This post is for all the writers out there! A basic guide to MBTI typing and how it can help you with character development!
As always, I am a firm believer in eliminating the unnecessary to save room for knowledge that I can actually use. This often results in my forgetting how to do basic maths, but it also means that I aim to apply all of the knowledge that I acquire to some aspect of my life and work.
My attraction to the Meyers-Briggs theory originated in the realisation that I could use it to improve character consistency in my creative writing. In fact, I started this website as a way to practice using MBTI to profile fictional characters.
In addition to improving character consistency in writing, using MBTI also helps to avoid allowing your own personality to accidentally flow into characters where it’s not wanted. For instance, as an INTJ, I have a very difficult time writing from a feeling perspective, or from the viewpoint of any extravert.
Before I started using MBTI to prevent this, I often found myself accidentally writing characters that I intended to be the emotional drive for the story as cold and unfeeling. Either that, or I would majorly over-compensate their feelings by making them cry babies. Likewise, I would often start out a viewpoint as largely extraverted, and then accidentally revert to writing them as an introvert.
MBTI is a great too to combat problems of this nature. If you’re new to this, I’ll be upfront in saying that MBTI is highly complex and takes a little while to understand, but once you get the hang of the theory, it will become an invaluable writing tool.
Your first step, if you haven’t already, will be to familiarise yourself with the Idiot’s Guide to MBTI.
Once you feel you have an adequate understanding of MBTI basics, you’ll start profiling your characters according to their MBTI types.
If you’re less comfortable with your knowledge of MBTI, you can always pretend to be your character and take the MBTI test. The major downside to this is that there’s a likelihood of inaccuracy. However, if you must take a test this one is the most accurate out there. The other downside is that you won’t really be able to complete the next step because you won’t have an adequate understanding of the Jungian functions (you can learn about them Here)
Next, you’ll want to write a detailed profile of each character, likely styled after a similar manner to the character typings on this website (example). Typically, the character profiles that I write for my own characters are longer and more detailed than the ones I’ve written for The Book Addict’s Guide to MBTI, often comprising up to three pages per character.
Simply lay out your character’s Jungian functions and produce evidence to support your character’s thought process. You’ll be right on track to character consistency! Good luck!