Just last week I took a personality test in connection with my day job. The test was given on the front end of a day-long seminar hosted by an outside corporate coach. There were four main types (the boss, socialite, stable/conservative/easy going, task orientated/ picky/analytical). It was fascinating to see the results of my co-workers and how similar they were to their actual personalities. Knowing which combination you were, the coach would then guess at the type of car you drive, what you would do on your vacation, how you arrive at certain decisions, who you were compatible with, how you prefer to structure your day, etc.
It was incredible. But where the rubber met the road was how you could apply this knowledge to your daily work situation. Of course, I began to think about the possibilities this would have for my writing. Understanding which personality combinations were not compatible with each other, I could create characters that weren’t compatible with other characters in order to build more tension and conflict. This information was very useful.
A couple years back I had bought the book titled Type Talk by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen on recommendation by Angela Hunt. The book broke down the 16 personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It gave fantastic detail as to how certain personality types would react to certain situations and how they would relate to others (particularly in the parent/child and husband/wife areas). I’ll now assign one of the sixteen to each of my characters. I would highly recommend this book as a starter.
If I can really understand my characters, I’ll be in a better position to make them more distinct and believable. I find it more fun too. Kicking around personality types can be very revealing. But that is a double-edged sword. You may end up arguing with your spouse about who you really are and which type you fit into. Worse yet, you might discover that your spouse knows you better than you know yourself!
One page at a time,