Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zodiac

[Cue music]
The party’s over.
It’s time to call it a day.

 Or, rather, call it a month. This A-Z April Challenge Blog Hop has been fun. I hope you’ll pop back from time to time to see what else I’m up to. And don’t forget: Look for Angelica French’s first novel, Streetwalker, out from Sizzler Editions in a very short while. On to Z!

“What’s your sign?” The classic pick up line from the 70’s has become not so much an icon as a punchline. Sleazy guys in sleazy movies think it a cool way to show the girl at the bar they are interested in her. They often follow it with a line like, “Mine is penis rising.” Har-de-har-har. What a laugh. NOT!

Like any of those sleaze bag guys have ever done any research into the character traits associated with each sign! Now, whether or not you believe in the zodiac and astrology matters not a whit. If you’re a novelist , like me, A LOT of your readers do. Otherwise, the daily paper wouldn’t print horoscopes, and you couldn’t get horoscopes delivered daily to your e-ddress.

To a reader who follows astrology even a little, you can send a message about a character in your story by identifying the zodiac sign. For example, in Mission Impastable (about to be published by Oak Tree Books), Rita is a Cancer. In-the-know readers will figure she is moody and mercurial. They expect her to be very emotional and prickly. She is a clinger who has trouble letting go. I now have a blueprint for how Rita will respond in situations I place her in. See how easy that is.

I have a file in my novels folder on the zodiac and astrological signs: what they mean, who the signs are compatible with, and who they are incompatible with. [Apologies here to Sunny Frazier who writes great zodiac mysteries published by Oak Tree Press. She’s the real deal, and I just dabble in the on-line level of knowing! Seriously, check out Fools Rush In and Where Angels Fear. ]

I refer to the sign charts to find traits for my characters to build consistency of actions and motivations. For example, Cancer is a “personal” sign, meaning she is more aware of and interested in herself than in others. She is always seeking reassurance and secretly wants to feel safe financially, emotionally, and romantically. That segues beautifully into her role and how it plays out in the book.

One question on one of the character interview forms I use with my characters is, “What’s your astrological sign?” This is a great question. How well do you know your characters?

Read the zodiacal descriptors and pick the one closest to your character, then tighten up the character by explicitly including more of those traits in the story action. Be consistent with the trait building and your characters should have interesting interactions with others.

Make your antagonist someone with an oppositional sign to create tension and conflicts arising from opposing strengths and limitations. Make the best friend/ally someone with a compatible sign that helps complete the protagonist. Each can bring different strengths to the relationship.

Another way to use the zodiac is to read the descriptors and start doing character sketches without a book in mind. Getting some great master characters developed could lead to a book problem. What happens when an emotional Cancer and a cool, collected Taurus meet? Can they fall in love? Will they complement one another’s strengths or will they tear one another apart? Are their odds so at cross-purposes they cannot work together?

It’s your book. What will happen? Can’t wait to read it!


  1. No apologies necessary, Sharon! And, thanks for the shout-out.

    PS: My next mystery, "A Snitch In Time" poses the question "Can astrology be used to profile a killer?" I made a case for the possibility.

  2. Thanks, Sunny, and welcome to the blog. I can't wait to read the next episode in Christy's adventures!