Writing Characters of Tin

Once a character has a small amount of spiritual energy in them, they become a character of tin. This represents the next stage up the spiritual ladder from lead. As tin is brighter than lead, characters of tin are brighter than characters of lead. However, tin is still near the bottom of the vertical spectrum.

Tin is represented by the planet Jupiter. As such, it is typified by largeness. The typical character of tin is one that other people would describe as “larger than life”. In much the same way that characters of lead can be marked by being small, characters of tin can be marked by being large.

This largeness does not imply any of the other qualities typical of the higher elements. Characters of tin may be large, but they are seldom physically disciplined like the characters of iron. Rather, men of tin have big beer bellies and women of tin have gigantic breasts. The stereotypical jolly fat man is a man of tin.

Jupiter gives us the word jovial, which is the characteristic adjective of characters of tin. This joviality expresses itself as an uncomplicated sociability. Characters of tin, having advanced past the level of lead, understand that life must be enjoyed rather than merely survived. As such, they are all about the next party.

The archetypal emotion of a character of tin is joy. Whereas the character of lead is fearful and suspicious, the character of tin overflows with warmth – perhaps too much. They can be the sort of person whose good-natured naivety leads to them getting their pocket picked. They can also be the sort of person who gets a little bit too flirtatious with the waitress and so upsets their wife.

The flipside of this is guilt. Characters of tin frequently find themselves feeling guilty on account of overindulging in some passion or failing to resist some temptation. Although they’re not petty criminals like characters of lead can be, and they’re not sadistic brutes like characters of iron can be, their impulsive and passionate nature can induce them to commit practically any crime that characters of lead and iron are capable of.

The archetypal occupation for a character of tin is a publican or bartender. When surrounded by other people who are drinking booze and cutting loose, the character of tin is in their element. One can reckon their whereabouts by their booming laughter. Dancing and gambling are other favourite pastimes.

Where you won’t find them is in any occupation requiring long-term physical or intellectual discipline. The character of tin doesn’t consider themself ill-disciplined, however – they are likely to make the argument that their passions are too powerful to be readily controlled. For this reason they don’t necessarily look up to the characters of higher elements.

Characters of tin often have some rudimentary musical skills. Although they don’t have the refinement of characters of copper or the brilliance of characters of mercury, they have no shortage of passion. Sometimes they make more noise than music. A charcter of tin, then, feels right at home behind a set of drums or fronting a punk rock band.

Perhaps the greatest motivation of the character of tin is the prospect of a good hard shag. Being slightly illuminated, they are full of both passion and the lust for pleasure. As such, characters of tin fill the bordellos of the world, both as customer and vendor. Their idea of heaven is a pub full of drunk, loose, big-titted women or horse-cocked men. Concerns about class don’t really come up – characters of tin are in it for a good time, not a long time. They like to say “any hole’s a goal”.

Characters of tin tend to be more forgiving and less petty than characters of lead, but they do have a pronounced dark side. Not being illuminated to the level of iron, they don’t have any true sense of honour. As such, they are still prone to petty hatreds, only they are more likely to backstab someone socially through gossip or rumourmongering than by doing it literally.

Being emotional, characters of tin are also prone to sullenness. If there is nothing interesting happening, or if they don’t get their way for some reason, characters of tin tend to sulk. They also yield easily, although they aren’t as flighty as the characters of lead.

Most usefully from a story-telling point of view, characters of tin are vulnerable to letting their passions get on top of them. This relates not so much to violence (this is more the problem of characters of iron) but to gluttony and licentiousness. Characters of tin are often drug addicts. Much like the characters of lead, they are not particularly good at long-term thinking. So there are many of them who are alcoholics or junkies.

Characters of tin are great fun to be around when times are good, but when times get tough they tend to disappear. A character of tin, then, is the archetypal “fairweather friend”. Lacking the displine of the higher elements, the character of tin tends to cut and run. They also like to bludge.

The character of tin tends to look down on the characters of lead on account of that the latter aren’t much fun. Characters of tin might not be particularly illuminated, but they are smart enough to know that people with no moral refinement tend to cause bad times to those around them. This prejudice towards the less enlightened is a feature of all of the levels between lead and gold.

Characters of tin don’t make sophisticated distinctions between the characters of the higher elements. Although they may have a wary respect for the characters of iron on account of their fighting ability, the characters of copper, silver, mercury and gold all tend to blend together as “rich people”.

Other characters tend to look down on the character of tin for being degenerate. Because the character of tin cares about little beyond the next good time, they’re usually the sort of person who can neither impose order upon the environment around them nor upon themselves. As such, they are often physically out of shape and poorly educated, and so are not afforded great respect.

An underappreciated ability of tin is its capacity for balance. Because tin is the centrepoint between lead and iron on the spectrum of base elements, it can serve as a mediator between the base feminine and the base masculine. As such, characters of tin can be skilled at sorting out petty disagreements, usually with an appeal to have a drink and forget about it all.

Characters of tin can also be lucky. The expression ‘tinny’, to denote someone lucky, has an alchemical origin. It’s related to the idea that a gusto for life attracts Fortune to one’s side. This sentiment is the basis for the amor fati that is the essential attitude of the characters of iron.


This article is from Viktor Hellman’s The Alchemy of Character Development, the sixth book in VJM Publishing’s Writing With Psychology series. This book will show you how to use alchemy to create deep, realistic and engaging characters for your creative fiction.


If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.


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