Writing with the 4 Classical Elements

Thank you for all the comments on last week’s Blog Birthday post! I hope you’ll check in often. It’s great getting to know other writers. 🙂 Congratulations also to Zurrie Cortez, winner of the chapter critique! Zurrie, you can send me your chapter at swirlandspark@gmail.com. I look forward to reading it and giving you feedback. I’ll be having more giveaways again so if you didn’t win this time, keep checking in!

I’m not sure if any of you know this about me… I’m a stinker for personality quizzes. You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve probably seen them on Facebook and Twitter too… What flower type are you? What precious gem are you? What should your real job be? What city should you really live in? I can’t help it. I was a psychology major. I love analyzing people, especially myself!

So this week I came across a quiz I hadn’t seen before. I found it at http://www.beliefnet.com.

It included a quiz about the 4 Classical Elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. I took the quiz to find out what element dominates my personality.

That got me thinking about how the four elements relate to the way in which we write.

But first here’s a summary, based on what I read on that site, of the 4 Elements and how they relate to personality:

An Earth Person cares about what’s real and physical; learns by doing; and is methodical in working towards her dreams. If an Earth person is an artist, she would prefer sculpture or something tangible. She will have a well developed nesting instinct. Home is her favorite place and being settled is her favorite state. She can also be stubborn.

A Water Person is compassionate, caring, a great listener and feels her heart should be her guide. Often emotional, she is led by her dreams down a meticulous path even if it is surprising one. However, she can be inconsistent, changing her mind with the tides.

An Air Person thinks before he feels, is clever and has a gift for words. He has the ability to think through problems. He sees the big picture rather than the small details and doesn’t care how something has always been done. He has big ideas and can keep many thoughts in his head at once. Sometimes he can get distracted though and have trouble focusing on one of them at a time.

A Fire Person is passionate with his goals, ideas or causes. He will convey his passions with such intensity that people tend to take notice. Rather than thinking like an Air Person or felling like a Water Person, the Fire Person “just knows.” He acts on instinct and once he makes a decision he doesn’t change his mind. He can light up the room yet he can also be hot tempered and obsessive.

Take a look at the website to read more about it and take the quiz for yourself. If I could post the link to the quiz I would, but as always, I am technically challenged. 😦

The spectrum showed Earth at one end followed by Water, Air, and then Fire at the other end. It was interesting for me to see my results. My score fell right in the middle of the Water range. I wasn’t surprised at all. The personality description fit me. Besides, I love being around water more than any other place!

We probably all have some traits in each of the four elements though. What about you? What element do you fit into? What inspires you? Where do you feel the most “at home”? Which of these elements evokes a response or feeling?

If you fall close to being an Earth Person, you may have an easy time describing scenes that take place at home or in a home-like setting, since this may be where you’re the most comfortable. If you’re a water person, you may actually gravitate toward scenes which involve a lake or ocean. Take a look at your story. You may have the natural ability to evoke emotion and a sense of place in scenes that revolve around your personality or comfort zone.

What about your characters? If you have developed your main character and even your secondary characters enough, you probably can figure out which element dominates their personality. This may be helpful in writing them into situations. If you know their personality element, you’ll be able to write their reactions in a more authentic way.

And that’s why I love personality quizzes. I can analyze myself and I can analyze my characters too!

I hope this gets you thinking about your own characters. Which element are you? Which one is your main character? I’m Water and my main character is Water too. Is that weird? I’m not sure. Leave us a comment. I’d love to know which one you are and which one your character is too. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Writing with the 4 Classical Elements”

  1. Oooh Riley, my actual score was 36. We’re practically soul sisters! Glad you and Jordan liked the quiz. And thanks for the tip about the link. (That’s why I shouldn’t write these posts so late at night. lol) All fixed now. 🙂

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