Creating characters: astrology

October 5, 2010

There are many different personality type theories that can help us create three-dimensional characters. The three systems I’m going to explore here are astrology, the enneagram, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

If you don’t believe in astrology, the enneagram, or personality typing, that’s not a problem. These are just tools you can use to build believable characters.

Let’s start with astrology.

The most important factors in astrology are the sun sign, the moon sign, and the rising sign (ascendant). I’ll start with the sun sign.

The sun sign is the zone of the zodiac in which the sun was located when you were born.


The element determines the basic traits and temperament of each sign.

  • Air: Air is the element of communication and the mind. In general, air characters are reasonable, curious, open-minded, and good at communication and observation. They are rational and objective rather than emotional, so they can come across as cool and detached.
  • Earth: Earth characters are attuned to reality and rely on what they can see, hear, etc. with their senses. They are pragmatic but also sensuous. They are focused on the present. They are grounded, realistic, persevering, and reliable, but can also be stubborn and rigid.
  • Fire: Fire is the element of imagination. Fire characters are passionate, energetic, action-oriented, spontaneous, and enthusiastic. They’re not as steadfast or responsible as earth people, but they inspire and motivate others and can be trailblazers. They need admiration and can be self-centered and impulsive. Fire relates to the future.
  • Water: Water is the element of emotions. Water characters are often compassionate, intuitive, and in touch with emotions, theirs and that of others. They can be overly emotional. Water relates to the past, so water characters might be a bit nostalgic.

Gender / polarity:

  • masculine/positive: The fire and air signs are extraverted, objective, assertive, and active. They act and go after what they want.
  • feminine/negative: The water and earth signs are introverted, subjective, receptive, and passive. They react and wait to see what will happen.


Each of the elements can occur in three states or qualities.

  • Cardinal signs represent the beginning. They are initiators and trailblazers who take the lead and initiate new things, but they might not see things through to the end.
  • Fixed signs represent the middle. They are finishers who make things that are already there more efficient and keep things going without changing them. They are persistent and determined but may also be stubborn and inflexible.
  • Mutable signs represent the end. They are transformers who replace and transform things into something new. They are flexible and adaptable, but sometimes also indecisive and inconsistent.

Sun signs:

When you combine elements and qualities, you get the twelve sun signs:

Cardinal Fixed Mutable
Air Libra Aquarius Gemini
Earth Capricorn Taurus Virgo
Fire Aries Leo Sagittarius
Water Cancer Scorpio Pisces

Sun signs can help creating characters because they show which traits (strengths and weaknesses) usually go together and what kind of flaws the characters need to overcome.

More on astrology and how it can help with creating characters in the next blog post.


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