I recently discovered an amazing writing tool, courtesy of another writer. (Shout out to Kristen Lamb @authorkristenlamb.com).
It’s called the Johari Window.
It was created by two psychologists in 1955 – Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. They thought it would help people to better understand their relationship to themselves and others. Self-help groups and corporate team-building exercise leaders loved it.
Ugh, I know. Snoozefest.
However, if you stop reading right now just remember this – these two guys named their creation after themselves – JO for Joseph and HARI for Harringtion – which is kinda cute.
Great, because if you don’t think, Wow, this would be a great tool for character development the first time you see a Johari Window, then I don’t know what I can do for you.
That first box – OPEN (sometimes called ARENA) – this is all the information that your character knows about him/her/their self and that everyone else knows, too. Like – he used to be a lap dancer, but then he became an EMT, and now he’s a convicted felon out on parole.
That second box – BLIND SPOT – contains stuff about your character that other people know, but that your character is currently ignorant of, or blind to.
Like – she feels worthless and ashamed because she can’t afford name brand clothes, but other people see her as creative and stylish.
The third box – HIDDEN (sometimes called FAÇADE) – is full of all the crap your character knows about themselves, but that they keep hidden from everybody else.
Like – they have a shoe fetish, only no one can tell because they have 40 pairs of the same style shoe.
The fourth box – UNKNOWN – is where all the stuff that no one in your story knows about yet.
Like – aliens have been keeping an eye on your character ever since they were born, because your character’s bio-dad is the leader of a great civilization on Alpha Centauri.
Once you use the Johari Window to map out your protagonist, you can continue to use it to structure your story. The way you do that is to design a story problem that will eventually help your protagonist finally see their blind spot and how it’s negatively affecting their life and other people’s lives too. And in the process of doing that, you want to shrink that UNKNOWN box by the story’s end with the goal of ending up with a more balanced, whole person who knows who they are, likes who they are, and knows where they’re going.
Have you ever seen the Johari Window before? And have you used it in your writing?
Let me know in the Comments section.
Thanks for reading.