So as a writer, I’m always looking for new ideas to help me create characters that are interesting and have depth. I’ve seen a lot of creative tips on this subject, but there’s one thing that I don’t see very often. Something that can help your character development skill level up.
And that’s the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
If you’ve ever taken a psychology course, you’re probably very familiar with the Myers-Briggs test. In fact, you probably took one to determine your own personality type. However, if you’re not really sure what I’m talking about, this page here might be helpful. I’d try to give you an explanation myself, but seeing that I’m no psychologist, I probably shouldn’t try. I find the Myers-Briggs stuff fascinating, and I’ve done some of my own research on it, but I’m not an expert.
I am, however, an expert on my characters. So I thought it would be fun to try to figure out their personality types. If I could determine which of the 16 personality types each of my characters were, it could help me to know how they would react to certain situations, how they would see the world around them, what kinds of people they would want to hang out with, etc. And there is so much information about personality types online! For example, if you determined that your character’s personality type was INFP, and you wanted to know about INFPs and relationships, just type it in to Google, and you’ll get countless results. You do have to be careful though, because some things that you find might be purely opinionated and inaccurate. It’s always good to check multiple sources to see if information lines up.
For anyone wondering, my personality type is ESFJ. I haven’t taken the official Myers-Briggs test, but I have taken several different personality tests online and I’ve determined that I am an ESFJ. (Actually, in the middle of writing this post, I got distracted and took several different personality quizzes. I seem to be borderline ESFJ/ENFJ. I think it really depends on the day/situation/mood I’m in. Sometimes I am more intuitive than sensing, though I think in the end, ESFJ is most like me. K. End ramble.) One time I got ENTJ and I was like? That’s not me at all? I am definitely a feely person, not a thinky person, thank you very much.
ANYWHO. I digress. We’re here to talk about my characters, not me. So as I was saying, I attempted to figure out my characters’ personality types. I took my characters from my current WIP, Music’s Curse, and went through the 16 personality types to determine which one suited who. Using the page that I linked to above as a reference, I would put myself in a certain character’s shoes and ask, “Is he extroverted or introverted? Sensing or Intuitive? Does he focus on logic or feelings? Organized and decisive or spontaneous and adaptable?” That would then help me string together the four-lettered personality type that best suited that character. After I did that, I would go read the short description that went with the personality type I had chosen to see if I thought I had accurately chosen my character’s personality type.
And I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of myself. I think I nailed almost all of my characters’ types on the head. And because I am so pleased with myself, I want to share the results with you.
First off, we have the main character, Karina. Karina is an ISFJ. She’s quiet, loyal, cares about the feelings of others, and committed to her goals.
Next is Dryn, who is Karina’s love interest. I pegged Dryn as an ENFJ. He is very aware of how other people feel and wants to bring out the best in people.
And now we have the villain, whose name I’m going to keep a secret because I don’t want you to know who it is (you know, on the off-chance that my book will be published someday). I’m going to geek out a little bit more about his personality type because I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew in a heartbeat that he was an ESTP. Honestly. He is so ESTP it hurts. I apologize to all the E/ISTPs out there, but I just don’t get along great with those types. They’re too spontaneous and impulsive for me. Also, I get along much better with people who are “feely”, not “thinky”. Which is why I would get along horribly with my villain if he were real. Read the summary given for ESTP on the Myers-Briggs site that I linked to, except think, you know, evil while you read it. That’s it. That’s my villain right there.
Okay, so then we have Kristina, who is kind of a morally gray character and actually one of my favorite characters to write. Her personality type was a little harder to figure out, but I think I’ve decided she’s an ENTP. She’s very outspoken, flighty, and good at facing new challenges.
Then there’s Xavier, who’s very sweet and caring but also kind of miserable because he’s got a sucky love life. He’s definitely an ISFP.
Now we have Ava, who is Karina’s younger sister. I had some difficulty with Ava because…well, she’s only 10, and she’s cursed for basically the entire book (so she doesn’t really do much). However, Ava is going to be the main character for Music’s Curse sequel, and she’ll be older, so I decided to figure out her type based on how I imagine her when she’s older. I wanna say she’s an ENFP, since I imagine her as outgoing, imaginative, and spontaneous.
And last is Henrietta, who is Karina’s maid and friend. Henrietta is definitely a social creature and just really loves life, therefore, I’ve pegged her as an ESFP.
I’m not going to lie, I had a ton of fun doing this, and I feel like it really did help me discover my characters more. If you decide to try this little exercise on your own characters, go ahead and leave your results in the comments below. Also, feel free to tell me what your own Myers-Briggs personality type is! I’m curious. I’d love to know!
(P.S. I accidentally published this post first to my old blog, so I’m sorry if I confused anyone. I’m not used to publishing at a new site yet…)