Writer’s Resource: Personality cards are a quick, easy, and flexible tool that helps writers create rich, distinctive, and believable personalities for their characters.
What do we mean by “personality”? Quite simply, we think of personality as the assortment of traits that make an individual unique -- the distinctive way in which an individual thinks, feels, and behaves.
Each of the 45 cards in Writer’s Resource: Personality presents a pair of traits as two contrasting extremes, with one trait printed rightside-up, the other upside-down. For example, Gregarious is paired with Shy. Cautious is paired with Foolish. Each trait includes a brief elaboration of its principal features.
Although people may sometimes be distinguished by one primary trait (for example, “he’s impulsive,” or “she’s creative”), it is that assortment of traits that truly captures an individual’s multifaceted complexity (for example, “she’s creative, but also impulsive, perfectionistic, competitive, and aloof”).
Writer’s Resource: Personality cards can help you do just that: imagine characters with a more complex set of personality traits. Throw in a little chance and unpredictability and see where it takes you!
To create a personality for a character, simply use one of the methods described below, or modify one of the methods below to suit yourself.
Must a character be one of the two extremes on a card? Absolutely not! Each trait exists along a continuum and most people in the real world fall somewhere in between. However, you decide (or let randomness decide) whether and how a particular trait or set of traits will define your character.
Based on the Five Factor Model
The traits in Writer’s Resource: Personality cards and their elaborations are based on attributes from the Five Factor Model. The Five Factor Model is a prominent psychological model for describing personality that was developed over decades by a lot of independent researchers who sought to distill personality to its core attributes.
Each card is color-coded and has an icon that identifies which of the Five Factors with which it is associated. Thus, you may use Writer’s Resource: Personality cards not just to identify a character’s individual set of traits, but also to suggest over-arching “factors” for your character.
For example, you might find that a random draw of six Writer’s Resource: Personality cards contains four that happen to express one particular higher-order factor. For example, let’s say you drew Assertive, Poised, Gregarious, and Sociable. These four cards are all from the Five Factor Model’s Extraversion dimension (which we’ve named Outgoing/Energetic to be less jargonistic and more character-friendly). So, you could think of your character in terms of individual attributes or in terms of the bigger, summary attribute.
Consequently, you may want to use Writer’s Resource: Personality cards to help you explore and consider the other traits that research has associated with a particular dimension.
There are many ways to use Writer’s Resource: Personality cards
Random personality generation. Shuffle the cards to ensure a variety of positive and negative traits. Deal any number of cards (2 to 10 should provide a reasonably interesting set of traits). Sort the cards by similar higher-order factors. Voila!
Trial-and-error personality generation. Shuffle the cards as above. Deal any number of cards (again, 2 to 10 should create a reasonably interesting personality). Adjust the extremes of the traits to comport with how you visualize the character. Discard any traits that don’t fit. Deal additional cards as necessary.
Seeded personality generation. Select a set of traits that you visualize for your character. Review the remaining traits in the deck one-by-one and add any that you think will make your character more interesting.
Top-down personality generation. Select the higher-order factor that you want to define your character. Lay out the nine traits that compose that factor, then identify which will have primary, secondary, or tertiary influence, or which to discard or even which to reverse.
Post hoc personality generation. Visualize a character you’ve already created. Sort the deck based on how the character thinks, feels, and behaves in your story. Use any insights from the process to refine the set of cards you’ve dealt, to edit your story, or both.
Story starters and writing challenges. Use any method above to create personalities for two characters. Create more characters if you want to increase the challenge! Place the characters in a dilemma of your choosing. Write dialogue and actions in which each character clearly expresses his or her distinct underlying personality.
Character analysis. Select a character in a book, and choose cards when you find evidence of the personality trait in the story.
Or, just improvise! Whether you draw one card at random, systematically sort through all 45, or take any approach in between, the cards are a flexible prompt with which to consider character personality.
Bonus! Writers’ Resource: Temperament
Because one’s personality isn’t thought to come together fully until late adolescence or early adulthood, we’ve added a set of nine cards to help you think about the psychological nature of your infant, child, or early adolescent characters.
The cards in the Writers’ Resource: Temperament deck were adapted from Thomas and Chess’s classic 1950s research of behavioral traits in infants and children. Although the way researchers think about temperament has evolved and simplified over the decades, the way Thomas and Chess conceptualized temperament remains a rich and provocative way for writers to think about child psychology and development.
Like Writers’ Resource: Personality, each card in Writers’ Resource: Temperament presents a pair of traits as two contrasting extremes, with one trait printed rightside-up, the other upside-down. And, each trait includes a brief elaboration of its principal features.
Although there are fewer cards in Writers’ Resource: Temperament shuffle and draw or sort them in the same ways as you’d use Writers’ Resource: Personality.
Who we are
Richard Payne and Chandler Driggs have been friends since the 1980s. They formed Dashall & Tallyho as a studio for creating curious and wondrous items, such as the Writers’ Resource decks, card games, niche publications, and other creative undertakings.
Risks and challenges
Between us, we have many decades of experience in art direction, design, production, and creative consultation in communications and publishing. Our lives have been spent creating things and solving the inevitable problems that arise along the way. As a result, we’ve seen our share of obstacles and have been tireless and creative in overcoming them. We believe we have a very good idea of what goes into bringing to life a creative project such as this, and we believe we’ve taken all of the variables into account.
We’ve written and designed all of the cards, so we’re basically ready to go to press. To print the decks, we’ve chosen the United States Playing Card Company. Their Bicycle and Bee brands are renowned for their quality.
Still, we’re experienced enough to expect the unexpected. In any multi-stage endeavor, hiccups and delays are always possible. So we’re being conservative in our projected delivery date. Along the path, frequent communication will be a key to maintaining your trust and we promise to update you on all project milestones and reply to any of the questions you post in the project’s comments section.
We are confident that you will absolutely love these decks that you are generously helping to create!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)