Myers-Briggs + You = Characters // Soladicium Character Building

Right-o, so today I have for you a wonderful little blog chain/blog hoppity thing I created with my amazing NaNoWriMo cabin mates, Kate Jane @ Ravings of a Dead Poet and Dunelleth @ One Day More, featuring Elly @ Hufflepuff ThoughtsWe’re talking about character-building, and each of us is offering some advice on part of the process. So today I apparently have been given the honor of teaching you the art of character personality.

Character personality has been a source of trouble for me and for my writing for years. Yes, I knew my character’s hair color, eye color, and their height… but these things do not a character make.

The most common advice I get for building a character is filling out a character chart… but WHERE IS THE PERSONALITY HERE?!

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I for one, am a proponent of the fact that personality makes a character. Yes, Harry Potter has a lightning-shaped scar and is eleven to seventeen years old (depending where in the series you are)… but this doesn’t DEFINE HIM as a character. Would a character chart tell you that Harry values bravery above everything else? Would it tell you that he likes to take risks and play the hero? No, it wouldn’t.

Apparently, you’re supposed to know everything about your character: their clothing tastes, their response to every situation, and, most importantly, their favorite flavor of pie.

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In my definition, these things (especially pie preferences) all make up a small part of personality (or in pie preference’s case, a big one). BUT UM, you say, YOU HAVEN’T ACTUALLY TOLD US ANYTHING ABOUT PERSONALITY YET?? LIKE I AM STILL CONFUZZLED? And right you would be.

One trick I like to use when trying to determine my character’s personalities is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.

When you try to bond with your characters in your brain (or out loud, if that’s your preference), you tend to ask them questions you already know the answer to… which turns out to not be helpful to anyone, because you end up right back in the same place you started at. Instead, I like to try to use the Myers-Briggs Personality Tester to figure out their personality type. It forces you to confront situations you may not have thought about; but they are basic situations and preferences that you really do need to know the answer to.

I’ve been having a bit of blog block recently, so instead of charming you with my oh-so-eloquent words, we’re going to create a character together (personality-wise). Her name is Harper Connolly.

Harper Connolly is a ESFP.

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BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP ERROR ALERT BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP (pictured above: ME)

She is EXTROVERTED (45%), SENSING (16%), FEELING (28%), and PERCEIVING (38%).

  • She has a moderate preference of Extraversion over Introversion (45%)
  • She has a slight preference of Sensing over Intuition (16%)
  • She has a moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (28%)
  • She has a moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (38%)

Harper is quite different from most of my other characters, mostly in the fact that she is an EXTROVERT. An introvert myself, I often prefer to write, well, other introverts to obtain the greatest possible level of accuracy. As a general rule, the farther a character’s personality type is from yours, the harder it is to write them. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but it’s GENERAL. According to the same test, I am an INFJ/INFP (it changes every time I take the test, but for now I am Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging)… so I share only one quality with Harper (we’re both Feeling). Harper’s personality type is known as The Performer (extraverted sensing with introverted feeling), whereas I am known as The Protector (introverted intuition with extraverted feeling).

Since we only share one quality, it will generally be harder for me to write Harper, but that’s okay. I can still build her personality.

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Left to right: Harper Connolly, Me

To help put me in the mindset of an ESFP, I like to read the ESFP profile, especially the one on interpersonal relationships. While it’s superficial and generic, the ESFP profile helps me determine what kinds of people Harper might want to be around, how she views the world, and how she might react to certain situations. Of course, I’d never hold her to the ESFP profile; if she feels like she might want to become an actress instead of one of the suggested career routes, I’ll let her take it. If I’ve only got one character in my fictional universe, the ESFP profile can suggest people Harper might get along with or not get along with, making it easier to create background characters with personalities of their own. The profile tells me that the ESFP makes friends easily but will not go well with someone who has high intuitive or thinking profiles and will be closer to those with stronger feeling profiles. In terms of girlfriends/boyfriends, Harper will prefer ISTJs or ISFJs, as they share the same secondary “sensing” function as her.

And voilà! While Harper Connolly is certainly not yet close to being fully-fleshed out, I now have a base for her personality and lifestyle. She’s fun-loving, tends to eat and drink in excess, and likes change.

By figuring out her personality type, I have created a forum for myself, so that I can understand Harper’s generic preferences more easily.

When I’m stumped, I can now read up on the psychology of people like Harper and this will hopefully allow me to understand her more, however different I am from her.

And… that’s pretty much all I have to say. I mean, I’m an introvert! NAH, I’m just kidding! I love talking to you guys. ❤

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What methods do you use when determining a character’s personality, and how do you write characters which are very different from you? Also, because I am interested: what’s YOUR Myers-Briggs Personality Type?

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13 responses to “Myers-Briggs + You = Characters // Soladicium Character Building

  1. This is such a great idea! I’ve never thought of applying this test to characters before- I don’t even know what my personality type is classified as. I’ll have to take the test and find out! 🙂

    • Thanks so much! ❤ The one online is actually a little bit inaccurate. I'm taking Psychology in school (hence the lack of replies to comments; sorry!) and we had to take the MBTI on the first day of school. Apparently the more accurate test she gave me can't decide what I am. But I HAVE narrowed it down to INTJ/INTJ (I'm leaning towards INTJ). 😀

  2. I had someone on a plane try to give me an informal Myers-Briggs test. It was 8 a.m. after a 6 a.m. flight and he totally didn’t believe me when I said I was an extrovert. He was a character. I’m still cringing from that 8-hour flight haha.

    • Oh, wow! I know, sometimes the MBTI gives you such unexpected results! And sometimes it’s just wrong. But I guess I’ve never taken the official test? I always thought my mom was Introverted, but turns out she’s Extraverted/Ambiverted. And the test kept telling me I was “Sensing” when in reality the “Intuitive” profile matched mine much more closely (ISTJ as opposed to INTJ; I’m pretty sure I’m an INTJ).
      Sounds like quite an interesting flight!

  3. Love this post! What an awesome idea to apply a personality test to fictional characters…I wonder how many great, successful authors have thought them through, like that. I can definitely see J.K Rowling’s characters follow a “growth” curve along these lines.. Thanks for sharing!

  4. And here I thought using the Myers-Briggs personality test was such an original idea. JK. 🙂 I’ve always found the Myers-Briggs personality fascinating and I love taking personality quizzes, so it was no surprise when I started creating characters that I wanted them to take the test too. It really works a whole lot better than those questioner/character chart things.

    • Lol. 😀 I’ve actually started taking a psychology class in school (basically why I’m replying to this eleven days late) and it’s actually an inventory, which is why it’s way more accurate than a quiz. YES. EXACTLY. You understand me. Like, I’ve never gotten why I need to know their weight? Weight does not a character make. And I lied in the post; upon taking a more accurate MBTI (Myers-Briggs), I’m actually an INTJ. So apparently I’m much more think-y than what I originally got. 😀

      • I’m an INFJ. Only a letter different! It would be interesting to know which out of the 16 types are more likely to blog or like to write stories. There has to be a correlation.

  5. When I create a character, I’ll usually just have to, like, think everything over in my head before I do anything. I’ve tried character sheets but tiny details don’t work that well for me – I guess I find it easier to solidify my ideas first?
    HOWEVER! I do love taking Myers Briggs tests for my characters. Because I am always 100% focused and not taking quizzes. Nope, not me. XD I’m an INFP myself. 🙂

    • Yes me too. I find talking to them and placing them in situations and going “BOOP THERE YOU GO NOW RUN AROUND LIKE A HEADLESS CHICKEN AND LET ME OBSERVE YOUR BEHAVIOR” works much better. And YES. ‘Tis the best. I’m actually an INTJ! I took a more accurate MBTI in my psychology class in school. And it’s kind of scary how accurately it fits me. 😀

      Here’s what it says about INFPs on the official sheet my psychology teacher gave me (whether you wanted it or not, lol):
      “INTUITING FEELING TYPES: (NF) IDEAL SEEKERS
      NF’s are motivated by a need to understand themselves and others. They value authenticity and integrity and strive for an ideal world.
      INFP
      Devoted, compassionate, open-minded, and gentle. Dislikes rules, orders, schedules, and deadlines. Likes learning and being absorbed in own projects. Has passionate convictions, and drive for ideals. Sets high standards for self. Idealistic, sensitive, and creative. Can be reserved and contemplative.”
      According to the same book (I don’t know it’s name, sorry!), INFP’s make up 4.5% of males and 4.2% of females, and “learn to help understand themselves and others.”
      So basically you’re Officially A Very Nice Person Which Is Now A Fact Proved Via Science.

  6. Pingback: Soladicium Building Characters Blog Hop | Realistic Characters | A Hufflepuff's Thoughts·

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