Birth order, part 1, or why your characters behave the way they do

Birth Order


Why Your Characters Behave The Way They Do

Does your hero run a large corporation?  Is he a mover and shaker in the business world?  Or is he in a creative field such as advertising or entertainment?  Does he negotiate well?  Speak first and regret it afterward?  Maybe he’s the life of every party. Whatever his occupation, you can bet his birth order had an effect on his personality and career choice.  First born children generally share characteristics, as do last borns and middle borns. Not all attributes apply to each birth order, but on average studies have shown them to be more true than not.

Today, we’ll discuss the peculiarities of the first born and the middle child.  Next week, we’ll look at the youngest, only child and twins as well as the variables that can affect their behavior.

Whatever your character's occupation, you can bet his birth order had an effect on his personality and career choice.


First Born Children

First Born children usually have the most attention directed at him/her, even before birth, because the pregnancy was a BIG DEAL.  More likely than not, multiple generations pin hopes and dreams on them and pressure them to perform from day one.

They are their parents’ “guinea pig”, and their parents often overdo and overprotect their first born child.  The first born child grows up faster. Parents hand them responsibility early.

Some common characteristics:

Perfectionist Reliable List maker Organized Critical
Goal oriented Prompt Scholarly In control Well groomed
Motivated to achieve success Believes in law and order No gray areas Likes structure Logical
Critical Energetic Ambitious Enterprising Serious


Professions – A higher percentage of first borns are in science, medicine, law, accounting, architecture, engineers, computers, and reporters (except on air.)

He gets things done and has confidence in being taken seriously by others.

21 of the first 23 astronauts were first born children.

2/3 of entrepreneurs are first born children.

Strengths Weaknesses
High confidence level, taken seriously, strong concentration, confident, feels supported and that they will be respected for what they do A fear of being dethroned, overachiever, strong-willed, feel as though they’re never good enough, selfish, critical


Two typical types

First born children come in two typical types – compliant/willing to please and assertive/strong willed.

The compliant first born grows up as a pleaser of others.  Since childhood, he was the one responsible to get things done.  His parents depended on him, and it was his solemn duty to not let them down.

Common characteristics of the compliant first born:

Reliable Good student Pleaser Nurturer Strong need for approval
Won’t complain Team player Conscientious Cooperative “Grin & bear it” mentality


The second type is the assertive, strong willed type.  They are the pace-setters and trend-setters.  They have high expectations, not only of themselves, but everyone else.

Common characteristics of the assertive first born:

Assertive Strong-willed Precise Insistent High achiever
Driven Perfectionist In control Want things their way Conventional


Famous first borns:

Oprah, Charlton Heston, Rush Limbaugh



Middle Children

Middle childrens’ attitude and lifestyle plays off that of the firstborn child.  Generally, their personalities are the opposite of their older sibling.  If he senses he can compete, he will.  If the older child is stronger or smarter, the second may go off in another direction.

Middle borns may feel like a fifth wheel.  They go outside of their family to create a “family” with friends. Middles are the most secretive of all birth orders, because they feel the world isn’t paying attention and chose not to confide their plans.

They are the last to seek professional help because they consider themselves mentally tough and independent.

Others consider them the most monogamous, and they have a strong commitment to make the marriage work.

Professions include sales, art, advertising, a career that involves negotiating or being level headed and unbiased.

They are tenacious because they’re used to life being unfair.

Middle children characteristics include:

Strengths Weaknesses
Peacemakers, unspoiled, realistic, imaginative, loyal, mediator, independent, flexible, diplomatic Hates confrontation, stubborn, suspicious, rebellious, “family” is friends, difficulty setting boundaries


Like first borns, they come in two types.

Type 1:

Loner Quiet, shy Impatient Uptight Fights for respect


Type 2:

Outgoing Friendly Loud Laid back Patient


Famous middle children are Donald Trump, Tim Allen, Julia Roberts, Richard Nixon, David Letterman

Birth Order: Resources

The Birth Order Book, Why You Are The Way You are by Dr. Kevin Leman, the importance of birth order

The Ultimate Personality Guide by Jennifer Freed and Debra Birnbaum


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National Novel Writing Month, revised

How to write a book in a month

How to write a book in a month, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNo, is traditionally held in the month of November.  (go to My writing group unanimously agrees that November is the second suckiest month to write a book (superseded only by December).

Traditionally, we pick the dullest, dreariest part of the year to host our own writing challenge, Winter NaNo.  This month, from the February meeting (2-11) until the March meeting (3-10), participants challenge each other to write 32K words.  No editing, no revising, nothing but pure stream of consciousness writing.  The internal editor is locked in a dark closet, and we all have each other’s keys.  We’re so serious about this, we’re bringing our laptops to the February meeting to kick off the event and will spend a dedicated amount of time writing on our projects.

A minimal donation is made, with the pot split between the organization and one lucky winner.  Writers who can’t make the goal pay a small penalty.

Sharing a goal like this is invigorating.  You know everyone’s in the same boat, so there’s no excuse not to write.  The competition is fierce, especially to be the first to claim “I made it.”

Several NaNo projects written by my fellow authors have been sold and published.  More motivation.

What are you hoping to write this month?  What is your motivation?

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Stuck? In life? On the page? There’s an app for that



If you’re the owner of an iPad, you’re in luck in getting unstuck.  Whether personally or professionally, this app is great for diagnosing your problem, getting to the root cause and giving you manageable, workable action steps to get unstuck.

If you’re a writer, have your characters answer various questions to give you answers as to why they aren’t behaving.


Here are six action steps to take to get you unstuck:

* First, download the program (FREE) and register (you can use your Facebook logon).

*  Pick 3 of 18 cards that best describes how your stuck moment makes you feel, ranging from afraid to up in the air.  Let’s say you pick “Lost” as your stuck emotion.  Unstuck will ask a variety of questions such as “What are you stuck on?” and “I’m stuck because_____”

*  Use the diagnostic tools.  One is a pack of 20 cards with statements on them which you sort into “So me” and “Not me” piles. From your answers, you’ll assigned a category (ie Avoider) and given action steps, tools, tips, and a cyber kick in the butt.

* Set a goal, give yourself a deadline and outline consequences for not following through.

* Post your goals and deadline on Facebook or connect to the Unstuck community for motivation and accountability.

*  Follow through on your plan and get unstuck.

It’s a great tool, and way lots cheaper than therapy.

What things are you stuck on?


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