Monday, January 26, 2009

The Geek In Me - by Amy Knupp

The Geek In Me
by Amy Knupp

Every author has a different way of coming up with her characters. I’ve taken a lot of classes on the subject because character building is my favorite part of writing. I love the psychology involved and think it’s fascinating to find out major events from a character’s past and then figure out how that would affect him or her in the present.

One of my favorite tools to create characters is the enneagram. The ennea-what? Scary word, I know. Sounds a bit technical and dry, hence my geek label for myself, but if you can get over that, I promise, enneagrams are fun!

An enneagram is basically a personality type. If you think of the Myers-Brigg test that lets you know if you’re an introvert or extrovert, thinking or feeling, etc., this is similar. But instead of all the initials that stand for stuff, it uses numbers 1 through 9 to label the different enneagram types.

The nine types of enneagrams are:

1 The Perfectionist

2 The Helper

3 The Achiever

4 The Romantic

5 The Observer

6 The Questioner

7 The Adventurer

8 The Challenger

9 The Peacemaker

Some of these are easy to figure out by their names. But the great thing about enneagrams is that there are lots of subdivisions to account for differences between people and also to account for where they are in their maturity or mental health. (A mentally “healthy” nurturer is different from an unhealthy, suffering nurturer, for example.)

My Salinger Sister trilogy with Harlequin Superromances has characters that I’ve crafted based on certain enneagram types.

Lindsey Salinger (from The Boy Next Door) is a 2 enneagram, a nurturer. She’s the oldest sister of three and when their mother was killed by a drunk driver when they were teens, she’s the one who made sure everyone was okay. Her struggle is putting her own needs first for once in her life.

Katie Salinger is the youngest sister and a 7, the Adventurer. When their mother died, she turned into Danger Girl and adopted the motto: Live life to the fullest because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Her story (Doctor in Her House) is about falling in love with Noah, a family doctor who values security, safety and peace above everything.

Savannah Salinger is the heroine of my current release, The Secret She Kept. She’s an 8, the Challenger. And to make things interesting, her hero, Jake, is an 8 as well. Because they’re both so stubborn and strong-willed, sparks fly whenever they’re together.

I like to take enneagrams a step farther and figure out what the people in my real life are. (This drives my husband crazy, I’m fairly certain, but sometimes it helps me to understand certain people better.)

I myself am a 6 enneagram, the loyalist or the questioner. Another name for this type is the Worrier, and all three of these fit me well.

So anyone want join me in my geekiness? Want to guess just by the titles which type of enneagram you are? And then, if you have about 10 extra minutes, you can take an online enneagram test (36 multiple choice questions) to find out if you were right. You can find a good test here:

If you do take the test, let us know what enneagram it said you are and whether or not you agree.

(If you’re interested in learning more, the book I referred to for this blog post is The Ennegram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele. I also used the Enneagram Institute website:

Thanks to Lee for inviting me to be here today!


danie88 said...

My guess before I took the test was #2-The Helper

After I took the test (the top score I got was 7) and it says I'm type 9 which is The Peacemaker...

I do agree that I am a Peacemaker... I tend to like to avoid conflict at all costs (I hate arguing and fighting), I'm a trustworthy person and creative as well. It also says that they're stubborn and I am VERY stubborn, that's not really a positive trait, but it just makes me who I am.

danie88 said...

ah! i hit enter before i even got to finish... :P shows how awake i am...

anyway that test was really fun Amy thanks for sharing it with us!

EllenToo said...

Interesting results for me. I scored equally on type 1 (Reformer)and 6 (Loyalist). I was a teacher for 35 years and that seems to fall under type 1.

Estella said...

My guess before I took the test was #9.

The test said I was a # 9(Peacemaker) with #1(Reformer) a close second.

Amy Knupp said...

Hi Danie, it seems like nurturer and peacekeeper would be similar types. Um, I'm a bit on the stubborn side too. *g*

Hey Ellen, yep, I could see you as a reformer just from what I know of you online. :)

Estella, you know yourself well! I was actually surprised I was a Questioner until I really read the description. Eerie how well it fits me.

Thanks to you all for taking the test and sharing your types!

Michelle Styles said...

Amy --

After Laurie Campbell introduced me to ennegrams, I do use them to help craft my characters. They are useful because there are growth arcs as well as potential areas of conflicts.
It all depends on how your mind works.

Lori Ann said...

My results were a tie between type 3 and type 6. Reading the descriptions, I think I am more of a type 3 (The Achiever). Thanks for sharing this. It had been a long time since I had taken a personality test.

Michele L. said...

I love taking tests like this! I am #2 The Helper. Pretty much sums me up in a nut shell. I take care of my 83 year old mom and my husband. Unfortunately, he is out of work right now but is very handy around the house! :-) I guessed that I was either a Nurterer or a Helper since that is pretty much what I do in life.