1. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    D.I.S.C. Method

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by roadkilraven, Sep 13, 2009.

    I'm wondering how many people use the D.I.S.C. Method of personalities when designing characters. If you're not familar with this method pick up either The Personality Code, or Personality Plus, although the second book is slightly different method.

    To break down the concept: There are four basic personalities a person or character can have, any everyone is a mix of them.

    D: The dominant, determined, designated personality.
    I: The inspiration, animated, outgoing personality.
    S: The passive, reserved, selfless personality.
    C: The calculating, organized, cold personality.
     
  2. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    I use a slightly different method. I generally start with the plot itself. Through rewrites, the characters' personality develops according to what will work best in the story.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pigeonholing never works. Not for people, even less so for characters.
     
  4. Cyrano
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    Cyrano Member

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    Most of my characters personalities are tailored to the plot. I find it much more practical changing the character than changing the plot. And readers are more apt to finding holes in the plot than holes in a characters personality traits. Personalities not fitting the bill in the end can be made up for with well placed back stories and characterization.
     
  5. Mystery Meat
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    Mystery Meat Member

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    I am quite familiar with the DiSC method (I'm a High D, High C) but don't use it in my writing. I prefer to come up with a scenario, tailor the characters to the scenario and then, if I need a little more insight into how these characters will interact, I might refer to a book on psychological profiles, etc, to get a better understanding of what they might do. I don't see it as a rule book but more as a way of gaining inspiration.

    If I want to use a psy. profiling system I would more likely stick with Myers Briggs. Just a personal preference.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are two kinds of people in the world:

    1) Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world.
    2) Those who don't.
     
  7. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I'm loving it.

    This is something that's been re-iterated over and over again - if you stick your characters in a box, they'll suffocate.

    Granted, it's possible to say "this character is like that" but that's only because you're looking to do it on purpose.

    It's the subtle differences and long-term developments that make a character really take form, and no character sheet, chart, checklist, litmus test - nothing short of the full story itself will do it justice.
     
  8. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Expanding on tcol4417's point:

    Characters are like watermelons.

    They can be grown in cuboid containers easily enough. In fact, it's monumentally simple to make a watermelon into a cubic watermelon- just stick it in a box before it starts really growing, and you get a watermelon that's flat, stackable, organised, and much smaller and much more user-friendly than they could be.

    They can also be grown out in the open. Watermelons that grow free bloat up very quickly, becoming full and round. They also get huge, and are more prone to developing flaws as the natural process of growing exposes them to all sorts of sharp edges and things. In the end, free-grown watermelons are larger-than life, carefully rounded, hard to really stack or organize.

    Now, the important thing is, you can easily cut a free-grown watermelon down and get a cubic watermelon section. It won't have everything, but it'll easily fit in a box. But you can't take a cubic watermelon and make it into a round watermelon- not without inflating it with the application of a bunch of air, or strapping a bunch of extra bits to it.

    Anyway, that metaphor worked better than I expected and it is now dead in my mind. Thanks for reading it.
     
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  9. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    And the first one hasn't been written yet

    Nice one XD
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    First I think of my plot. I rarely come up with a character before a plot, but I have done so. Actually, one of my favorite stories, I had come up with the character first. Martin Black.

    After I have a plot, I think of the best personality type that would change the most because of it, that would suffer the most in the story, etc.
     
  11. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Thanks tcol4417!

    Put your characters in boxes and they stay there. Let the characters grow and they might end up in a box anyway.
     
  12. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    That is an awesome metaphor :D
     
  13. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    I started this thread forever ago, and have been meaning to comment on it since then. I'd like to throw in that everyone in real life can be placed into the D.I.S.C. method of personalities; some people fit one, but in more cases it's two, or even three types. Characters in one type can have traits from even the opposite type (keep in mind when I started the thread I wasn't going into great detail about all four personalities), it's simply that most of their personality traits fit in those one, two or three types.

    I like to use the analogy of Firefly (TV show) as the example. Joss Whedon clearly uses the D.I.S.C. or a similiar method when he builds his characters. The Captain is clearly an I-D personality, Jayne is a solid D, Simon is a clear C-D, Wash is an I-S, and so on and so on. For those of you who've read his work on Astonishing X-men you'll see he's done the same with established characters: Wolverine is a solid D, Cyclops is also a solid D with some C traits, the White Queen is a D-I, etc.

    To finish, I've always used this method when making characters, and I use it to study ordinary people, which is sort of fun to figure out.
     
  14. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sure it's great for cardboard cutouts, like X-Men character are, but squashing something like this down over the heads of real people reminds me of that teacher-lady in 'Donnie Darko' who thinks all feelings can be divided into Love and Fear.

    Crudely simplifying the human psyche in this way makes my skin crawl.

    I can take that test and have any result, purely dependent on what mood I'm in at the time. Sometimes I'm a supersticious coward, sometimes a logical cynic, sometimes caring, sometimes egotistical, sometimes a selfless optimist. A fully rounded character isn't just one thing.

    Read some Nietzsche, and then some Plato. Read some Freud and then some Jung. You'll see that even the greatest minds who ever lived could not agree among eachother (or even with themselves) as to what defines human nature.
     
  15. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    Well, I'm going to have to defend Joss Whedon's characters in X-men as not being cardboard cutouts. In general the characters are defined in their personalities, and not one dimensional. I don't think it matters what medium a character is in to determine whether it's a good character at all.

    Secondly, if you look at real people, and also read more into the DISC or similar methods (read Personality Plus for example) you'll see that they tend to fall in one to three main personalities, depending on the person. Feel free to disagree with me, but I like to observe people and make a game out of what personalities they fall into. Most people are easy to place. That said, characters in a written piece can be defined by the same personality models.
     
  16. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    What kind of story are you writing? If it's centered on some aspect of the plot (mystery, the answering of a question, etc.) or the world that the story is taking place in (think Lord of the Rings), strong characterization may not be needed, and may actually distract from the focus. In that situation, using your D.I.S.C. method might be perfect, because your characters simply need to be believable enough to fulfill their roles (remember, they're not the focus).

    If you're writing a story that is focused on the characters, however, "boxing" them is a bad idea. You have to get to know them, just like you do with real people. Know their pasts. Know their dreams. Know what scares them, fascinates them, delights them. You want your readers to get to know them as closely as they know their own friends and family--better than that, actually--so you need to invest some time there.

    If you want to know more about characterization, I highly recommend you purchase Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. It's worth it.
     
  17. Danijay
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    Danijay New Member

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    I've honestly never heard of this method before.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i never analyze characters, i just write them!... if any seem to need analyzing, i'll write in a shrink and sign 'em up for counseling...
     
  19. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I thought only Terry Pratchett used the Disc method.:D
     
  20. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    Using this method is not meant to 'box' a character in. It's meant to define a character. I have nothing against knowing a characters past, dream, etc, but part of charactization is knowing where they stand.

    I'll give an example of using this method when creating characters: I've finished a book, where the main character is an S personality. Throughout the book he's very reserved, unsure, and shy. He dones come out of his shell as he grows, but in the end he is still an S. He learns to become more upfront, but he's still indecisive.

    In another case I have his love interest, a human woman who is a D personality. She is very strong, a natural leader, direct and determined. By the end of the book she learns compassion, but she's still a D personality. Even if she's compassionate she's still a natural leader/alpha/D personality.

    In other words, with both cases, I use the general personality models to identify where to start with a character, and then I build on to them from there. It would be against an S personalities nature to be a decisive person, but through trial and error the S personality character learns to overcome some of that, and gains the ability to make decisions on his own. In the same way the D personality character would normally avoid compassion over a blunt solution, but in this case through trial and error she learns it.

    In neither case does the D.I.S.C. method limit either character or prevent me from going where I want with them. It gives a character a solid foundation.
     
  21. Dreadmoc
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    Dreadmoc Banned

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    My characters always tell me what type of person they are. I put them into situations and then observe the things they do and say.

    Some of them can be very boring people. Those are the ones that just suddenly stop showing up.

    Or, I've even changed their name and watched them take on a whole new personality.

    One of my characters started as a white man, but the way he walked, talked and delt with situations reminded me of Denzel Washington. Naturally the character turned out to be a black man!

    This was an interesting turn of events and certainly took my rewrite a whole other direction, but in the end, figuring this out about my character made my story better.

    Of course you'll have figured out that what I mean is, you can write a whole bunch of stuff about a character, but in the end, sometimes the only way to figure out who your characters really are is to grow with them.

    Remember what Hemingway said, "Writing is rewriting".

    That and "The first draft of everything is sh*t"
     
  22. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    The only thing I do or my characters is write out brief profiles for them, much like a facebook profile, just detailing certain aspects of their life, their family situation, marital status, religious views, hobbies, etc and then use this as the basic backbone, the charcters themselves, develop as the story goes
     
  23. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I find that method interesting. I almost never do a plot bio on my characters. I find that when I write a story, my characters usually write themselves. For example, one of my guys in a story I'm writing decided to take over and be one of the main leaders of the story, instead of the joker I wanted him to be. You know what? I'm liking it better.

    However, I think I may just have to try your idea; thanks for the tip!
     

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