Wings, and arrows, and subtypes–Oh my!

May 13, 2008

I love books about writing craft. I’ve been hearing for years that enneagrams are a great way to create characters with depth–flaws, humanity and all. The trouble was, I didn’t really understand enneagrams. Then Laurie Campbell (aka Laurie Schnebly) sent me her book, and everything was illuminated. From Laurie’s web site:

Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams
“A must-have for all writers — here’s your chance to create deep, well-rounded, flesh-and-blood characters!”
Linda Lael Miller, NYT bestselling author

This 250-page “how-to” is for writers who want to create plausible, likable characters — each with distinctive strengths and flaws that’ll generate conflict between (and WITHIN) these people. Give your characters the quiz to discover their personality type: Perfectionist, Nurturer, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Skeptic, Enthusiast, Leader or Peacemaker. Then see how their wings, arrows and subtypes enhance each one, and how their fatal (or not-so-fatal) flaw can be affected by their own unique strengths. 

So, I am writing a book about a Romantic and an Enthusiast. No wonder they’re giving me such trouble!

  • I too, had difficulties with enneagrams and was so frustrated. I knew it was a treasure for character-building, but couldn’t get it down well enough from the texts I’d read on it. Then Laurie’s book came out and now I get literally hundreds of ideas for my characters and can be sure they are all believable, set on this time-honored method of character analysis. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    ~~Susan Yarina

  • I can’t believe I don’t have this book! I’ve got to get my hands on a copy ASAP!

    If it’s as good as Laurie’s workshops and classes, it’s sure to be a winner!

    Cheers, Julie Rowe

  • I heartily recommend both Laurie’s book and her class on enneagrams. Her concepts have helped me develop my characters. I also look at other people–as well as myself–a little differently…

  • I discovered Ennegrams a couple of years ago and found them rather complicated. Laurie’s classes helped me get a grip on the concept and her book has made the topic accessible for all writers. A useful addition to the writer’s toolbox.

  • In both her books and her workshops, Laurie Schnebly Campbell makes even the most complex topics easy to comprehend. She communicates in a unique style that captures your attention and makes you want to learn more. Don’t miss her workshop at RWA National! You will be entertained as you are educated in the psychology of human relationships.


  • This book is one of the reasons Laurie is one of my fave authors (in additon to her informative classes). It really helped me understand my characters. Bravo! Laurie! and thanks to Susan for making it a valuable writers’ topic.


  • I love Laurie’s books and workshops. She always offers such helpful information in an understandable, “user friendly” way that makes it very applicable for my own writing process. I’ve utilized Laurie’s techniques on numerous occasions for character development and find that the enneagram approach helps me delve deeply into the why and what of who they are.

    Eden Robins

  • I, too, love Laurie’s book, especially the little story scenarios showing the enneagram types in action in different plots. Not to mention the fact that reading the tremendous range of behaviors expands my repertoire of character reactions/behaviors.
    Good eye, Susan!
    Daphne Atkeson
    w/a Dawn Atkins

  • I’m using Laurie’s book to create the characters for my current book and it’s making a major difference for me. My characters are becoming more three-dimensional and finding their fatal flaws is helping me get to know my characters even better. I highly recommend her book.

  • I also use Laurie’s book for my characters. Clear, concise & easy to understand, it takes the mystery out of enneagrams, and is a wonderful springboard for my characters. I can’t recommend her book highly enough!

  • I love using enneagrams, in real life as well was fiction! I am always going to the file with different types listed as well as their fatal flaws. Got all that info from Laurie’s Fatal Flaws workshop. Great to be able to explain why your characters do what they do!

    I even get along with my dh better now that I know he’s a freaking perfectionist. He just can’t help picking up after me.

    Pet on the way to the WisconsinRWA conference in Green Bay next weekend.

  • My greatest weakness in my writing is deep character development. I’m starting a new story and Laurie’s book on enneagrams sounds like just what I need! thanks for recommending it.


    For anyone who’s coming to RWA National, you’ll get to hear the excerpt from Susan’s book showing a Type Nine hero and a Type Nine heroine in action. (Plus other books with characters of the other types.) First thing Friday morning…it’ll be a good chance to see if enneagram fans get up early or sleep late!

  • It’s always such a treat running into people who enjoy enneagrams — they’re just such fun!

    Susan, I would’ve sworn you knew about them already because all your characters seem so real…which proves enneagram theory sure isn’t the ONLY way to create plausible people. Just a way that’s fun to apply in real life as well in fiction. 🙂

    Laurie, wishing I knew how to make a wink!

  • I was fortunate enough to take Laurie’s class on enneagrams. It changed my writing (and my relationships — but that’s another story :)). I love having this in my toolbox, as a way to get down to the essentials and figure out what really makes my characters tick. Their thoughts, actions and reactions throughout the book are so much more solid, even when they’re doing things I don’t want them to! Or maybe “especially when.” They do that a lot. 😉

  • Susan ~~ great topic about a wonderful book that takes ennegrams out of the world of psychology and makes them accessible for writers and anyone who loves to understand what makes people tick. Nothing as fun as sitting in a restaurant and thinking – hmmm, there’s a type five- the observer 🙂 or maybe they’re really a 2 – a nurturer. Too fun!

  • I hadn’t heard of enneagrams until the last couple years, and now it seems like I hear about them all the time – in writing circles, at least. I’ll have to check out Laurie’s book! Thanks for mentioning it! 🙂

  • My son has worked with enneagrams last year and again this year for 9th Gr English Literature. Took me some to understand them!

    I also remember Linda talking about this in her blog in regards to her new upcoming Creed Series.

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