Hey there! Welcome to part 2 of my MBTI mini-series!
Today we’ll pick up where we left off last week, explaining 4 more ways to use MBTI to develop better characters AND giving real-life examples*.
*meaning real-life examples from my fictional world—but the examples are real because a real author went through this—meaning me … got all that?
Let’s get right into it!
3: Discovering how they might relate to other characters
This is one of the main things I used MBTI for as an author from the very beginning. Way back when, I was working on a romance.
The problem was, it wasn’t a ship I’d planned from the beginning. It’d sorta just … come upon me. And suddenly, perhaps as suddenly as an Disney princess falls in love, I wanted them to be a couple.
Yet these two were already developed. “Set in their ways,” if you will. Would it work? Could it work? I wasn’t sure.
I didn’t want to get 50,000 words into a novel only to discover that the two main leads have absolutely no chemistry, and I didn’t know how to fix it. What to do?
Well, I knew these two characters’ personality types. My male lead was an ESFP. My female lead an INFP.
It was easy as a breeze to Google “ESFP and INFP romantic relationship.” Thousands of results popped up — and I was in business.
Of course, it couldn’t be easy. Though some sites felt the drastic differences between these two types could work, others shook their heads, said neither could ever truly be happy, and even insisted that one or the other of the types was toxic.
Okaaayyy then … so they have problems to work through? That’s okay. I do write women’s fiction, after all — this I can handle! The articles were helpful on figuring out what kind of conflict I would have and how they could potentially overcome it.
This can work in any situation — whether you’re figuring out how your villain just gets under your protagonist’s skin or how your awesome team of superheroes relate to each other!
4: Know how they’d react in varied situations
I brushed over this in the last post, but you can Google pretty much anything when it comes to MBTI — and what you can’t, you can surmise.
If all else fails, you can find a person with the personality type you need (online or in real life) and ask them!
A couple articles along that line (which I took from the site Personality Growth):
- The Different Levels of Stress for Each Myers-Briggs Type
- Here’s How You Handle Being a Sidekick, Based on Your Personality Type
- Here’s How Much of a Lone Wolf You Are, Based on Your Personality Type
- Here’s What to Gift Each Personality Type With For Mother’s Day
- Here’s How You Handle Feeling like a Burden, Based on Your Personality Type
(Note: none of the above articles were completely screened.)
Basically, there’s a lot out there, and it’s all very helpful.
Most recently I found myself searching for information on how INTJs act when they develop a crush but really don’t want to show it.
5: Find out exactly how to break them
*insert an evil author laugh*
But really. You can find out what bothers them. What their pet peeves probably will be. What matters most to them.
Actually, if you’re willing to have a weird search history, you can find articles like this one: How to Destroy an INTP or ISTP. (If you ever want to write about an INTP or ISTP, I 100% recommend this article, and I believe there is a series about other types on this site, as well.)
Of course, even within the types, this will vary from character to character, person to person. Still, it gives you some good guidelines for making your character’s breakdown, backstory, or whatever the case is more realistic.
Besides, you want to know what will scare your characters so you emotional stakes can be realistic! You have to know what they don’t want you to do to them so you can threaten them with that and make the story more personal!
Call me sadistic, but all the best novels feature characters pushed to their limits. Push yours! And push them personally.
6: Creating a varied cast
One thing I heard from a lot of you when we were first discussing characters was, “I tend to write characters just like myself” or “All of them act the same/don’t seem unique.”
Ladies and gentlemen, here is your solution!
Don’t make your characters all the same type. Don’t even make them all similar types! Have a mix of thinkers and feelers, introverts and extroverts, judgers and perceivers, and intuitives and sensors.
In Ivy Introspective, my recent release, my cast is:
Ivy – INFP
Alice – ENTJ
Nettie – ISFP
Claire – INTJ
Philip – ESFJ
Steven – ESTP
Lois – ENFP
Nora – ISFJ
Charlie – INTJ
Jordy – ESFP
Violet – INTP
Callum – INFJ (though I’m especially not sure about this)
Emma – ENTJ
Not all of these are set in stone. However, it’s still great for me to be able to look at them all in a list and see where I might be missing a bit of sensor-ness or where I’ve turned the introversion up too high!
And that’s it for today! I’ll have the next 4 tips up next week, but until then, keep writing!
Thanks & have a splendiferous day, writers!
Reveries Co. Manager