Creating a Character — Part IV

In an earlier post, I suggested using the Luscher color test as a means of profiling a character. To see if it would work, I had Chip, the hero of my work in progress, take the test at www.colorquiz.com.

I know enough about Chip and about colors to figure out what his choices might be. Green signifies a stable and balanced character, so that was Chip’s first choice. Blue, signifying tranquility, was his second. Brown, signifying a down-to-earth character was his third. Gray, signifying a preference for a safe, secure and balanced existence was next. Magenta, orange, and yellow were a toss-up since he didn’t particularly care for any of them, and black, signifying negativity, was his last choice.

This was the result of the test:

His Existing Situation: Uneasy and insecure in the existing situation. Needs greater security and a more affectionate environment, or a situation imposing less physical strain.

His Stress Sources: Wishes to be independent, unhampered, and free from any limitation or restriction, other than those which he imposes of himself or by his own choice and decision.

His Restrained Characteristics: Egocentric (self-conscious) and therefore quick to take offense. Wants to broaden his fields of activity and insists that his hopes and ideas are realistic. Distressed by the fear that he may be prevented from doing what he wants; needs both peaceful conditions and quiet reassurance to restore his confidence.

His Desired Objective: Needs a peaceful environment. Wants release from stress, and freedom from conflicts or disagreement. Takes pains to control the situation and its problems by proceeding cautiously. Has sensitivity of feeling and a fine eye for detail.

His Actual Problem: Does not wish to be involved in differences of opinion, contention or argument, preferring to be left in peace.

If you have been following Chip’s development, you can see that this is an interesting and accurate profile. I might have all of my characters take it, especially the minor characters who don’t need a full character sketch. Feel free to do the same.

Cheat Your Way to a Colorful Character

The Luscher color test for gaining accurate psychological information about a person has been around for six decades, and though it is not widely used in the United States, it is prevalent in Europe.

A few years ago, I bought the book, thinking to take the test, but I never could decide which of the colors I liked best; they all looked murky to me. Even if I did manage to arrange the color cards in order of preference, I would have had to go through all the equations to figure out what that order meant, and it seemed to be a lot of trouble for nothing. I set the book aside, promising to take the test some day, and that book has been sitting on the shelf taunting me. But no longer.

I found the test on-line today at colorquiz.com, and took it. Finally. In some respects it was surprisingly accurate. It said I felt restricted and prevented from progressing; that I was seeking a solution to remove these limitations. Which does describe my quest for publication. It also said that the fear of being prevented from achieving the things I want leads me into a relentless search for satisfaction in the pursuit of illusory or meaningless activities. Like this blog, perhaps?

The results were divided into six sections: the existing situation, stress sources, restrained characteristics, the desired objective, the actual problem, and the actual problem 2. Those sections seemed familiar, and then it occurred to me they were similar to the character profile I create when outlining a new novel.

So, here’s how to cheat your way to a colorful character: if you don’t want to go through the trouble of figuring out what your character wants, what stresses him, what his secondary problem is (the primary problem you already know; it’s the story problem) go to the color quiz website, imagine you are your character, and pick the colors your character would choose. Instant profile.

You still have to write the character, but at least you won’t have to worry about making him psychologically realistic.

I meant to be facetious by suggesting this, but now that I think about it, it’s not a bad idea. I might follow my own advice.