Nicole Krell wrote a brilliant blog post about how she uses astrology to build characters.
In short, she pulls up a good zodiac chart (like this one) to help her decide which traits to use to create well-rounded, deep protagonists for her novels.
Besides being a Virgo, I don’t know jack crap about astrology. So I looked up what a Virgo was supposed to be/act like. Here’s what I found:
Virgos are interested in: poetry, literature (yep!), mathematics (not me!) and other scholarly pursuits, diet, exercise and projects.
Virgos tend to be: helpful, self-effacing, perfectionists, who avoid conflict. Can be patient, observant and judgmental. And may have a difficult time showing their feelings.
Physically Virgos are: “a graceful figure, a roundish head, delicately-shaped lips, large and clear eyes, small, symmetrical, and refined features, a high forehead, and thin eyebrows. Also, they are thought to usually be of slightly above average height.”
To me, that sounds like a pretty awesome character description. Does it fit me perfectly? No. But could it suit a fictional figure? You bet.
You can also use astrology backwards. Say you want a character who is…impulsive and outgoing…but needs more fleshing out. You can scroll through the chart looking for synonyms and you may end up with an Aries –“Aggressive, willful, powerful, assertive; enthusiastic about whatever interests you at the moment, focused in short bursts, unlikely to sustain interest in the long term; ego expression; adventurous, pioneering.”
In my opinion (which may not be very valuable), the zodiac chart is based on personality generalities. Do enthusiastic people have short attention spans? Sure. Some of the time. Do I know people like that? Oh yeah.
So the next time you need to build a new character, your answer may lie in the stars!
(Okay, okay, that was cheesy. I couldn’t help it).