I’ve been so busy over the holiday (and recovering!) that I have been awol on Purplecar. Sorry! Here’s a bit about multiple intelligences that you can use for character building.
Howard Gardner shook psychology ground back in 1983 when he theorized that there were more measurable skillsets than just the typical math, reading and logic most standardized tests sought to quantify. His famous book on the subject, Frames of Mind, outlined the 8 areas where individuals could excel, apart from the standard Intelligence Quotient tests (wikipedia article):
- 1.1 Bodily-Kinesthetic
- 1.2 Interpersonal
- 1.3 Linguistic
- 1.4 Naturalistic
- 1.5 Intrapersonal
- 1.6 Spatial
- 1.7 Musical
- 1.8 Other intelligences
You can get the gist of each skillset from the titles, but read the article for an overview. The “other intelligences” have to do with a spiritual, moral/ethical or existential skill, which would be hard to quantify.
Knowing a bit about these skills and those on which we typically measure intelligence will help you write your characters and develop your plot.
If you are experiencing some creative block, put your character’s names in one hat, the 8 intelligences in another, and have two different people in your life stand with you to pick out characters to match with traits. If you think the match doesn’t fit, all the better! Make it fit, make it realistic. We’ve all experienced surprises about friends’ hidden talents or hobbies at some point. I remember one day in my senior year of high school our choral teacher was sick. We were in the heat of our last spring concert rehearsals, and we had no piano. Then a girl I was raised with, since first grade, one of my close friends, a fellow cheerleader, singer, classmate, pal, stepped up to the piano and started playing our pieces so we could rehearse. I was floored! I asked her immediately how she learned, when she learned, and she just said simply that she had been taking lessons for a while and that she just never mentioned it. Amazing! Her musical intelligence went way beyond what I knew of her (and I knew a lot!). Since then, I’ve had many similar shocks along the way: friends told me they were avid fly fishermen, or community dance troopers, or olympic cyclists, the list goes on. I (and many others) consider myself a keen judge of character, and even I get surprised sometimes.
This kind of surprise is very interesting in real life and in fiction. But in fiction, you have to make it fit better than it does in real life. Read about the multiple intelligences and think of a person you know that excels in each one. Write that part of your friend’s personality into your character. You get where I’m going with this, I’m sure, because as writers we all have great interpersonal skills! Have fun and let me know what you come up with.
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