For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting about the character profiles I learned about in a writing workshop back in June, first from author Mark Mynheir, who learned about it through the book How Can I Get Through to You? by Dr. Glen Foster and Mary Marshall.
The first personality type we looked at was The Feeler, who makes all decisions based on emotion. The second personality type is the The Driver, who makes decisions based on fact but has a flamboyantly emotional response to just about everything. The third personality type is The Analyzer, who bases all decisions in cold, hard, calculating logic. This morning, we’ll tackle the fourth and final base character profile, The Elitist.
Elitists are the rarest personality type, fortunately. Otherwise, life would be pretty humiliating for the rest of us mere mortals. Everything comes easy to an Elitist. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical activity or intellectual challenges, an Elitist has never struggled with anything. That’s part of the reason why they believe they are superior to everyone around them — because in all truth, they are. They are smarter, faster, quicker, more attractive, more everything than anyone else they have ever met. And they know it. And they aren’t afraid to flaunt it.
Elitists make wonderful villains. In class, the best example that was given was Professor Moriarty from the latest Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. If you want a spectacular example of an Elitist Villain, watch that movie. He’s perfect. He’s chillingly superior, completely at ease with the fact that he is intellectually and physically the most capable person in a room, and he isn’t the slightest bit concerned that anyone can stop him. Why? Because no one can.
But, not all Elitists are villains. Yes, they make great villains, but they don’t have to be. They can be good guys too — they’re just good guys who are really hard to get along with.
Here is how you can spot an Elitist:
Elitists are always appropriate. They demonstrate style, elegance, and perfect taste even in their most casual attire. Even if they choose unusual styles, it is always appropriate.
On entering a room, an Elitist is aloof, imperious and superior. They have always excelled at everything they touch, so there’s no reason they should have to mingle with the common masses.
In their initial conversation or approach, an Elitist will demonstrate a strong sense of their own prestige. They appear friendly but try to establish a superior position in relation to you.
In their initial attitude toward you, an Elitist will be considerate and pleasant but aloof. They are very observant and somewhat detached from the whole setting.
In the first few moments you speak to them, an Elitist has an aura of being someone special, often charismatic. They will stand out in the crowd by elegance, bearing, taste and manners.
Do you have an Elitists in your character arsenal? Do any of your characters match up to any of these features?
I have one, which really surprised me. And mine is a good guy! But before I get to him, how does an Elitist react to conflict?
The Elitist in Conflict:
The demeanor or image an Elitist will present is superior with a condescending attitude. They believe there is always someone or something else to be blamed, but definitely not them. Their attitude is dominating.
An Elitist will rarely attack but will be offensive when they do. They will challenge with threatened. But otherwise, they are removed from the problem. They know exactly what you’re talking about but they refuse to relate to your point. They must dominate the situation and you, not just control it.
An Elitist’s emotional response to conflict restless. Inappropriate emotions make them uncomfortable and they don’t understand why they have to be involved.
An Elitist’s intellectual response to conflict is depression. They consider themselves intellectually superior so they are depressed because no one can grasp their vision. They think about the future of relationships, what will happen and what may occur.
An Elitist’s physical response indicates that they never do anything inappropriate. They may even appear momentarily hypnotized, almost as if they have mentally shut down. Primary eye movement will be to the right.
Any of these hit home with you? I will admit to being intensely shocked when I realized that one of my characters is an Elitist. I didn’t plan to create him that way; he just turned out that way. What I’ve been doing with this character series is using my own characters to help illustrate the different personality types, and my Elitist is a gentleman by the name of Sam Logan.
Excuse me. Dr. Sam Logan. He earned his PhD at a very young age, and he doesn’t like it when people leave off the title.
Sam is a freakin’ genius, and while it matters that everybody knows, he doesn’t really care what anybody else thinks of him, mainly because no one else is as smart as he is or as strong as he is or as good a fighter as he is. So why should the opinion of sub-humans matter to someone like him?
He’s very tall, six-foot-seven. He’s very strong, an agile fighter and an experienced swordsman. He’s very attractive, and he’s a master of manipulation through conversation. He can blend in if he wants to, a feat for someone his size. But he can also stand out if he wants to. He’s witty and funny and quick. He’s driven and passionate and controlled. And he doesn’t give a flip about anybody else.
He’s very much a loner. Since no one else can compete with him intellectually, he doesn’t see the point of teamwork. So it has been interesting for him being thrown into the mix with a Feeler (Ryan Lewis), an Analyzer (Ronnie Akkard) and a Driver (Karl Goodson). There’s another Feeler in there (Stan Hawthorne), but he’s not the focus of this series at the moment.
Sam has always been on his own. He’s independent and self-motivated, and he’s never had any reason to doubt his abilities. So when he is teamed up with a Feeler like Ryan Lewis who is the leader of their team, Sam has a problem with it. Because Ryan, even though he’s the leader, doesn’t want to be the leader, doesn’t like being a leader, and doesn’t know how to make decisions. So naturally, Sam tries to take over. After all, why not? He would be a much better leader because he’s better at everything than everyone else.
Ryan probably would let him if it weren’t for the other two. Ronnie, stoic and logical Analyzer, sees the benefit of Ryan as leader because he’s not self-absorbed. Karl, flamboyant and reckless Driver, refuses to listen to anything Sam says because he doesn’t treat him with respect. And because Sam is so obviously superior in intellect, Karl doesn’t even try to appeal to his reason; Karl just tries to make him angry. Because Karl is a Driver and knows how to control people with anger.
But because Sam is Elitist, he rarely gives in to his temper; it’s inappropriate. And it’s a waste of time to expend emotion on a worthless human like Karl. So they go round and round in an endless circle of antagonism that only comes to an end when Karl finally forces Sam to blow his cool and Ryan and Ronnie are forced to intervene before they kill each other. And then Sam sinks into a lengthy depression because he’s surrounded by morons.
The trouble with having an Elitist as a main character is that they’re not truly likable. And if you have an unlikeable main character, you’re screwed. Or … you have to find a way to smooth out his rough edges.
Sam is a jerk. Just to put it plainly, he’s a big butthead. He only cares about himself, and he is only focused on the things that matter to him. But by surrounding him with people who he absolutely must rely on (and he truly does need to rely on them), he comes to see the flaws in himself. He comes to realize that maybe he isn’t as perfect as he thinks he is — or at least that he lacks something that his Feeler, Analyzer and Driver comrades have. And that is friendship.
He starts out horrible, but he learns and grows and comes to the understanding that he needs other people and that other people need him — just not in the way he thinks they need him.
Sam is one of my favorites because he is such a dynamic character. Karl stays the same through the whole series, pretty much. He a loud, obnoxious goofball with a heart like melted butter. But Sam changes. He does a complete turnaround from the beginning of the series to the end. Yes, he is still an Elitist at the end, but he has learned that being Elite is very lonely and that if he wants to change that, he has to change himself first.
He is a flawed character who realizes that he’s flawed and does his best to change. That’s what makes an Elitist likable.
And that concludes the series on the four personality types. The next post will be on integrating them together and how using these personality types and understanding them can help your fiction feel and sound more real. That’s next time!