Using Myers/Briggs to Create Characters

by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

When I first started writing, I filled out a lonnnng character chart that listed everything from my characters’ looks to what they preferred for breakfast. But at some point, I realized all that information wasn’t helping me to know my character better. So I backed up and looked for other ways to get to know them. That’s when I found the Myers-Briggs personality charts.

According to Myers-Briggs, there are sixteen personality types. You can check out their website here. So now, when I create a character, I come up with a name and an identity – how the how the character sees himself—based on their personality type.

ISTJ, ESTP, ENFP, INFJ…all those letters can be confusing, so let’s look at what the letters mean:

The E and I have to do with their world:

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world (E), or on your own inner world (I)? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

The S and N relates to how the character takes in information:

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in (S) or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning(N)? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

The T and F deals with decisions:

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency (T) or first look at the people and special circumstances (F)? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

The J and P reflects how you deal with the outside world:

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided (J), or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options (P)? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

And you’re thinking, well, all of that is nice, but give me some examples.

Okay. Let’s say you have an ISTJ. What does that mean? First of all, your character is an Introvert who is serious and dependable. Realistic. Responsible. He looks at things logically before making a decision. She likes order and values loyalty and traditions. Would want to see all sides of a problem before jumping in. Actually, jumping in is not a good descriptor for an ISTJ.

This type character would make a good detective, lawyer, or executive. You can check out a longer list here. He probably wouldn’t be very spontaneous and hop on a plane to Hawaii on a whim. But she would always be there for her friends.

And what type dates would an ISTJ enjoy? Why, an evening of reading and sharing about a book, or listening to quiet music, surfing Wikipedia, taking a leisurely stroll in a park.

Let’s say your ISTJ is a police detective. Who would you pair him with? Since you want conflict, how about an ESTP? An ESTP is outgoing, flexible, wants immediate results. Theories bore her. She wants the here and now, and would happily hop on a plane to anywhere, anytime.

Careers for an ESTP? A farmer or rancher, or landscape architect, a photographer, a bartender anything involving people…check out a longer list here. And what kind of activities would interest an ESTP? Movies, music festivals, backpacking, and hiking, riding a dirt bike or a motorcycle.

Do you see the potential for conflict?This is just one example of how you can use Myers-Briggs personalities to help you with your characters. Play around with your characters, find a particular Myerys-Briggs personality that fits a character, and then have fun making their life complicated!

Happy writing!


Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

 

Whose Story Is It, Anyway?

by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

I’m one of those who are quick to hand out advice. I can see some of you nodding your head now. But guess what? Sometimes I’m wrong. Well, once anyway. It’s on the refrigerator—that one time I was wrong.

Seriously though, I think sometimes we are quick to try and fix a problem when there’s not really a problem at all. Case in point. A friend was working on her novel, and we were brainstorming. I wasn’t all that familiar with her story, but when she told me her hero died, I cried, “No, you can’t do that.”

Her shoulders dropped a notch or two. “But…but that’s the way it has to be for the next story.”

I was adamant. “You can’t kill the hero. Nobody will buy your book.”

We discussed it back and forth for a bit, and I could tell I had shaken her confidence. Since that day, I’ve done a lot of thinking. Conclusion? I had no right to tell her how to write her novel. Even though I’ve always believed that a romance must end with “and they lived happily ever after”, or at least have the promise of a HEA, I am not an expert.

Nicolas Sparks writes romance and in many of his books, the hero or heroine dies. And he’s made a pretty decent living off his stories. And besides, my friend’s novel wasn’t exactly a romance, but closer to women’s fiction. But even if it had been a straight-out romance, I still should have kept my mouth shut.

My friend did not ask my advice about her hero. She knew how she wanted to write her story—it wasn’t my story—and I made her doubt her writing ability. That was a grievous error.

Now a word to all who have been on the receiving end of advice: don’t let someone else tell you how to write your story. I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider what a critique partner says, but unless three or four of them say the same thing, don’t be pressured into changing it. We all have our own stories to write in the way only we can write them.

I’ve learned something else from this. Don’t be too quick to hand out advice or you might have to write a blog apologizing for being wrong.


Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

How Well Do You Know Your Antagonist?

by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

I started a new book the first of September. I thought I was ready. I’d been thinking about the characters, the setting, and thought I knew what would drive the story.

I wrote a thousand words and hit a wall.

That’s never happened to me before. I usually can get at least thirty thousand words before I hit the wall. Then I realized I had not nailed my back-stories down, especially my antagonist’s. I really thought my antagonist would reveal herself to me as I wrote the story. But without knowing her back-story, I couldn’t move forward.

So I opened a new folder in Scrivener titled Backstory and created a file for my antagonist. Then, I decided I better make one for all of my characters.

Beside each character’s name I put:

  1. Problem or goal.
  2. What happened to my characters in the past that makes them who they are when the story opens?
  3. What is my character’s greatest desire?
  4. Greatest fear?
  5. What are the stakes if the character doesn’t reach their goal?
  6. What is this character doing six weeks before the story begins? Two weeks? The day it begins.

This is especially important for the antagonist in the story. Why? The antagonist drives the story and ups the stakes. He acts (keeping the hero from reaching his goal), and the hero reacts.

Speaking of heroes—your antagonists is the hero of her own story, so keep that in mind when answering the six questions above. You don’t have to agree with what she does, but you must get inside her head.

Also, the stakes must be high, and even if your story isn’t a crime story, the stakes must involve some type of death—physical, emotional, or professional. So make sure your antagonist is going for the jugular in one of these areas.

I write romantic suspense, so I have to discover why my villain would lie, steal, cheat, or kill to get what she wants. In romance or women’s fiction, the antagonist might not physically kill anyone, but they should be trying to destroy the hero’s professional or emotional life.

While I don’t know everything about my antagonist, I have a good feel for her and the story is moving forward. I have every confidence she will reveal things I don’t know as the story progresses. She might even turn out to be a he, because even though I always know how the story ends, I don’t always know the true villain.

TWEETABLES

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Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.  

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

What’s on Your Bucket List?

by Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

I started my bucket list when I was thirty-five. I wanted to write and eventually get published. If I had known it would take 33 years, would I have pursued my dream?

I think so, because I don’t think I had a choice. I may have been thirty-five when I realized I was born to write, but once I knew it, nothing could stop me. I think most writers are that way.

Some writers take even longer to realize it than I did. Often they think they’re too old to start a new career.

Is there an age limit to what we can do?

…Bear with me a minute—I’m thinking. Part of me wants to say NO! But then I think about how I used to climb trees, and while in my mind, I think I could still do it, I’m not sure I want to, unless there’s a bear chasing me.

Physically, we might get to a place in our lives where we can’t do what we once did, but there are so many other things we can do. One year at Christmas my mother learned to text. She was ninety. She had a Facebook page when she passed away at ninety-three. She always wanted to be challenged and so do I. That’s the key, I think. The desire to stretch ourselves.

I hear it now. But how would I start?

That’s the easy part. Be it writing a book or learning how to use a computer. Take a class. Did you know after age sixty, about 60% of accredited colleges offer a waiver for senior students? And at most colleges you can audit a class for free. Check it out here and here. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to learn the nuts and bolts of how to do it.

I believed God called me to write, and not just any old story, but suspense stories. Except I wasn’t having any luck with them. I was sixty-five when I went to my first writing retreat, Deep Thinkers taught by our own Susan May Warren. I had been writing for almost thirty years with success in writing short pieces but had not gotten any results from my novels. I was making the same mistakes over and over because I didn’t have anyone to tell me what I was doing wrong…or right.

But at the retreat I learned so much and continued to return each year for four years total. After the third year, I got an agent and a publisher and sold my first book. Shadows of the Past was published one week after I turned 69.

So, you can do it! But you need a desire as well as discipline to do what it takes to learn the craft of writing…and then, you’ll be ready when God opens the door.

I’ve completed one series—The Logan Point Series, written two Heartwarming books for Harlequin, and completed three books in my next series, Memphis Cold Case Novels. All since 2013. If I can do it, so can you!

By the way, Justice Buried, the second Memphis Cold Case novel releases tomorrow!

TWEETABLES

What’s on Your #BucketList? by @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqjm77

Is writing on your bucket list?~ @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqjm77

When do you decide to throw in the towel?~ @PTBradley1 on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqjm77

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Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.