you!!

    I’m jotting notes on my important secondary characters. A guide for how they grow because that can provide impetus for the protagonist on her journey with the theme.

  17. Longtime reader. I do a lot of beta-reading through Fiverr, and I regularly recommend your resources to my clients. First time commenter though. This post made me think very much of Jer’s Clifton’s work at UPenn’s Primal Project. I think you might find it interesting: https://myprimals.com/research/

  18. A. Fitzgerald says

    Today I learned my protagonist is the Eight-est Eight to have ever Eighted. The description is almost scary in how accurate it is.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’ve yet to meet an Eight who wasn’t the Eight-est. 😉 It comes with their territory! Makes them super fun to write.

  19. I Looove this topic and I always use the enneagram to create character arcs. Since I am a type 4/Individualist, most of the stories I’ve written have featured this type as the main character. Individualist are fun/complicated (depending how you look at them) because they are so emotional. I’ve identified their lie as ‘I have no significance/am unworthy’ They therefore often suffocate their true identity and take on other identities in an attempt to fit in. For example, one story I’ve written is about a jewelry maker who didn’t believe in the quality/ need of her work. She was shamed by her mother that her idea to sell her jewelry for a living was impractical and would get her nowhere in life. She therefore dropped this identity and became a nurse instead and resigned to making jewelry for her daughter. After a few children, she felt that being a nurse was a burden on her and wanted to drop it, but was scared of disappointing her mother who had paid for her nursing school. Furthermore, people began noticing the unique jewelry her daughter wore and wanted to pay her to make some for them, which was something she really wanted to do. Her arc involved her standing up to her mother and dropping being a nurse and owning her original desire/identity to make jewelry. In order to do this, she needed to overcome the shame she felt about the worthiness of her jewelry-making

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yay for Type 4s! Both my 3 and my 5 (in the tritype) wing 4. They make juicy characters. I think Luna Lovegood is my all-time fave.

      • Perhaps you are a 4 with a 5 and 3 wing! I used to think I was a 5 because I loved analyzing and thinking, especially when I was stressed out, but then I realized I was too much into appearances to be a solid five (who often neglect externals) but I was also way too insecure to be a three who can block off their emotions to try to reach the top. Then I realized I identified so much with 3 and 5 because they were my wings, but my central challenges in life involved dealing with my feelings of unhappiness with who I am

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          No, I’m definitely a 3. When I started reading about the Enneagram, I thought I’d be a core 5, but as soon as I got to the 3, I felt like I’d been hit by a semi. In a good way. Mostly. 😉

  20. Christina Lefebvre says

    This was an absolutely fabulous segment. Great job with writing the episode!!

  21. Hi KM,

    Thank you for introducing me to the Enneagram! I’m really interested in the possibility of the Enneagram as a tool for considering character arcs.

    I also think Enneagram can help writers understand themselves and how they might focus their writing. For instance, this post inspired me to do the Enneagram test and I came out as a six wing seven. Now I can see why so many of my stories center on core themes of identifying, nurturing, and protecting a core group of friends, family, and community. At the same time, I gravitate towards stories involving fun, humor, excitement, and wonder. My favorite genres and sub-genres tend to combine loyalist concerns with enthusiast generic components, such as space opera, buddy comedy, or paranormal romance. Often it’s the joyful and wondrous aspects of the world that inspire and enable characters to overcome their anxieties about fitting in or protecting their loved ones.

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