Gabe Byrne likes the simple life. Quiet, coffee, and the company of his horse are all he needs.
When his mare takes sick, Gabe calls David Meloy, the town’s new veterinarian—who’s so gorgeous Gabe can barely think straight.
In a town like Armstrong, it’s hard to find people Gabe can trust. After a tough break-up and a long recovery from cancer, Gabe knows this attraction isn’t a complication he needs, and he’ll do what it takes to protect himself from more heartbreak.
David Meloy might be new to small-town life, but after the sudden passing of his husband, a fresh start is exactly what he needs. With his own vet practice and a new dog to keep him company, life is starting to feel good again.
If only Gabe Byrne would stop insulting him in public.
David’s a professional, so when the call comes about Gabe’s sick mare, David answers—even if it means getting stuck in a blizzard.
Trapped together by the storm, can they look past their arguments to find a connection? Or will David’s conflicted feelings, Gabe’s insecurities, and the hard realities of small-town life rise to stand in their way?
It can sometimes be hard for new writers to make their characters’ traits and motivations consistent. Every once in a while, I’ll get stumped on dialogue because my characters’ few defining traits don’t give me enough information to finish the scene.
To help me flesh out my characters’ traits, behaviors, and motivations, I run their known traits through a series of online personality quizzes to create a better-rounded version of my character to work from.
One of these tests is the Enneagram of Personality. Enneagram translates from Greek, roughly, as “nine graph.” The nine points of this “theory of personality” (think MBTI or Hogwarts houses) allegedly cover the complete experience of human personality types. Whether you believe that or not, there’s no doubt it can help understand different kinds of personalities to build characters from.
There are a few good Enneagram personality tests online. I use this one [link] for testing, then check the descriptions for that Enneagram type on other websites, like the official Ennegram Institute website.
So who, according to Enneagram, is David Meloy?
One of the difficulties I ran into on balancing David was the fact that he felt so conflicted. Normally pretty sure of himself—“impulsive,” by his own description—David starts to feel unmoored when he meets Gabe before he feels “ready” to dip his toe back into dating. That meant David’s core character traits—knowledge of self, delight in spontaneity—were no longer applicable as he tried to figure out the way forward.
This was a problem! I was trying to progress the plot and David was standing in my way.
Enter Enneagram! Enneagram helpfully informed me David was a Type Seven. What I like about Enneagram is that it focuses on behaviors, personality traits, and motivations, so you get a bit of information for all three.
After telling me things I already knew about David—his enthusiasm for new experiences; his excitable energy; his desire for choice—Enneagram started to explain how this enthusiasm often has hidden depths for Type Sevens:
Their thinking is anticipatory: they foresee events and generate ideas “on the fly,” favoring activities that stimulate their minds—which in turn generate more things to do and think about.
Aha! So David likes new experiences because it gives him more things to think about. A busy brain explains a lot about how he could get bogged down by conflicted feelings.
Expanding on what it means to be one of the “Thinking” types, Enneagram explains that overthinking Sevens often ignore their instincts, which can create a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. So what do they do when faced with this anxiety?
>>First, they try to keep their minds busy all of the time. As long as Sevens can keep their minds occupied, especially with projects and positive ideas for the future, they can, to some extent, keep anxiety and negative feelings out of conscious awareness. … Second, Sevens cope … by using the “trial and error” method: they try everything to make sure they know what is best.<<
Okay! So David is going to try distracting himself to avoid thinking about how he doesn’t know what to do. Because he’s so active, he might seek something to do with his hands, as long as it’s something complex enough to keep his mind occupied. (Fortunately, he’s a veterinarian.)
But because he’s also keen to live his life and experience new things, he’s going to have to push forward at some point. Whatever that looks like, it’s probably going to be something that doesn’t look very certain and allows for a lot of different possible outcomes.
So to move my plot forward, I have to show David being anxious, force him into confronting his feelings, and then move him forward with flexibility in mind…?
Great! Now I know how to finish the scene! Thanks, Enneagram!
Personality tests can be inaccurate when applied to real people, but they’re a must-have tool for me when building characters. It’s important to still be selective when molding your character; there are some traits of “Type Sevens” that didn’t apply to what I had in mind for David, so I just didn’t use them. But understanding different kinds of personalities—especially outgoing ones, since I’m much more of a Gabe than a David—is important for creating dynamic, varied characters in my made-up worlds. Personality tests can be one way for writers to flesh out that character knowledge.
Julianna Thorn is a writer and editor from British Columbia, living in Central Canada with a very large cat and a regular-sized human. When not writing elsewhere under other names, she likes video games, tabletop games, reading, and shouting at the sky during various seasons. She can also be found on twitter.