In the world of Element Unknown and its upcoming sequel, elementology is the science that brings sense to the fact that people can shot fire balls out of their hands, read the thoughts of others, shift into shadows, and even fly. The best definition of this science is found at the beginning of chapter nine of Element Unknown:
Elementology, the study of the classic elements, and their effects on sentient beings, is a relatively new science. The classic elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air were considered the building blocks of the world until the discovery of chemical elements. Yet, despite being discredited as critical for life’s existence, these four classic elements have played vital roles in entertainment, literature, and pop culture for centuries. It appeared as if that pattern would continue for as long as sentient beings remained on this planet. But the Great Cataclysm, the event during which myth became reality and fantasy creatures became our everyday neighbors, changed that for all.
—The New Science of Elementology: The Discovery, the Research, and the Predictions.
Breaking down the four main elements into their corresponding personality traits is pretty simple.
- Water: Just like a river flowing peacefully, Waters are calm, soft-spoken people. They tend to pick artistic occupations (usually in the visual or literary arts) or selfless and giving occupations. Emotions are both their strength and their weakness, allowing themselves to be easily hurt or taken advantage of. When hurt, they turn cold-blooded and hold some of the harshest grudges.
- Earth: There is a common saying among various cultures of Element Unknown: "If you want the truth, ask an Earth." Earths are the rational, impartial deep thinkers, always standing with truth. They are naturally shy and only are placed in leadership positions when no one else will step up. Yet, they do not make the best leaders, usually being indecisive and socially awkward. They also aren't the quickest to make changes. Rather, they tend to resist change, especially if they deem it unnecessary.
- Fire: The line between lover and fighter is pretty thin for Fires. They love hard and are full of passion, which can sometimes get them into trouble by being too flirtatious. They're natural leaders and physically and mentally durable, making them perfect for politics or the military. Yet, they can be quick-tempered, impulsive, and rather blunt. There isn't a lot of checks and balances with Fires.
- Air: These are the social butterflies of the four, loving to be the center of attention. They tend to be natural performers and often seek occupations that allow them to interact with others. In friend groups, they are almost always the bubbly, energetic friend. Some of their negative qualities are their flightiness and narcissistic nature. With an Air around, there is rarely a dull moment.
The process in creating this system took time, research, and feedback from close friends and family. It went through some iterations through the first draft of Element Unknown and has only evolved further during the writing of its sequel. I hope to shed a little bit of light onto the inspiration and creation of elementology.
Quizilla, Mood Rings, and True Colors
I have been fascinated with personality types since I was little. I believe that this interest was fostered by online quizzes, mood jewelry, and the True Colors personality typing program.
During my youth, a frequent pastime of mine was taking quizzes on the old site, Quizilla, which contained quizzes such as "Which Disney Princess are you?", "Who is your perfect anime boyfriend?", and the like. I would spend hours taking quizzes and comparing results with friends. This was one of the first experiences I had in seeing personality typing. Granted, these quizzes used a very rudimentary way of typing personalities, but it piqued my interest in learning more.
Mood jewelry, e.g. mood rings, were all the rage during my late elementary and junior high years. It wasn't until much later that I realized the jewelry went by the body temperature of a person rather than the actual mood. Despite that, I loved looking at the different colors and moods relationships, such as blue for calm, red for anger, and green for curiosity.
The final influence from my school years was True Colors, not the song by Cyndi Lauper or its various samples (my personal favorite being Fredro Starrr and Jill Scott's rendition), but the personality typing program that my high school introduced. Taking the assessment was part of the class called Pathways, an introductory class required for all ninth graders. The Pathways class was split into two different curriculum. One focused on soft skills and was held in a traditional classroom. The other focused on more technical skills like typing and computer aided design (CAD). I believe that the True Colors assessment was taken during one of the special lab days for the soft side of Pathways. It was mainly used to determine what sort of occupations would best suit us. I loved taking the test and seeing my results, getting a better sense of me. I remember being a mix of blue and green, usually more blue than green. The suggested careers for me involved science, medicine, or the arts. It was an unusual mix since most of my classmates only had one dominate color. Gold and Orange were the most popular, so even back then, I realized that I was a little different. However, it wasn't until I really grew interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that I realized just how rare I was.
Around 2013, I had found some new friends who shared my love of theoretical discussions and detailed analysis. They introduced me to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and reignited my interest in personality typing. I found a free test to determine my type. At first, I got INTJ (Introvert-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging). Reading the description of the type, I found that it sounded very similar to me and had accepted it as my type. However, a friend of mine suggested that I found another test and retake it. He said that he couldn't see me as an INTJ, which he had intensely studied (it was his type after all).
I decided to take up his suggestion and found a new site that had a free assessment, 16 Personalities. I was drawn to the cute illustrations of people representing types and the friendly and educational tone the website had. With this new assessment, I learned that I was an INTP (Introvert-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiving/Prospecting), a type making up only three percent of the population. The more I read, the more convinced I was that this was my correct type. The strengths of being imaginative, original, honest, and open-minded definitely matched what my friends enjoyed about me. Yet, their complaints of my very private and withdrawn nature also matched the weaknesses of INTPs from 16 Personalities.
Once I typed myself, I studied the rest of the types to try to find my parents, my siblings, and other friends who weren't too interested in MBTI. Eventually, I became well studied in the subject, which I am sure, aided in my creation of the science of elementology.
Complications of Creation
There was a part in the draft of Element Unknown where I knew that I needed to fully flesh out elementology. Meenal was doing a bunch of research on the topic and it wouldn't be very informative for the reader if I as the author didn't really know the science.
The beginning of the development was pretty easy. Thinking about it now, I am sure I pulled from the ideas of my youth for the colors/elements and their corresponding traits. The ocean is filled with soothing blue waves. Fire is bright, energetic, and potentially dangerous. Mountains are unmoving and consistent. Wind is unpredictable. However, I did run into some trouble, even contradictions, when getting the fine details together about the elements.
One example of this was when I was finishing up Earth. I originally had Earths being family-oriented as well as very introverted. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something didn't add up. While one can be family-oriented with a shy nature, that wasn't what I attended for Earths. Fires were already strongly attached to their friends and family and I didn't want characteristics to repeat too much between the elements. After discussing the Earth element with some friends, we finally figured out that Earths were just assumed to have strong family bonds because they seriously took the responsibility of caring for their own. So while some may have had strong familial bonds, most were around their family only because of obligation.
Elementology has gone through many different versions and with the sequel nearing its completion, this will be the most researched it has ever been. Will I add to it later once Book II is complete? Maybe. I have a very, very loose plot for a Book III (that may not happen once I officially finish Book II) and a somewhat more defined plot for a book in the same universe. I might even code a "What's your element?" quiz on the website as a callback to my past and current loves of personality typing.
Have you figured out your MBTI type or even your element? I'm curious to know! Until next time.