A cheat for fiction writers: help with creating three dimensional characters

I want to tell you about a great website I’ve found called https://www.16personalities.com/ that’s really useful when you’re creating characters in your writing.

Although the purpose of the site is to test yourself and discover more about your personality and how to develop, the nice folk who have created it give a full breakdown of each personality type, including their:

strengths and weaknesses
romantic relationships
career paths, and
workplace habits.

This means that you have details available to you about all of these different “characters”, no matter what your own result is.

Which, when you think about it, is really useful for us writers!

We can use the information and examples given to make sure our characters act in accordance with their personality in different situations. It’s invaluable in helping us make them credible and three dimensional. As authors, we may sometimes be out of comfort zone creating characters who are diametrically opposed to ourselves, but the last thing we want is for every character we create to be a cardboard copy of ourselves, or each other. And if you want to write believable baddies — how they act, what motivates them, what their weakness are — this site can really help.

I’m an introverted and intuitive personality type — INFP-T (and I think a lot of writers are INFP or INFJ personality types), so it’s been really useful in helping me to create an extrovert, logical and organised character (ESTJ type) in the novel I’m working on.

Most of us have heard of the Myers Briggs personality type indicator. The 16 Personalities site uses the acronym format introduced by Myers-Briggs but redefines several Jungian traits as well as introducing an additional one, bringing their test closer to the dimensions of the Big Five Personality traits. And instead of incorporating cognitive functions such as Extraverted Thinking or Introverted Sensing, they have chosen five personality aspects: Mind (how we interact with our surroundings), Energy (how we see the world and process information), Nature (how we make decisions and cope with emotions), Tactics (our approach to work, planning and decision-making), and Identity (how confident we are in our abilities and decisions).

I know, I know — this all sounds horribly complicated. Head over to https://www.16personalities.com and let the experts show you how it works, complete with lovely graphics!

If you’re still here and want a few more technical details, they divide their personalities into the familiar 16 acronym types, categorised by role (which shows goals, interests and preferred activities) and strategy (our preferred ways of doing things and achieving goals). There are four main categories — Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels and Explorers — and each of these is subdivided into four types. For example, as an INFP-T I am categorised as a Diplomat and then as a Mediator. Here are the types by group:

Architect INTJ (-A,-T), Logician INTP (-A,-T), Commander ENTJ (-A,-T), Debater ENTP (-A,-T)

Advocate INFJ (-A,-T), Mediator INFP (-A,-T), Protagonist ENFJ (-A,-T), Campaigner ENFP (-A,-T)

Logistician ISTJ (-A,-T), Defender ISFJ (-A,-T), Executive ESTJ (-A,-T),
Consul ESFJ (-A,-T)

Virtuoso ISTP (-A,-T), Adventurer ISFP (-A,-T), Entrepreneur ESTP (-A,-T), Entertainer ESFP (-A,-T)

It makes for fascinating reading. But enough from me — go take a look. I hope you enjoy it and find it as useful as I have done!



3 thoughts on “A cheat for fiction writers: help with creating three dimensional characters

  1. Pingback: Guide to 3-D Characters – Wander

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