Heyyo! Here we are, folks — at the last blog post in the MBTI mini series. I’ve got 4 more points for you, and then I’ll let you go back to your daily lives.
Let’s start before I forget what I was doing and get lost in a staring contest with my betta fish. (His name is Wade.)
7: Know who your character resembles in reality and other fiction
Run over to Google and look up “[personality type] characters and celebrities.” I bet you’ll come up with pages and pages of info!
Fun, huh? If you have an ENFP character, they’d be in league with people like Charles Dickens, Jerry Seinfeld, and Walt Disney! (See this list for the rest.)
How is this useful, though? I can see your skeptical looks. “I don’t care if my character is like writers and comedians and Amazing Human Beings. I just want to develop them! Have you forgotten what the series is about, Kell!?”
Hold your horses, intrepid writer! We’re getting there.
8: Removes the temptation to “typecast”
The dashing hero. The maiden in the tower. The evil villain. The wise (pretty much dead) mentor. The misunderstood genius.
Typecasting is another word for relying on stereotypes and archetypes for your characters — and it’s not good (unless you can twist that cliche in a fun new way!).
These are also known as “stock characters” — and to quote Wikipedia, they’re “a dramatic or literary character representing a generic type in a conventional, simplified manner and recurring in many fictional works.”
(see this list of “stock characters” on Wikipedia for more info)
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of using “stock characters” because we’ve seen them over and over again, so often that we might not even notice them anymore.
Using MBTI helps you avoid these stereotypes. It makes you really think about the characters, think about their reasons for being what they’re like, and forces you to give them a dimension beyond “crazy cat lady” or “mean popular girl.”
9: Easy to discover the “loveable” bits of your character
Okay, I’m probably the only one, but … when I was first writing, my characters were almost never likable.
Though “Mary Sues” (e.g. perfect characters) are more popular, I’ve worked with the occasional student who makes their character too flawed, too nasty, and doesn’t bother to show the reader those loveable bits.
This was my problem as a young writer. I’d make them real, all right. Real and gritty and nasty. But I’d forget to give them the necessary redeeming qualities to make the reader really like them!
MBTI is an overall positive system that allows you to easily see what things you could come to like about every type.
Also, clearly explaining their thoughts (which MBTI can help you do) will go a long way toward making your character someone the reader can root for!
10: Gives you a basis in reality to work from
Let’s have a real talk: we’re working with fictional characters. Though we’d like to meet them — give them a hug or a yelling at — they don’t exist.
Our most vital job as a writer is to convince the reader that the character is real, that he or she really exists, and that the reader needs to root for them.
Honestly, we’re none of us God. We can’t create something from nothing, and our imagination can only take us so far. In fact, our imagination often leads us astray, creating a person who could only exist in our minds.
MBTI can give you that basis in reality. This is the easiest way to make your characters seem real because you will basing them on the way real people react rather than trying to come up with a formed human being from scratch.
If that doesn’t convince you to use this system, I don’t know what will!
Next time we’ll be talking about creating strong goals and motivations for your characters. Until then, write on, writers!
Thanks & have a splendiferous day, writers!
Reveries Co. Manager