Using Multiple Intelligences with your Characters

by Tim Kane

We all know to use sensory details to brighten up our prose. However, few writers are aware of the eight multiple intelligences and how they can add depth to your characters.

Basically, this psychologist named Howard Gardner surmised that humans don’t simply have one type of intelligence. They have eight. Here’s a basic run down.

Linguistic Intelligence
Folks with this type of intelligence are good with words (think writers). They like to tell stories and read.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Ever know that person who’s disgustingly good at math? That’s this intelligence. However, it’s not only math. It could be those who like to make lists and keep things organized.

Spatial Intelligence
People with this intelligence can “see” how things fit together. They can pack a suitcase or a trunk like no other. They often take fields in engineering or architecture.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
These are the sports types. Dancers too. People who can actually get all their limbs to work right to throw the ball or learn the choreography. These are also the people who can’t sit still to save their life. They need to move and act things out. When they speak, they often gesticulate.

Musical Intellienge
This one is straightforward. Music types. Band camp. Anyone who whistles or hums all the time would fit in this intelligence. They can carry a tune (or desperately want to) and keep a beat (even if they have two left feet).

Interpersonal Intelligence
These folks are constantly aware of the people around them. The gossips and flirts. The social climbers. They understand social life and and read it like a book.

Intrapersonal Intelligence
Whereas interpersonal types see all the people around, an intrapersonal person looks within. Meditative, this person knows his or her own limits. He can sense his emotions. She knows what she’s capable of.

Naturalist Intelligence
This person can easily classify living things. Farmers, botanists, and hunters all fall into this intelligence. These folk live for the natural world, like weather, animals, and geology. They enjoy hiking or strolling on the beach, gardening, or staring at clouds.

Now that you have the eight, think of which intelligences your character has. What is he/she good at. This will help you figure out how he/she will react to the world of your novel. Also consider which intelligences your character is lacking. For example, I lack in the Interpersonal department. I can’t recall people’s names to save my life. For me, everyone needs a name tag.

Keep these intelligences in mind the next time you craft your character.


About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a writer of fiction.
This entry was posted in Writing Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Using Multiple Intelligences with your Characters

  1. Do you know if there is a scale for home much of each intelligence someone has? I would say I have different levels of strengths in each, some more than others. I guess I could just use a simple 1-10 scale. It’s a great way to think about characters though.

  2. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 10-25-2012 « The Author Chronicles

  3. Pingback: How do you learn best? | demonlibrarian

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