October 16, 2012


Over the past few weeks, I've been watching the TV show "The Legend of Korra" (for which I make no apologies) with Jenny and her husband.  And in our family, one does not simply "watch a TV show," any more than one simply "reads a book."  If it's good, it worms its way into our daily vocabulary; its best quotes get stored in our repertoire.  If it's bad it still gets into our vocabulary, only in more abusive terms.

But Korra has proven to be an enjoyable series thus far, not least because of the concept it presents of "bending" - the innate ability in certain people to manipulate an element.  Some are fire-benders; some water-benders; some earth-benders; and a very few, for reasons explained in a previous show, air-benders.  The Avatar, in this case Korra, is the only one able to manipulate all four elements.  Of course this means the Avatar is called upon to save the world, defeat the bad guys, etc., but that's beside the point for this blog post.

What started me thinking was the influence a character's personality has on his or her element, or vice versa, or whatever.  Because of course my mind naturally went from there to, "What element would my characters be?"  Running through the lists of my characters, I had, in general, an easy job pegging each with the element that best fitted their personality.  I think we all associate certain traits with each element right off the cuff.  For instance:

fire: impulsiveness; quick temper; passion; magnetism; ambition

earth: stability; strength; stubbornness; dignity; pessimism

water: constancy; loyalty; sensitivity; idealism; discretion

air: imagination; humor; optimism; spontaneity; enthusiasm

As I am doing some rewriting of Wordcrafter at the moment, the characters I first started thinking about were from this cast.  Here's the run down.

Ethan Prince - fire, through and through.  He's got all of the things mentioned, and a manipulative streak thrown in besides.  He has a charisma lacking in others; hence his natural magnetism.

Justin King - water, although I considered earth as well.  But Justin has the constancy and loyalty that springs to mind when I think of "water," plus discretion and sensitivity.  Idealism, I'm not so sure.  Like earth, however, Justin is stable, often stubborn, and given to pessimism.

Jamie Fairbairn - fire.  This is part of what makes her clash so horribly with Ethan, and what attracts Justin to her.  (Jenny and I were discussing the other day how "water" characters seem to gravitate toward "fire" characters.  Seems a risky combination for the fire, to me...)

Copper, the Jackal's daughter - water again.  You could hardly get more constant than Copper, and she is certainly idealistic.

So there's the major cast of Wordcrafter.  What about that of White Sail's, which is even fresher in my mind?  Off the topmost part of my head, this is how I would categorize these people.

Tip Brighton - earth.  I don't know about the dignity, but Tip has strength of character and of body, he's a pessimist, and he is both stable and stubborn.  He can be summed up in the image of a brick wall.

Marta Rais - water, I think, though she's a bit hard to pin down (as water generally is).  She is sensitive and constant, and perhaps a little too discrete.

Charlie Bent - fire.  When I picture him I think of water, but his character tends more toward the explosive and impressive qualities of fire.  He's passionate, ambitious, and competitive, as well as arrogant.  He does not, however, have the magnetism of an Ethan.

Jo Darkwood - water.  Quiet, constant Jo, always there to put out Charlie's fire when necessary - no other element fits him so well.

William Lewis - fire.  He combines a quick temper with ambition and a calculating mind, but unfortunately for himself, he has none of the hard-working tendencies of earth to make him succeed.

Here are a few of my characters, then, as summed up by an element.  I never seem to have any air characters, at least not at the forefront; one background character in Wordcrafter definitely has all the characteristics of air, however.

What elements summarize your characters?  Do tell!


  1. I've always had an interest in the elements, and tend use them on my characters. Robin, for instance, is definitely fire, while her twin brother is more a cross between earth and water. The interesting thing, however, is that in my book Water Princess, Fire Prince, the Water Princess has more of a fire personality, while the Fire Prince is more of a water personality ... umm ... at least Wind Prince is more an Air person.

  2. That is so cool... And just from the snippets I've seen of your stories, I'm pretty sure I would have chosen the same elements.
    I love how their personalities are so strong they come right through, even just in the lines and paragraphs you've posted!

  3. Ooh, I never though of element-izing my characters! :) Let me see...
    My main character, Ara, is definitely a mix of fire and water. Which is a truly strange thing if I ever saw one. She is very discreet, sensitive, and loyal, yet her loyalty will take her to the flaming heights of fire: impulsive and quick-tempered.
    Favian is air through and through: enthusiastic, optimistic, and spontaneous. You can see why he's probably my favorite. :)
    And then there's Kaitlyn. For the most part, she is water: quiet, sensitive, discreet, loyal...but she also is fearful, longing, and at times unsure. And I've never seen water unsure to topple over rocks! ;)


  4. What a fascinating idea. I've been interested in elements in the past, and creating characters based on those elements, but I haven't thought about it in a long time. Let's see ... in my novel "Six Cousins," I delight in the character differences of my six main characters. Marielle is water all the way: constant, loyal, sensitive, idealistic, and discreet, everything you listed! Reanna is similar, but so reserved not much shows. Caroline is air, no doubt about it, and a little fire shows through at times. Her sister, Emma, is earth, but she isn't pessimistic. Abby is earth and fire. Her sister, Kailey, is harder to pin down, but I'd have to go with air for the humor and enthusiasm and fire for the impulsiveness and temper. My second novel that features them has another character, Paris, who is mostly fire plus a little bit of earth and air.
    I like thinking about my character in terms of the four temperaments, too. Way back in homeschooling while we were studying the Middle Ages, I did a chart on how the elements and the temperaments correspond in medieval thought. Air = sanguine; fire = choleric; earth = melancholy; water = phlegmatic. It's also interesting to see how people you know match up; often you'll find they're a mixture, which makes sense, because people are beautiful and complicated creations.

  5. Interesting! Today I've a seen show with children based on these four elements. And that under the guidance of celtic music, very loud. Goosebumps, too loud.
    And know I read about it on your site!
    My protagonist is earth and water :-)

  6. Kendra - Ooh, that's an interesting twist (regarding the princess and the prince). I was intrigued to discover that my other redhead in Wordcrafter, although his hair is fiery, turned out with an "air" personality. He's definitely an airhead, at any rate...

    Katherine Sophia - I'm so glad you find that the characters' personalities carry through! I'm always a little curious to know how others perceive them. It can be difficult to know if I'm communicating them the way I would like to.

    Bree - Air characters are a lot of fun, although I've never written one as a protagonist. They tend to stay as supporting characters. I wonder what that says about my own personality!

    Kelsey - Oh, good point about the four humors! There's another fun test to run one's character through. The Middle Ages was full of fascinating sciences... I like how you represent the elements among such a large cast!

    Aritha - Glad you liked it! I find earth and water have a tendency to go together.

  7. A fascinating post, Abigail (late commenter again, silly me!)

    For some reason I love Ethan Prince and Justin King's the best... :).

    Valerius, my protagonist would be a mix of earth and water, more towards water though.
    Claudia is a queer mix of water and fire
    and Anthea is air and fire and earth all jumbled into one :p.

    Flavius fire. Full-stop.

  8. This is a very intriguing idea. I think the girl-twin in my main story would be water. The boy-twin is fire, all the way.

    Now I want to do this for all of my characters. ;)


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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