Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's Your Sign?

Cricket McRae

Beauty is all well and good, but beauty plus practicality gets me going every time. I was talking with a friend about my grand plans to create a potager garden in the backyard. In case you're wondering, a potager is a vegetable/herb/edible flower garden which has been landscaped like a decorative garden, with borders and hardscape planted for aesthetic value as well as plenty of edible produce.

My friend remarked that I’m such a nut (Nut? Bah.) about such things because I'm a Taurus.


Fine. Take my fabulous and unique personality and boil it down to a star sign. A quick online search told me the other things which supposedly define the majority of us born in May.

Loyal, patient, calm, good with money. Good cook and homemaker. Nurturing. Warm-hearted, fair-minded, unpresumptuous, down-to-earth. Dependable. Strong. Trustworthy. Efficient, nature-loving, morally and emotionally courageous. Healthy. Not easily provoked or deceived. Generous.

Looky there. I'm a saint. Maybe this astrological stuff is right on the money after all.

Oh wait. There's more?

Thick-necked (!) Lazy, plodding, conservative. Overindulgent, stubborn and resistant to change. Sensitive, aggressive, stoic. Obstinate. Fond of luxury. Materialistic. Have a propensity to gamble. Either muscular or plump (depending on the degree of laziness one exhibits). Fond of fine food and drink.

Good Lord. I sound like Henry VIII.

So there you go. Forget the 25 random things about me tags, the Facebook quizzes; there I am in a nutshell.

Did I mention the tendency toward sarcasm?

Despite having neither a propensity to gamble nor being particularly resistant to change (Random thing: I've lived in fifteen different towns, three of them twice.), I'm fascinated by how the characteristics reflect two sides of the same personality coin.

I'm playing around with a new series idea, and want the characters, none of whom I've written about before, to be fully developed before I plot too much. In my experience those kinds of characters practically plot themselves, making my job a heck of a lot easier. This admittedly cursory look at the zodiac made me think about their personalities in terms of how traits may be interpreted differently by those around them: Is my protagonist practical or plodding? Strong or obstinate? Depends on your point of view.
Alternatively, the same trait might be affected by nature or nuture. For example, someone who could be good with money ends up being a gambler instead because they're lazy and overindulgent.

Now, I'm not sure I'm inclined to assign my characters zodiac signs as launch pads for their personalities, but it's a thought. At least I might mix it in with my usual detailed backstory and occasional character interviews.

How do you add layers of meaning and motivation to your primary and secondary characters? Have you ever thought about your characters' astrological signs?


Alan Orloff said...

Meaning and motivation for characters? What kind of writer are you, anyway? :)

I, for one, have never used--or even considered--zodiac signs for revealing character traits. But maybe I will now. (Actually, maybe I'll have a character who scoffs at the notion.)

For the record, I'm a Scorpio.

Jess Lourey said...

Oy, Scorpios and Taurii--it's a strange mix. I'm a Gemini, and I love the idea of horoscoping characters to make sure they are complex and well-rounded. Thanks for the tip, Cricket!

G.M. Malliet said...

My mother was a Taurus, and a world-class gardener. She would have loved the garden you have planned. There you have it - definitive proof there's something to this astrology thing. ;-)

Feeding the Grey Cells said...

I am a Leo ....and these are some traits that are listed for Leos ..Leos very dominant and powerful. Like the king of the beasts, they have a majestic way about themselves. They like to be in command of their own kingdom, be it big or small. But, Leos are also loving, often being referred to by many astrologers as "eternal children" because Leos love to live in the moment and are quick to give affection.

Hmmmm.... "eternal children" yet powerful and majestic...fashion a character after that one---lol.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

This post led me to wonder about the compatibility between me and my main protangonist, Odelia Grey. After all, I spend a lot of time with her. Apparently, Odelia is a Leo. I am a Sagittarious. According to horoscope buzz, we are both fire signs and are very compatible with each other. Whew, glad to hear that, since I'll be tied to Odelia for at least 7 more books!

Cricket McRae said...

Alan's a Scorpio; that explains a lot. ; - >

Taurii -- Never thought about that before. I like it.

Sounds like your mother and I could have talked for hours, Gin.

As for creating a character based on a Leo -- I don't have to, I live with one. And yes, he manages to somehow embody both those qualities.

Sue Ann, I just realized I have no idea what Sophie Mae's sign is. Ack. Looking forward to all those Odelia books on the way, though.