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Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 3:58 pm

Making Personas Sparkle Like Diamonds, Part 1

By Bryan Eisenberg
January 21st, 2005

Early in our company’s life, persona development was largely an intuitive process. We wanted to develop a process we could use to train clients and partners to duplicate the persona development process. To do this, we delved into literature and film to understand character development.

We were fortunate to be introduced to a prominent Hollywood screenwriter and script evaluator, David Freeman. Freeman taught us about “character diamonds,” a tool he teaches in his course, Beyond Structure. Today, we’ll share what we learned about character diamonds. Next time, we’ll look at an advertising example and some issues surrounding these tools.

Identifying Character Diamonds

Freeman teaches characters as a series of layers. One layer is the character diamond. Each corner of the diamond represents a major trait in the character’s personality. A trait helps shape how the character sees the world, speaks, thinks, and acts. “Character diamond” loosely means the combination of three, four, or five traits that govern a character’s personality.

Some characters’ personalities are spread evenly among the traits. Others might have a trait so powerful it eclipses the others. In “Star Wars,” Darth Vader’s creepy evilness is his most salient trait, although he does possess others.

Let’s examine a character from “American Beauty.” Teenage Ricky Fitts is in love with Jane Burnham, daughter of Lester, the main character.

Ricky’s character diamond looks like this:

Continue reading my column at ClickZ…

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Comments (1)

  1. Darth Vader does have so many traits and even more came out after the went back and did the first 3 episodes with him as Anakin.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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