Note: for those unfamiliar with the Enneagram, it’s a personality typing system illustrated by the pretty diagram below.
It’s my favorite system for character development, both in the sense of real-world self knowledge and fiction writing. I love it because it focuses not on behavior, but on root motivations, anxieties, and patterns in solving the problems that go along with those things. I would love to write my own lengthy write-up of how it works and how you can use it for writing. But currently I’m challenging myself to write a fast thing every weekday for a month, so I’m just going to explain them all with pop songs. If you want to read more, here’s some fun links.
1. The Perfectionist, also called the Reformer or the Judge. The type motivated by a desire to transform the world, and a deep-seated fear of inner corruption. Bossy and demanding, but also capable of incredible personal integrity.
Theme song: Quiet, by MILCK
“Something is wrong with the world, and I WILL be talking about it.”
2. The Giver, also known as the Helper. The type motivated by a desire to help others and a fear of being left alone. Sugar sweet with a side of clinginess.
Theme song: Kill ‘Em With Kindness, by Selena Gomez
“I solve all my problems by loving everybody.”
3. The Performer, also called the Achiever. Motivated by a desire for success and a fear of ostracism. The hard working, image conscious guru, and the prettier half of 90% of all power couples.
Theme song: Finesse, by Bruno Mars
“The best thing about how great we look is that everybody knows how great we look.”
4. The Romantic, also called the Individualist and (if you ask 4s themselves) the Tortured Artist. The type preoccupied with self-knowledge and preservation of the soul, terrified of the idea of losing their own identity. Deeply authentic and unafraid of the darker sides of human nature, prone to turning issues most would flinch with into breathtaking art. Also, let’s face it, capable of being a real whiny bitch.
… Full disclosure; I’m a solid 4.
Theme song: Lose Yourself, by Eminem
“My life sucks and I cope by throwing myself into my art. The worst thing that can happen is an artistic block.”
5. The Observer, also called the Investigator. The one who fears incompetence and copes by withdrawing to a world of ideas and discovery. The classic reclusive genius.
Theme song: Handlebars, by Flobots
“I can solve all my problems by mastering obscure skills and accumulation of knowledge.”
6. The Loyal Skeptic, one of the few types that is always described with a similar two-word phrase, although I also like to think of this type as the Lieutenant. This is the person who handles their anxiety by forming a squad, being loyal to their squad, and every so often slamming the fucking door on a member of their squad; not, and this is important, not because that member was necessarily mean to them personally, but because they were fucking up the group.
Theme song: New Rules, by Dua Lipa
“I loved you. You fucked me over. It will be hard to get over you, but I will do it, because I’ve still got everyone else who I’m loyal to, and I’m going to teach them how to recognize and avoid assholes like you.”
7. The Epicure, or the Enthusiast. The person who avoids bad feelings by always being on the brink of a new adventure. Flaky as hell, but a shit ton of fun when you can manage to keep up with them.
Theme song: Cheap Thrills, by Sia
“There is no practical obstacle that will stop me from having a good time.”
8. The Protector, or the Challenger. The one who copes with all the terrors of life by being in charge. Of everything. All the time. At their worst, they make the controlling Enneagram 1 look like a lightweight, but at their best, you’ll never feel safer than when you have an 8 at your back.
Theme song: Gangsta’s Paradise, by Coolio
“Life is brutish and short, but at least I’m the king of it.”
9. The Peacemaker, or the Mediator. The one who is hit by everyone’s fears all at once, and just wants to find some peace. Whether this means they’re the ultimate conflict avoider or the ultimate conflict avoider depends on the maturity of the individual.
Theme song: Let it Be, by The Beatles
….Come on, it’s right there in the title.