By now you've probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as a tool for personality typing. Years ago, my school teacher mum was interested in it to help her understand the different behavior and needs of the children in her class. These days you'll often hear about it in relation to fictional characters. I've decided to use it in the development of the characters in my WIP.
As well as generating plausible and rounded characters, I think it's useful to spark ideas for conflict, plot and background stories. I'm going to run through the main ideas over the next few days, for those who might want to use this method. I didn't use it when writing the Scarabaeus series, whose evolution was a lot more (I hate this word...) organic, but I'll retrofit the MBTI for those characters as I go.
The MBTI is based on the Jungian approach and describes 4 pairs of traits. Everyone sits somewhere along a sliding scale of each pair, to generate unlimited subtleties in overall personality. Note that the official designations (e.g. "extrovert", "judging") for some of these traits may generate the wrong impression of what they actually mean - the words have special meanings here. You can type yourself fairly accurately just by choosing one option from each pair, Choose based on your preferences, not on whatever your job or lifestyle may impose on you.
Regarding your outer/inner world:
E - get energy from active involvement, excited around people, like to make things happen, a people person (Extrovert)
I - get energy from ideas, prefer doing things alone, reflect before acting, appear reflective and reserved (Introvert)
S - pay attention to information gathered through the senses, concerned with reality and facts, see the practical use of things, learn by hands-on experience (Sensing)
N - pay attention to the patterns and possibilities in information, learn by thinking through a problem, think on the future and possibilities, enjoy symbols and abstract theories (Intuition)
Regarding decision making:
T - analyze pros and cons then make logical decision, try to be impersonal, enjoy technical and scientific fields, want to be fair (Thinking)
F - weigh people's feelings and points of view before making a decision, try to maintain harmony, tact more important than cold truth, caring and tactful in relationships (Feeling)
Regarding your lifestyle structure:
J - like to have things decided, life appears planned and orderly, task-oriented (Judging)
P - like to leave options open, appear flexible and spontaneous, more playful (Perceiving)
Your type is described with four letters, e.g. ENTP, and there are 16 possible types. Here are descriptions of the 16 types from the Myers-Briggs Foundation. Tomorrow I'll start looking at the 16 types in relation to what kind of fictional characters they are useful for, and where my own characters fit in.