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.