Last year, a Twitter pal asked me if using the personality traits for the zodiac signs was an effective way of developing characters. I didn’t say “no” outright; each writer has a unique method of creating characters that works for them. The only advice I gave her was to ensure that, whatever method she used, her characters were well-rounded and realistic.
Yet her question reminded me of something very important: I had never figured out my characters’ birthdays. (*blushes*) The only reasons why are that I had been so focused on other aspects of their personality, backstory, etc., and that I didn’t plan on having birthdays coincide with events in my WIP. But it got me thinking:
“Which zodiac signs fit my WIP’s characters best? Do their personalities fit any of the signs at all? And if they do, could I determine my characters’ birthdays that way?”
The short answer, thanks to researching and experimenting over the past few months? Yes. 🙂 But before I explain how we can work backwards to do this, it’s time to unveil…
The Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Worksheets
Starting today, the Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Worksheets are available for download at the Worksheet for Writers page. This “package” contains the following items:
- Worksheet A: “Which Zodiac Sign Fits Your Character Best?” – The Activities, using the content and questions from this post in a worksheet format.
- Worksheet B: The Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Chart, which lists the twelve zodiac signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.), their calendar date ranges, and 20+ personality traits that are commonly associated with each sign. You can refer to this chart while working on the activities in this post and in Worksheet A.
Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and download the Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Worksheets. Also, remember that these worksheets and the exercises below work best if you’ve already created your characters.
How To Determine Your Character’s Zodiac Sign Using Their Personality Traits (a.k.a. How to Use the Chart)
Actually, there are two ways you can use the Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Chart! Let’s start with…
Activity #1: Instant Recognition
Using the Chart, review each sign’s set of traits and see if any immediately remind you of your characters. Is your protagonist enthusiastic, driven, and a bit headstrong? Perhaps he’s a Leo. What about his gentle, imaginative, and sensitive love interest? Pisces could be a good fit for her. Let your intuition guide you based on each character’s individual strengths and flaws.
For example, after I created the Chart, I tested it out on my characters from my YA fantasy WIP, The Keeper’s Curse. One of the first signs to catch my attention was the one for my protagonist, Eva. This girl is very much a Taurus. She’s dependable, practical, loyal to the people she cares about, and persistent when it comes to finishing projects and getting to the bottom of things. She can also be overprotective of loved ones and wickedly stubborn at times. And though Eva’s more of an introvert, her bullish side comes out when she’s angry or upset. As a result, I chose her world’s equivalent of May 1 as her birthday.
Here are two more TKC characters whose zodiac signs I identified right away:
- Gidion = Libra (September 28). Gidion is a diplomat by nature, so Libra was an easy choice for him. He’s fair-minded and idealistic, a leader who wants the best for everyone and is always willing to listen to others’ input. He also enjoys being around people and is open to more liberal beliefs (interracial marriage, women in positions of power, etc.) than most Fei are.
- Keli = Gemini (June 2). The Council’s chief spy has a Gemini’s “split” personality. When he’s on assignment, his cleverness, adaptability, and sense of adventure come in handy. But when he’s off-duty, he easily switches to his playful, restless, witty other self – a side he sometimes fails to turn “off” at the right time.
Activity #2: Compare & Count
Not all of your characters’ zodiac signs will instantly recognizable. In these instances, you can compare a character’s traits to each individual sign. It’s a little more involved than Activity #1, but it works just as well. You may want to have a blank sheet of paper handy for this exercise, too.
Here are the steps for Compare & Count:
- Choose one of your characters, and list her positive and negative attributes. If you already have this information in a character profile, have a copy ready for Step #2.
- Compare your character’s traits to one of the columns in the Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Chart, and write down the number of common traits.
- Repeat Step #2 for each zodiac sign column in the Chart.
- Determine which zodiac sign has the highest number of common traits. This sign is most likely the best fit for your character. Feel free to read an online profile of this sign before you decide. (Links to zodiac websites are available at the end of this post.)
- If two zodiac signs have the same number of common traits, read an online profile of each sign before deciding which one is the more accurate match.
- If two neighboring signs (Aries and Taurus, Gemini and Cancer, etc.) have the same number or close of common traits, it’s likely that your character was born on the cusp of two signs. Learn more about cusp signs here.
I used Compare & Count for quite a few TKC characters, including Aurek Kolsteg. His
closest zodiac fit turned out to be Cancer. In a way this surprised me, since he’s a soldier and co-leader of his clan. However, his protectiveness of friends and family, generosity, supportive of others’ passions, and preference for compassion over cruelty are all Cancerian traits. So are his strong work ethic, insecurity (specifically as a leader), and desire for privacy. And since he doesn’t share many Gemini or Leo traits, it made sense to pick a birthday in the true range of his Cancer sign (July 8).
Let me give you two more instances of Compare & Count with TKC’s characters:
- Vandar = Leo-Virgo Cusp (August 25). I originally thought Vandar, who’s the Council’s military strategist, would be a Leo because of his “natural-born leader” personality. Yes, he’s confident, honest, and reluctant to compromise. But he’s also quiet, logical, hardworking, and critical of others – all Virgo qualities. He ended up having an equal number of traits for both signs, so I chose a birthday early in the Virgo range, since he’s more of an introvert.
- Doni = Virgo-Libra Cusp (September 21). Doni’s sign was nearly impossible to pin down via Instant Recognition. But when I used Compare & Count, his best zodiac fit was clear. Like a Virgo, he’s diligent, kind, nurturing, and constantly putting others’ needs ahead of his own. And like a Libra, he’s a “people person” with a deep sense of fairness, respect, and social responsibility. All of this makes sense, since Doni is the Council’s chief healer.
There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Fit
No one is a 100% match with their zodiac sign. I see several aspects of my Virgo sign in me (detail-oriented, responsible, shy, worrywart), but not others. (Example: I don’t like to judge others, and I try to limit my perfectionism to myself!) You might think the same way about you and your astrological sign.
Remember this as you do the above exercises with your characters. You’re not looking for the “perfect” fit – you’re looking for the closest fit, the most appropriate or reflective sign that will help you pin down a logical birthday for that character. So, give these worksheets and activities a try. You might be surprised with what you discover.
Additional Astrology & Zodiac Sign Links (a.k.a. The Reference Section)
Here are the sites I researched for creating the Zodiac Signs & Character Traits Chart. Check them out if you want more information about various signs or for verifying your character’s signs after finishing each exercise.
- Born on the Cusp @ Tarot.com (great if you’re looking for more information on cusp signs)
- Horoscope Dates
- Universal Psychic Guild
- What’s Your Sign?
- Zodiac Central @ Tarot.com
Do you know your character’s birthday and/or zodiac sign? If not, what are your results after trying these exercises and worksheets? Also, what is your astrological sign, and how closely does it match your personality?