How to Develop Your Characters with the Myers-Briggs Typing Method

Bring Your Characters to Life

Developing characters can be one of the funnest tasks to do for your novel or short story, but it can also be a challenging one.

Some characters come to us already made, seemingly doing all the work for themselves and we just get to watch them unfold. Other characters aren’t so easy. We have to fight to find out who they are, what decisions they would make, and what their true motivation and goals are.

No matter how hard or easy this task is, the fact remains the same that we need to have a firm understanding of our characters to make them come alive on the page.

There are a whole lot of ways you can do this, and all writers have the method that works best for them. Today I will give you one to try.

A test

Quizzes are a fun way to get to know your characters, and for me the best one to use is the mother of them all, the Myers-Briggs personality test.

If you haven’t heard of it, the Myers-Briggs test is an extensive personality quiz that will place you into one of sixteen personalities they have typed in the world.

I like to use the free test on 16personalities.com which is drawn off the official Myers-Briggs test. What I love about this resource is that at the end of the test they give you an expansive description of the type you, or your character, tested to be.

The description pinpoints strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career paths, workplace habits, and more. It is a fantastic way to getting into the mind of your character.

Other benefits

Taking this quiz for your character may also show you that you don’t know enough about your character yet or that you are trying to stuff them in a box which is keeping them from revealing themselves.

If you answered the questions in the way you want your character to answer them, you may just find that either the character you want isn’t what you’re making, or that the character you want may not be the character you need in your story.

The least you will get out of this quiz is a new way of thinking about your character that can set you on a new path of creativity, and at the very best you will be reading your character outright on the page.

A word of caution

Even though I do recommend taking this quiz for your characters, I would also say that what will be written in these descriptions will not always be word for word your character.

They have sixteen personalities typed, but within those personalities there is natural and external differentiating factors at play. Two of the same type are not the same person. They all have different levels of traits that define them, and they all come from different backstories.

So if the description you got for your character doesn’t quite match up to who you know your character is, don’t worry about it. This is a test to help you get a little closer to discovering your character, and it is not a test that can comprehend the backstory affecting the person who takes it.

If it works for you, that is fabulous. If it does not, don’t sweat it. This is one of many ways of discovering who your characters are.

Take action

If you would like to know more you can read the explanation of the personality types here, and then take the test for your characters.

P.S. You may want to take the test for yourself first to get an idea of how it works, and you will also find out your type which is incredibly fun.

P.P.S. I’m INFJ. What are you?

Did you like this test as a character developing tool? Share in the comments. 

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