Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test? Have you taken it? Did you read the description and think, “That’s creepy, it’s like it knows me?” It separates people into 16 personality types and while it obviously can’t account for all of the nuances of personality, it’s a hell of a lot more accurate and a better indicator of personality than your sign.
So when you’re developing your characters, obviously they have a birthday and a sign, but what’s their personality type? I’m not recommending you develop your characters to specifically fit the description of a type, but decide what type of person your character already is in your mind and take the Myers Briggs as that character.
This won’t tell you anything about your character you don’t already know, but it will help you focus on what your character would do in specific situations, give you hints about what details you can put in about your character that you might not have thought of and round the character out. Stuff like she likes to sing Karaoke but is anxious trying to talk to new people in big parties, he’s a detail oriented perfectionist but can never seem to be on time, or she is logical and can’t understand why humans have the emotions they do but is so perceptive she can tell what people are feeling and wants to know why.
Details are what bring a character to life, what makes them real and jump off the page. And you don’t want these details to be something you’re obviously telling the reader, you want them to be incorporated into whatever the character is doing so you can show the reader, and this is what makes characters alive. He’s a man-whore but a mama’s boy, she had a loving family and a stereotypical suburban childhood but doesn’t trust people easily.
This could also be something you use as a pick-up line when characters are meeting instead of the dead ten times over and long past buried, “What’s your sign?” If of course, the character is one who would know about this test and be dorky or clever enough to bring it up. (As a personal aside, a few years ago a guy picked me up at Starbucks with this as part of the pick-up conversation. We were both INTJ’s and the conversation flew from there. It takes a very specific type of social awkward and way too confident about it person to get away with this pick-up line, which is why it worked between two INTJs.)
Assignment: Pick your favorite character, go to The Test and, without reading the types first!, answer the questions as that character would. See what they get, read through it to see if it really does fit your idea of your character (if not, maybe try again with some different answers or reconsider what your character might be like).
Tell us in a post on your site and then share here or just answer on here in the comments what the character got, and write either a bio of the character’s personality or a scene that shows some personality point you got for your character from the test. And feel free to add questions for the others to answer.
(I’m rewriting my first book and will be doing this for the MCs in that, along with yesterday’s Plot Fixer, and my next post’s Character Fixer.)