by Jeanne Gehret

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image of listening ear

I’m more likely to understand someone after I’ve listened deeply to them. In my day-to-day and in my writing life, I often use the enneagram, a personality type system that examines people’s innate tendencies and finds directions in which they can grow. This is especially important for the three main characters in my Dauntless Series: Annie, Daniel, and Susan B. Anthony.

Today I’m introducing three blogposts on this topic co-authored with Anita Plat-Kuiken, a fellow graduate of the Haden Institute. Both of us have used the enneagram to understand ourselves and others.

A tool for writing novels

As a tool for writing novels, the enneagram helps me recognize my characters’ inherent needs, fears, strengths, and flaws. It also makes plotting easier by showing how people can change and grow beyond their habitual ways of being.

This is especially useful since all of my characters have passed on. I can’t check my understanding of them against their own self-definitions. Fortunately, readers of historical fiction allow their authors a certain amount of creative license!

What is the enneagram?

The ancient wisdom of the enneagram indicates that all of humankind falls into one of nine personality types. Though people are different, some individuals are surprisingly similar to one another. For a video explaining this system in more detail, spend two minutes looking at this overview by Bea Chestnut. Anita and I have borrowed heavily for our understanding from Chestnut’s book (see below).

Throughout our next three posts, Anita and I will suggest types for Annie, Daniel, and Susan B. Anthony in my Dauntless Series. Then we’ll back up our choices with specific examples taken from two of my books.

Get ready for some stimulating discussion! We hope you’ll find this exploration interesting and fun, as we do.

Two last things

If looking at the Anthonys through the “ennea-lens” doesn’t intrigue you, check back soon. For your sake, I’m going to space these topical posts out over the next couple months. In between, you’ll still find plenty of more straightforward Anthony lore to keep you engaged.

As for the rest of you: have you used the enneagram? If so, what interests you about it? What type are you? What type do you think I am? Give me your comments in the space below. I read and respond to every one.


Other enneagram resources to enjoy

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