How to Use Myers-Briggs Types to Create Characters

Saturday, May 25, 2019

We have all been there. You have a main character and a plot perfectly crafted and organized. You sit down to write your initial draft, and you realize your main character needs to have friends, mentors, family, and enemies with well-crafted personalities that leap from the page. You want to stay away from developing a flat character, but how do you do this quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to writing?

The answer to this scenario is to use Myers-Briggs personality types.

What are Myers-Briggs Personality Types?

Myers-Briggs theory was developed by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers adapted from Carl Jung stereotype theory. By using reference points to understand personalities, Myers-Briggs theory creates 16 unique personality types.

The reference points are based on what a person prefers to deal with. They are as follows:

  • People and things (Extraversion) or ideas and information (Introversion)
  • Facts and reality (Sensing) or possibilities and potential (IntuitioN)
  • Logic and truth (Thinking) or values and relationships (Feeling)
  • A lifestyle that is well-structured (Judgement) or one that goes with the flow (Perception)

In each reference point, you will prefer one over the other, creating your Myers-Briggs personality. If this is sounding familiar at all, it’s probably because your job or school has forced you to take one of these tests in order to find your “work style.”

The Sixteen Different Myers-Briggs Personalities

This is a broad overview of the sixteen different personalities. You can find more in-depth descriptions on the 16Personalities website here.

The Analysts

Architect (INTJ)

Imaginative and strategic thinker with a plan for everything. They have a natural thirst for knowledge. To architects, nothing is impossible with effort, intelligence, and consideration.

Logician (INTP)

Inventors with a thirst for knowledge. Their minds are constantly buzzing with ideas, leaving day to day chores not always complete. Logicians pride themselves on being unique and creative.

Commander (ENTJ)

Strong leader who will always find or make a way. They are naturally charismatic and confident. Commanders tend to keep their emotions hidden because they believe it is a display of weakness.

Debater (ENTP)

A smart and curious thinker who loves an intellectual challenge. They love to come up with big ideas, but loathe actually putting in the work to make their ideas come to life. Debaters hate when people aren’t direct with them.

The Diplomats

Advocate (INFJ)

Quiet and inspiring idealist. They have strong opinions and fight tirelessly for what they believe in. Advocates tend to focus on others, leaving them neglecting their own selves.

Mediator (INFP)

A kind and altruistic person who want to help a good cause. They are guided by their core principles farther than logic. Mediators are introverted, so they choose to focus on a few people to not spread themselves too thin.

Protagonist (ENFJ)

A charismatic leader who inspire their listeners. They are not afraid to stand up and speak about what they believe in. Protagonists have a genuine interest in other people’s problems, which can lead to them getting too involved.

(Fun fact; I’m actually a Protagonist!)

Campaigner (ENFP)

A creative, social person who is always finding a reason to smile. Their self-esteem is dependent on their ability to create solutions for problems. Campaigners are very in touch with their emotions and believe everyone should take the time to express their feelings.

The Sentinels

Logistician (ISTJ)

Reliable, practical, and fact-focused people. They enjoy taking responsibilities for their actions and take pride in what they do. Logisticians often forget to take care of themselves because of their dedication to other projects.

Defender (ISFJ)

Protectors who are always ready to defend their loved ones. They often underplay their accomplishments, leading others to take advantage of them. No matter what, defenders will always get the job done.

Executive (ESTJ)

A great administrator who’s talent lies in managing things and people. They value order and tradition which they use to bring people together. Executives despise laziness and cheating.

Consul (ESFJ)

Social butterfly that is extremely caring and always helping others. They assume the responsibility to help others and do the right thing. Consuls struggle with their sensitivity to others actions.

The Explorers

Virtuoso (ISTP)

Experimenters who master all types of tools. They enjoy improving things by taking items apart and putting them back together. Virtuoso’s are hard to predict due to their tendency to act impulsively.

Adventurer (ISFP)

An artist who is always ready to explore or try something new. They don’t enjoy traditional expectations, so they tend to experiment with convention. Adventurers struggle with criticism and can lose their tempers easily over it.

Entrepreneur (ESTP)

A smart and energetic person who likes to take lots of risks. They hate talking about doing things because they would rather just get out there and do it! Entrepreneurs take a lot of risks leaving mistakes wherever they go and choose to fix their mistakes along the way rather than planning ahead.

Entertainer (ESFP)

A spontaneous and energetic person who is never boring. They love the spotlight and have an eye for fashion. Entertainers focus so much on immediate gratification that they neglect their own responsibilities and focus on luck to get them out of a jam.

5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs Personalities to Build Characters

1. Figure out what your story needs

Is your story lacking a certain type of character? Maybe you want your main character to have an introverted friend that is fiercely protective? As you begin writing your novel, pinpoint areas where you think a certain type of character would fit best. Once you know what is missing, you can read through the different personalities and find one that suits your purpose. Model your new character after one of the Myers-Briggs personalities and you will quickly have a developed character ready to insert into your novel.

2. Take the quiz as your character

If you have a character already in mind, taking the Myers-Briggs personality as them can be incredibly helpful with making sure they are well-rounded. By knowing everything about your character’s personality type, you can easily visualize their quirks that make the character unique. Knowing how your characters will react in a situation or how they will interact with other characters makes the writing process easier. Since you know your character so well, you can put your main focus on the plot of your novel.

My favorite personality quiz for this exercise is the 16 personalities website.

3. Keep your characters in check

If you identify a character’s Myers-Briggs personality type, read the entire description of their personality. By doing this, you will know the ins and outs of your character, preventing “unicorn” moments. A “unicorn” moment is when a character does a complete 180 from their usual response. For example, if your character is an ENFJ (Protagonist) who struggles with making hard decisions, it would be out of character for them to randomly make a tough decision with no problem. By knowing your character is an ENFJ, you can make sure your character doesn’t have too many out of character moments, therefore keeping you, the writer, and your characters always in check.

4. Find the opposite personality of your main character

Most novels can use a good character foil. They create tension and also give an easy juxtaposition for your character. Since Myers-Briggs rely on reference points that are one or the other, you can easily pick the exact opposite of your character. By creating a character foil for the main character in your novel, you can highlight their traits to make them more rememberable.

5. Map out relationships

Each Myers-Briggs personality has a particular way they interact with other people. Where characters end up on certain reference points can greatly impact the way the characters reacts in relationships. By knowing how your character should react based on the personality types, you can map out relationship dynamics with little fuss.

In conclusion, creating characters can be daunting if a writer is not sure where to begin. By using Myers-Briggs personalities, writers can not only have a great starting point to develop a memorable character, but they can also have the luxury of knowing their character's personality well before drafting their novel. This leads to stress-free writing because you already know your characters so intimately.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful. An accompanying workbook for this post will be coming to my resource library soon. Happy writing!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I came across this article as I did the same thing to my 15+ characters in my novel. After my first draft I felt that all my characters sounded the same and they didn't have anything distinct about them. So when I did the 16 personality quiz more than 15 times, its now given my guidance on how to properly structure these characters, their interactions and plot. Thank you. I thought I was the only one who used this method.


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