Friday, October 30, 2009

The Numerology of Character

In great literature characters have numbers in much the same way that real people have numbers. So I often start with numerology when I begin to think about writing a character. The character’s numbers will lead me toward his or her behavior patterns, attitudes, stress points and even conflicts with other characters.
Although he isn’t an eight – Ebenezer Scrooge – works the issues of the number eight which are power and money. His transformation takes place in the realms of power and money. Interestingly, the number of Scrooge (one - creative) and the number of “A Christmas Carol” (seven - spiritual) combine to make the number eight, which makes sense. The entire story is about eight issues.
Harry Potter’s birth numbers, on the other hand, combine to form a four, the number of work. And from the beginning of the series Harry has a job to do. Fours often have difficulty delegating their responsibilities. Harry’s friends tell him constantly that he doesn’t have to do everything himself. His name number is an eleven – a master number. An eleven is someone who takes on goals and challenges bigger than themselves – goals so big and challenging that they might even intimidate. Eleven adds up to two – the number of partnership – and Harry always partners with Dumbledore, Hermione and Ron.
In my soon to be released novel, Tranquility Initiative, the main character Cassandra Williams – a doctor from the CDC sent to investigate an outbreak of pulmonary anthrax in New York City is number 7. Spiritual but also intellectual, focused, scientific – a seeker of truth, an accumulator of knowledge, self-oriented, a perfectionist and a woman of great mental strength. That allows her to be incredibly effective despite the fact that she is movie star gorgeous.
Using numbers to explore the traits of characters you are inventing, or using numbers to explore characters developed by others, is great fun and can lead you into areas of understanding that would have eluded you without the numbers acting as a guide to consistency. They can help you make choices for the character or solving problems for the characters that would otherwise get in their way.

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