by Fae Rowen
Announcement: Kristen Lamb will be our guest on Friday with "Novel Diagnostics".
At the beginning of the year, I usually cycle back to the questions "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?"
I was thinking about Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dragon and remembered it's been awhile since I visited the Chinese Medicine Five Element Personality Types I first read and studied a decade ago.
If you're familiar with Chinese medicine or Feng Shui, you've heard of the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.
Imagine each element placed around a one-way traffic circle and you'll have a good idea of how the elements "work." Wood nourishes fire, which feeds earth, which nourishes metal, which feeds water which nourishes wood to complete the cycle.
Each element has distinct characteristics associated with personality and physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges.
In real life an understanding of how we are influenced by the elements around us can make our life easier. For instance, before I knew any of this, I was lucky to marry a man who's a strong Metal personality. He indeed "nourishes" my Water personality. His secondary characteristic is Wood, which my Water feeds.
Imagine if I'd fallen in love with a Fire element who boiled my Water element characteristics and made me steam. Of course my Water element would have come in handy to douse his Fire nature.
Probably you know what your astrological sign is. And you have some idea of signs that you relate to and signs that can be difficult to deal with. What if you had another tool to help you interact with the people around you?
Better yet, what if, instead of building your characters from the ground up on someone else's chart, you gave your protagonist and antagonist the personalities and challenges of two Chinese elemental personalities? You've got built-in conflict just by picking two elements.
If you're in the middle of a project, another way to use the "test" is to answer the questions like your character would. You'll get information about your character's type along with possibilities for additional traits that would be true to the human nature of that type. And, of course, potential for conflict with other characters.
If you would just like a quick overview of the five element types, try this link.
If you would like to answer questions to determine your type, you can visit here.
There are many more sites you can explore if you're interested in more tests and more information. I highly recommend the book Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield & Efrem Korngold.
Here is a summary of the five types with their challenges and contradictions. You'll see many possibilities for conflict, both internal and external in this list.
- Wants to be in charge but misses the companionship of equals
- Yearns to do, to act but subject to uncontrollable impulse
- Makes rules but likes to break them
- Demands freedom but needs to struggle
- Feels invincible but fears vulnerability and loss of control
- Desires contact, intimacy but needs solitude
- Loves sensation and feeling but fears being overwhelmed by intensity
- Loves to say yes and can’t say no
- Yearns for fusion and dreads dissolution
- Lives in the moment,but dreads the future
- Being at the still points and feeling stuck
- Wanting to be full but feeling weighed down, overstuffed, and overwhelmed
- Seeking emptiness and fearing that there is nothing at the core
- Desiring change but wanting things to stay the same
- Wanting to be needed but wary of being absorbed, losing the self
- Wants relationship but needs distance
- Knows what is right but accepts what is safe
- Aspires toward beauty but settles for utility
- Wants joy - but fears spontaneity
- Likes creativity, ingenuity but is intolerant of disorder, dissonance
- Yearns for truth but fears exposure
- Yearns for connection but is intolerant of contact
- Likes to be squeezed but scared of being squashed
- Wants to penetrate inside but detests being absorbed
- Enjoys being left alone but dreads being abandoned
Feeling a little crazy? Justifiably so, according to your elemental characteristics. These are the knots we tie ourselves into and the challenges of the memorable characters we want to write.
I've got a little experiment for you. Let the character you're writing now have your elemental personality. Throw challenges related to what he wants. Tie her into knots with her fear related to her challenges.
You just might learn something about yourself in the process. Something that may help you resolve some of your challenges and related fears. Who knows, you may figure out ways to deal with people in your everyday life a little better. And who couldn't use easier relationships?
What's your element? Is there a challenge your element helped you recognize? This blog was condensed from a full day workshop. I'll be happy to share more traits in response to your comments.
And if you need a "diagnosis" from Kristen Lamb, you'll want to check in on Friday for some super tips.