December 10, 2015 by philipbullitthughes
When I first began writing my novel, Miraclist, two questions arose: what would the plot be, and what would the character’s personalities be like? This seems to be every author’s battle. How do we keep our characters consistent? I want my character to grow. So does that mean their
The problem with most books is that the protagonist’s personality ebbs and flows. The author thinks, “Well, I want her to change here due to this traumatic experience, so let’s make her turn from being a peppy extroverted feeler into a brooding introverted thinker.”
This line of thinking is a common pitfall.
While personalities definitely can change and develop over time, the core of a human being’s type actually never does. An ENFP will never become an ISTJ. That is not to say an ENFP cannot develop and explore his or her Introverted or Judging side. Absolutely they can. This just usually takes practice while ENFP remains their natural preference. I know this begs the question to those folks out there who get different answers each time they take the test. Typically, this has to do with one of three things: ambiversion (literally being in the middle of a type, which can happen, albeit rarely,) that they answered the test for what they want to be rather than what they are, or that they do not yet know themselves well enough to answer the questions on the test appropriately (which can take some time to figure out for all of us, including myself.)
That said, it is important to write a character based on a personality type. So I asked myself, “What would an ENFP do if a traumatic experience happened to them? How would they evolve?” and “If an INTJ were unhealthy at the beginning of the novel, and healthy at the end, what would that look like?”
I’ve found that the reader feels a sense of realism around a character from beginning to end if a personality is prescribed each character and strictly adhered to. Otherwise, there is a perpetual feeling of distance and dissonance with the characters. Also, as an author, it becomes so much easier to follow the framework of a character rather than constantly wondering how they might behave.
So, for those of you aspiring to be authors, I would highly suggest the MBTI being your framework for every character you write. Pick a type and stick with it. Ask yourself, “What would an ESFJ villain look like?” not simply, “What does a villain look like?” Otherwise, we get stuck with solely INTJ bad guys (just kidding, but really,) and never would end up with the Dolores Umbridges—the epitome of what I believe to be an ESFJ villain.
Keeping these things in mind, my fantasy novel, Miraclist (shameless plug,) was written with each personality type in mind. If you get a chance to crack it open, please let me know if you can guess what the types might be. Try to find your own type in the characters, as I attempted to make it rich in personality variety.
Lastly, thank you for all of you who supported me and my humble little personality blog throughout the years. It has been quite the journey, and none of it would be possible without your continued interest and engagement. If you’d like to support me further, please do check out Miraclist on Amazon Kindle.