Personality Types for Characters

Hello, wonderful SEers! Mae here with one of my favorite topics—personalities.

Some months ago I shared a post about using the Myers Brigg Type Indicator to determine your personality type. That post generated great discussion and seemed to be fun for everyone.

Genealogical tree on old paper background. Family tree in vintageI’m currently in the process of starting the second book in my newest series, and that involves devoting serious insight to my two main characters. Both played a smaller role in the first novel, Cusp of Night (shameless plug: coming June 12, 2018). 🙂

I know a bit about each character thanks to that introduction, but because they had minor roles, I hadn’t thoroughly examined what makes them tick. I know some background information on each, even detailed family genealogy, but the shift from B-players to A-players has me wanting to know more. Sure, I know what roles they’re going to play in the new novel, End of Day, but I want to delve into their heads.

I decided to run both through the MBTI test. If you’re unfamiliar with Myers Brigg, you may want to read my original post here. Should you wish to take the official instrument, you can do that for a fee at the MBTI site (no affiliation to me or Story Empire) and garner extremely detailed feedback.

For this post, however, I’m going to use the same site I used before. It gives you the opportunity to take a free personality test, and uses the same sixteen personality types as Myers Brigg. Because it also gives extensive information, I found it informative and fun for my two lead characters.

Jillian turned out to be an INFJ-T THE ADVOCATE. That didn’t surprise me, given what I know about her. Some key descriptions for this personality type are: quietly intense, sensitive, persevering, insightful.

Jillian’s personality breaks down like this:
93%   Introverted
63%   Intuitive
100% Feeling
56%  Judging
79%  Turbulent

As her author, I already know the reasons behind this breakdown, especially for her results under introverted, intuitive, and judging. Some of the questions posed by the test, however, gave me pause. As an example, this one made me rethink Jillian’s answer:

“You enjoy going to social events that involve dress-up or role play activities.”

Close-up portrait of a beautiful woman in venetian mask. Carnival, masquerade. Jewellery, gems.

The normal answer for an introvert would be no, but there is a reason Jillian is so introverted, and in many ways I see her enjoying masquerade or costume parties. That anonymity would allow her to become someone else, empowering her to behave differently. Much like hiding behind a mask. That was something I hadn’t even considered, but am now planning to spin into a plot thread.

Moving onto Dante, his results pegged him as ENTP-A THE DEBATOR, also not too shocking given the role he plays in book one, Cusp of Night. Some key descriptions for this personality type are: quick thinking, charismatic, complex, energetic, inventive.

Dante’s personality breaks down like this:
89%   Extroverted
77%   Intuitive
81%   Thinking
74%   Prospecting
71%   Assertive

Some of these results surprised me. I expected Dante to rate higher on the assertive meter and less on the intuitive scale.  Interesting that they’re almost in balance. Even more surprising, he ranks higher than Jillian on the intuitive meter. As Dante’s author, I understand the reason, but seeing the results presented this way gives me a better understanding of how I want to write him. There’s a lot I can do with that intuitive result, not only as Dante sees himself but as others see him.

I’m not suggesting you run all your characters through a personality test, but it can be an enlightening experience for your primary characters. It forces you to think like them in a variety of situations.

Handwritten text What's Your Story ? in notebook with fountain pen beside notebook

Use the free personality test here. When you get your results, be sure to look at the right hand column under Explore Your Type and click on each of the links. The main screen gives you an overview of the personality type, but the links will lead you to information on strengths and weakness for that type, how they approach friendships, romantic relationships, career paths, and more.

You might also want to examine a one paragraph breakdown of MBTI personality types here. For quick reference, you can also hover over the personality type here. Scroll to the middle of the page for a pop-up providing one-word descriptions. I used all three links for a strong grasp of Jillian and Dante.

If you’ve never taken the test yourself, by all means, give it a try. It’s highly accurate and extremely insightful. As for characters, I’m going to match an INFJ Advocate with an ENTP Debator in End of Day. It should be interesting.

I’d love to hear what some of your character personality types are, or even your thoughts on types in general, and if you’ve ever consciously used them in your fiction. Do you think this would be something you’d try? Would you find it helpful? Let’s chat!

Bio banner for author Mae Clair

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59 thoughts on “Personality Types for Characters

  1. A very unique idea, Mae, to let you characters undergo a personality test. I underwent one myself once and they said I was very volatile and could lead people off a cliff (like lemmings). Those comments always stayed with me and perhaps I will incorporate these personality traits into a book one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s quite an interesting personality profile, Robbie. Have you tried taking the personality test from the link above? It would be interesting to see the results you get and whether they match up with your previous results. Either way, it sounds like you could create an intriguing character with those traits.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous idea Mae, using these methods to flesh out your characters. I just did the test and reconfirmed the one I did months ago says I’m a Protagonist -ENFJ, up there with Oprah and Obama, woohoo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Writing Links 1/22/18 – Where Genres Collide

  4. I love these personality tests, if only for the curiousity. I’ve never thought about doing them for characters–that’s a great idea, Mae! And secondary characters moving into primary characters in book 2, huh? Sounds familiar (worked well for PP series 😀 ) Can’t wait until the release!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m following the same type of path with the Hode’s Hill series that I did with PP, Julie. The need to flesh out my secondary characters got me thinking of running them through a personality test. Not only did I get great insight about them, but the results also generated some new plot threads. It was fun too 🙂

      Glad you’re looking forward to the new release. The series is really shaping up nicely!

      Like

  5. I’ve never thought to do this with my characters. What a great idea! I think it could be particularly helpful for my main character, but I can see where it would be good for minor characters too. Would help me stay consistent with them throughout the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found it especially helpful taking secondary characters to the primary roles. It helped me flesh them out a bit more and examine what makes them tick. I’m glad you you enjoyed the post, Carrie. Have fun experimenting!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacquie, that’s fabulous you’ve taken a course on the subject. I just looked up Laurie Schnebly and she certainly has some interesting topics. Have fun running your characters through the personality and MBTI generators 🙂
      And thanks for the comment luv on my upcoming books. Starting a new series is both exciting and scary 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It seems my laptop deleted part of my comment…
      I was saying that the description on the site you suggest is quite fitting with my personality. I got through the test for my two main characters in my current WIP. Lorelai is a Defender, while Jason is a Commander. It seems I gave them the right traits for their role in the story even before knowing their personality.
      I love the free test, it’s really accurate.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s great that you’re experimenting with your characters and the test. I think it’s loads of fun. And how great that you pegged them correctly.
        I too think the test is highly accurate, and I’m always drawn to anything that involves personality types.
        Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts and shares, Irene!

        Like

  6. I use a character wheel to develop my characters, never tried the personality test. I did try to use enneagrams once, though. The wheels helped me think of lots more ideas, though, instead of casting my characters as “types.” I can see where making your characters answer personality questions would make ideas flow, though. Really enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A character wheel? Judi, I’ve never heard that before. I have a story wheel that I sometimes use for creative exercises. I wonder if it works on the same principal. You have me intrigued. I’m going to have to see what I can see online.

      The questions were great in forcing me to step into my characters shoes and think as they would. Plus, it was just plain fun too. I’ve always been intrigued by personality types and what makes them tick.

      Thanks for sharing today, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The wheel is just a one-stop visual that helps me develop each character and “see” them better. I start with a small circle in the center of a piece of paper that lists their name, age, nickname, and what they look like. I draw 7 “spokes” off of the circle. The first one I fill out is family–parents and siblings and important relatives and how the character gets along with them. Are they close? Do they bicker? Do they compete? etc. Spoke 2 = education, training, any mentors. Did he like school? Not? Why? Spoke 3 is where he lives & the vehicle he drives and what they say about him. Spoke 4 = romances/relationships. When? Why did they end? Spoke 5 = close friends. A reflector, someone he can talk to. Are they alike? Different? Spoke 6 = Quirks–likes, dislikes, habits, fears, hobbies. Spoke 7 = Enemies/Antagonists. Who doesn’t he get along with? Gets in his way? An opponent? Once I fill out every spoke on the wheel, I ask What kind of person is X? Why? What made him that way? What does he want? Why? Shirley Jump taught the wheel.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Judi, this is fabulous. I do something similar, though not as detailed and not in a wheel format. I may give this a try as I develop more characters for End of Day. Thanks so much for sharing. Great information!

        Like

  7. I’ve never actually tested any of my characters, but it would be fun to do. I think it’s really cool that your results surprised you and helped you develop new threads, so clearly it’s both fascinating and productive.

    As for Dante, I totally see the intuitive trait in him. (Sorry, everyone; I’ve read an advance copy. And I HIGHLY recommend Cusp of Night when it releases.) I think of all artists as intuitive. I can’t wait to see what you do with the masquerade-type angle for Jillian.

    This is all very thought-provoking. Great post, Mae.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Mae! I sketched my main characters from their childhoods to their current ages before I wrote the story. Now, I may try the MBTI for the next book. It could really help develop the secondary characters that readers wanted to know more about. Thanks for this idea.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Linda, that explains why your characters in The Neon Houses were so fully developed. After reading your book, I felt like I knew them. I thought even your secondary characters had a lot of depth. I’m looking forward to book two. If you do use MBTI, I hope you have a lot of fun with it. Some of the questions that are posed, made me really rethink things and step into my character’s shoes.

      Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts!

      Like

    • I liked using the MBTI to learn more about characters who were originally secondary characters and were suddenly thrust into the limelight. It helped me to analyze them a bit better, and was kind of fun in the process, LOL.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Like

  9. I haven’t done this, but it sounds like a fun exercise. This may be hard to believe, but my characters reveal themselves on the page. My storyboards start out as a series of events to check off. The characters just react to the situations as they go along that path. Now I want to push Clovis and Hat through the MBTI.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mine tend develop too as I write (sometimes changing from my initial concept). The MBTI is great when you want to take a secondary character who you really hadn’t fleshed out to the next level. It’s also fun to run MC’s through it as well and see if they play out the way you thought they would. Clovis would be a great one to run through MBTI. Lisa too. I have a feeling her answers would require some thought and end up being a bit complex. That could even be a fun blog post.

      Hmm…I think I just might do that with my leads from Point Pleasant 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This is a fun and informative post, Mae. Way to go in researching your characters! I don’t use a tool like the personality tests (or haven’t as yet), but I do use my background (psychiatry and buddhism!) to inform me as well as observation of folks I meet and know. One of my favourite T-shirt logos is: Keep Talking … I’m analysing you! He he he 🙂

    Pressed This on: http://harmonykent.co.uk/personality-types-for-characters/

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think however you get into the heads of your characters, it’s great to examine what makes them tick. The personality test linked above prompts you with questions and forces you to think like your character. I never really tried to answer as a character before, so it was an enlightening experience.

      I love the line about analyzing. Sometimes I do that without even being aware I’m doing it, LOL.
      And thanks for sharing the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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