Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Testing Your Characters: With the Myers Briggs Test


Photo by Brett Jordan licensed under Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 Generic.
I have always loved personality tests. When I was younger, all I could find were those multiple choice quizzes in pop magazines, the ones that discovered deep secrets about you depending on if you selected all a's or all c's. I was always a “c” girl. But most of the topics of these quizzes weren't particularly interesting. I already knew I'm a bad kisser, and I was somewhat skeptical when I was told that my favorite date would be a romantic candlelit outing to an amusement park.

Luckily, when I was slightly older, I discovered the Myers Briggs test, which is like the mother load of personality tests, or possibly just a visit to one of my more clairvoyant Slovak relatives. This week, I started thinking about it again when I ran across some Myers Briggs posters that compare the personalities to characters in favorite shows/books like Firefly, Harry Potter and Dr. Who. I found these to be particularly accurate as I've always felt an affinity to River Tam and Professor Lupin anyways. So that got me thinking. Would Myers Briggs be useful for characters in stories?

I decided to try it out with the current WIP I'm working on. I didn't think it would be a good idea to take the test for every one of my main characters. Instead, I tried to look at each component and decide where my character would fall. Below are the steps I followed, in case anyone is interested in trying it out themselves. I can say I feel like it gave me a new perspective to view my characters.

  1. I looked at the wikipedia article on Myers Briggs, sliding down to the explanation of Introverted/Extraverted, Intuitive/Sensing, Feeling/ Thinking , Judging/Perceiving 
  2. For each character, I looked at the description and thought what my gut said about how they would react. (Can you tell I'm an Intuitive thinker?)
  3. For example, one of my characters, Anya, is a very quiet, logical thinker, highly observant and a good problem solver. Looking at each trait, I decided she must be an ISTJ, an Introverted, Sensory, Thinking Judger, or as this personality is traditionally given the name, “The Inspector.” I liked the names that come along with the results, it's almost like I'm setting up a game of Dungeons and Dragons and not a middle grade novel. Not that I would know about such things, other than what my parents told me and I learned from the Greenglass House by Kate Milford. One of my other characters, Isabel, is energetic, idealistic, and eager to help. For her, I ended up with ENFP, “The Champion” almost an opposite of Anya's personality, which is true from what I've written about them.
  1. You can find descriptions of each combination online. I like this site. Reading the descriptions, it made me think about my characters in new ways. I hadn't thought before about how Anya would probably want things in an organized manner, or Isabel might always try to reassure people rather then tell them the truth outright.


If you try this out, I'd love to hear about your results or anything new you learned about your character in the comments section!  

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