Saturday, August 4, 2007

Handy Writer's Software - Character Pro 5

Character Pro 5 software (Windows)
by Typing Chimp software ~ $70 US approx.


Every once in a while you come across writing software which looks useful. Typically what’s available is really no different than what can be gleaned out of a text book, but obviously the benefits of a computer program make it an irresistible option for some. Okay. For me.

For those unfamiliar with the Enneagrams of personality, this is basically a system whereby all human personalities are broken down into one of nine types. The idea behind using this type of system (for writing purposes) is to gain a wider insight into the characters you have in mind for a story and how they interact with one another.

I recently read an article on UNK’s blog for a book review (tools for successful screenwriting) and wasn’t surprised to see the enneagram topic covered there. Now, if you set no credence with what psychologists, sociologists and psychiatrists have to say, then the notion isn’t likely to be something you’ll find useful... and software which allows you to do the same won’t help. But as a tool, it may be useful (e.g. for brainstorming).

Quick rundown

The idea is that you establish your characters one at a time and supply as much information as you can. Notice the left-hand side of the screen, where the folder-like structure allows you to jump around.


You then proceed to each screen, filling-in the blanks as you go.
(Click on any of the screen shots below to enlarge so you can better see what’s on each page.)


If nothing else, the enneagram helps you focus on what the character’s outcome is likely to be. For example, a protagonist’s arc tends to be an optimistic one whereas that of an antagonist is usually the opposite. But you’re not forced to take the conventional journey. lol


Depending on the choices made previously, answers to certain questions are pre-filled for you. But that’s optional, plus however the text got there, it’s possible to edit everything in the box anyway.


...and there’s room for additional stuff for which you may not have found a home previously.

The main part of the show however is the Enneagram screen itself. You’re forced to select from one of the nine types in its database... each one comes with an elaborate description (green button on the right)... besides which, it’s possible to change your mind later.


Some of the choices made will have further choices down the line...


Finally, at the end of the brief exercise you’ll be able to generate all the text for the character. That will be a combination of whatever you’ve previously entered plus the analysis of the chosen character’s personality traits.


Also very useful is the ability to take your main character and to analyze the potential relationship to another character. This “other character” is someone you have to create from scratch now (i.e. you can’t simply point to another file you’ve already established for that character).


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