©1999, 2000 Judith Searle, Page One Newsletter
Judith Searle has had a successful double career as an actress and a
writer. Her theatrical resume includes credits on and off Broadway, in
stock and regional theaters, feature films, primetime and daytime television,
commercials, and voice-overs. She is the author of two books: Getting
the Part: Thirty-three Professional Casting Directors Tell You How to Get
Work in Theater, Films, Commercials, and TV (currently available in
a revised expanded edition from Limelight Editions) and Lovelife,
a novel published by NAL Books. Her articles on theater and the entertainment
industry have appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, and The Drama
Review. Her television writing includes scripts for "General Hospital"
and "Reading Newspapers," a 30-program series she created for public television.
She regularly conducts writing workshops at the University of California
Irvine and at The New School in New York City. A graduate of Wellesley
College, she holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University.
An acknowledged expert on the Enneagram, she has published many articles
in Enneagram Monthly, the premier journal in the field, including "The
Latitude and Longitude of Enneagram Fixations," "The Four-Point-On Theory
and a Six Organization in Distress," and "Story Genres and Enneagram Types."
She has spoken to the Writers Guild of America (west) and Women in Theatre
on "Using the Enneagram to Create Characters". She is currently at work
on a book called "The Enneagram from the Inside: Literary and Film Examples
of the Nine Types" (to be published by Hohm Press).
"What is "The Enneagram to Create Characters" and how long have
you been practicing this type of character development. How and why is
this method beneficial to writers?"
"The Enneagram is a sophisticated system of personality typing that
has powerful applications to the work of writers. I've been working as
a book doctor and teacher of writing workshops since the mid-80's, and
I discovered the Enneagram in the early 90s. I immediately saw that it
could help fiction writers, screenwriters and playwrights create more dimensional
characters, devise more effective character grids, and gain insight into
why they are drawn to write in particular genres. While most typologies
deal only with static lists of traits, the Enneagram offers special insights
into character arcs. Because it describes the distinctive ways the nine
basic human types behave under stress and when feeling secure, writers
can use it as a power tool to develop plot and character twists that are
both inevitable and surprising."
"You've had a double career as an actress and a writer -- Which do
you find the most compelling and challenging and why?"
"My career as a "working actress" went the way most actresses' careers
go in middle age: into a nose dive. I started my first novel to keep my
sanity while waiting for the phone to ring, and I've written three novels,
one of which has been published ("Lovelife," NAL Books). Before I waved
goodbye to my acting career, I did a series of interviews with casting
directors and collected them into a book that is still selling well ("Getting
the Part: Thirty-Three Professional Casting Directors Tell You How to Get
Work in Theater, Films, Commercials and TV," Limelight Editions). I've
also co-authored a book on parenting ("Sleep Talk" by Lois Y. Haddad, R.N.
with Patricia Wilson and Judith Searle). For me writing has been much more
satisfying than acting because I have more control over the final product
and more freedom to work when the spirit moves me. Being a Perfectionist
(Type One on the Enneagram) I take a lot of satisfaction in polishing my
own work as well as helping other writers make their work as good as it
"Who is your favorite writer and why? What was the last fiction/novel
"William Shakespeare is peerless in world literature. During the last
four years, as I've been researching and writing my book of literary examples
of Enneagram types ("The Enneagram from the Inside: Literary and Film Examples
of the Nine Types"), I've returned again and again to the Bard's glorious
characters. Many of my chapters contain excerpts from his plays, and the
way characters like Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth and Cleopatra follow
character arcs predicted by the Enneagram is a striking validation of the
system. The last novel I read simply for pleasure (not as part of my researches)
was Carolyn See's "The Handyman," a funny, sexy, engaging story that is
pure joy. Her quirky central character completely fits his Enneagram type,
yet is continually surprising. See's other books are also a treat: "Golden
Days" and "Dreaming," especially, are not to be missed."
"What do you cover in your workshops?"
"The workshop is a lot of fun: I show half an hour of film clips on
each of the nine Enneagram types--a mix of males and females, heroes and
villains and just average folks--so it's easy for writers to see how each
character is both unique AND representative of his/her type. I also give
participants a 110-page workbook that contains excerpts from 18 novels
(most of them classics) that show the inner psychological process of each
of the types (both male and female examples). I also discuss the nine-pointed
Enneagram diagram to show what a gold mine it is for seeing character arcs
in their full range, and I offer my version of the unwritten rules of various
story genres and how they relate to the nine types. (For example, the thriller
has the same basic world view as Enneagram type Six: the world is a dangerous
place, a place of "us versus them," and one's safety lies in attracting