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Tapping Your Character's Currency

16 Characters
In Story Building Blocks II and Build A Cast Workbook, I introduce sixteen character mannequins based on personality types that you can twist and warp to fit your story needs.

Each mannequin could be male or female. I had to choose pronouns, so I went with the pronoun that matched the greater percentage of gender in each category. He and she can easily translate into masculine, feminine, or androgenous. Sex and sexual orientation do not directly affect personality type, except when it comes to social expectations and how those expectations shape the character.

Everyone has deep-seated needs that serve as currency: the thing that defines their personal carrot and stick. Dangle the right morsel in front of them and they will do anything to get it. Threaten to take it away and they will do anything to keep it.

"Relationships are like a bank account, you need more deposits than withdrawals."

Tweet: "Relationships are like a bank account, you need more deposits than withdrawals."

1. Wynn’s currency is appreciation. She is the worker bee, never the queen. She needs to be needed, to hear “well done” often, and to be thanked for the everyday things she does to keep a life, a workplace, or a planet running smoothly. Telling her that her help isn’t needed or wanted is her trigger.

2. Francis is more interested in being right than being happy. He sees himself as the herd dog keeping everyone in line. He needs people to respect his authority and opinions. All is well, as long as people accede to his point of view and decisions. Call him wrong or question his authority and the fight is on.

3. Nevada hates conflict. He sees himself as the shepherd who guides the flock. His currency is appreciation for his dedication to others. He craves loving affirmations for working hard and providing for other people. Calling him selfish or telling him his efforts are misguided starts a fire.

4. Arden’s currency is gratitude and appreciation for his integrity. As long as people respect him and appreciate his hard work, things go smoothly. Tell him his assistance isn’t needed or question his intentions and the game is on.

5. Blair’s currency is affection and admiration. If she isn’t consistently praised, she deflates. Telling her she is anything but perfection or that she hasn't done anything to earn praise makes her an enemy.

6. Dallas wants to be adored for being the life of the party. She values her sense of fun and adventure. Telling her the party is over or to get serious and she will make your life hell.

7. Hadley wants to be adored for breathing. She wants everyone to be happy. Since she is generally agreeable and good-natured, people usually comply. If the adoration fades, trouble sets in.

8. Shelby wants to be honored and respected. She is a team player. As long as people treat her like a valued member of the team, family, or planet, things are fine. Questioning her character is a call to war.

9. Joss craves recognition for his intelligence and skill. He's the typical silent maverick. He is usually admired in the short-term. His derring-do draws people in, but eventually drives them off. Question his competence and you’ll like find yourself in the crosshairs of his sniper scope.

10. To Kelly, all the world is a stage and he is the main attraction. He is the ultimate game player and always wins. Never accuse him of being a loser or make him sit on the sidelines.

11. Greer is the ultimate reclusive genius. He wants recognition for his competence. Since he is usually competent, he receives it. When he forgets to take care of things he does not consider important or his efforts are misdirected, his competence might be questioned and the fight is on.

12. Taylor is the ultimate organizer or volunteer. She wants to be appreciated for her goodness and service. She usually is, unless her efforts become toxic.

13. Cam wants to be admired for his intelligence and competence. He is the deep thinker of the group. People usually admire that about him. Question his competence or his research and the fight is on.

14. Morgan also wants to be admired for his intelligence and competence. He is the ultimate thrill-seeking gambler. When his sometimes reckless behavior makes those traits questionable, the game is afoot.

15. Lee is the take control steamroller of the group. Lee wants to be top dog. Things are fine as long as her rules are obeyed. When she steamrolls the wrong person or is demoted, she turns lethal.

16. River is the most spiritual and likely to believe in the paranormal. She wants to be admired for her wisdom and desire for harmony. She is usually admired, unless her desire to be worshipped becomes obsessive or her belief system is too bizarre.

To learn more about the mannequins and how personality types create conflict for your characters, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book, and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook available in paperback and E-book.

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