In my quest to write my first novel, not as a plot-first venture, but with a balanced character-first/plot-first approach, I came to read Jeff Gerke’s book Plot Versus Character. In the opening sections of his book, he says he stumbled upon David Keirsey’s book, Please Understand Me ii, and it has made all the difference to him in the creation of his novel characters. Gerke says he works from the four common temperaments of human beings, and then adds layers to each to make for real-life characters in his works. So for the past few days, in my spare time between work projects, I’ve been reading Keirsey and taking Myers Briggs personality tests.
So far, I’ve taken four tests–one done with about 10 questions on my iPhone–I was an ISFP–The Artisan-Composer on that one. The second was done using the 70-question assessment in Keirsey’s book–that one came out with my being an IXFJ-A Guardian-Protector or an Idealist-Counselor, and I say X because I had a 10/10 score for S/N. The third test was via 16personalitytypes.com–I turned being an ESFJ-The Guardian/Provider there. And then I took an extensive 248-question assessment at MyPersonality.info–where I came out as an INTJ-The Strategist/Mastermind.
So basically, after four tests, I honestly don’t know what I am, but I’m going to use some of my logical talents suggested in the INTJ to deduce first and foremost, that I am not so much an E (Expressive) as in the ESFJ. What is equally disturbing was that not until the MyPersonality.info test did I have an N (Introspective) anywhere, as in INJT. Up until that time, F (Friendly) and S (Observant) had been common, and J (Scheduling), too.
What I’ve been able to accomplish in all four tests is wind up in each of the temperament camps, which I would say makes sense to a degree, but we’re trying to firmly categorize people here, not leave wiggle room. (See, the INTJ is coming thru?)
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO ME?
You may think, who cares?
In many ways, I do. And not just because I’m writing a book. At 48 years of age, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection over the past few months. My counselor says that by writing this book I appear to be “unstuck” finally from the mess I’ve endured the past four years. This is cathartic.
But it is also important to me as I begin the process of constructing an intelligent story/novel, that I’m not writing just a plot-first peace where the plot drives the whole story with just explosions and very little substance to get through. My story demands some strong and intelligent characters to make it more compelling reading.
I’ve made my counselor laugh when I have told him recently that I understand now why God had to rest on the seventh day of creation.
Creating your own universe, characters and the like is DRAINING. It’s exhaustive. And it’s a very involved process. I can sit and seek to develop the characters, plot points, scenes, themes and more for where this story is going to go, but I can only do it for hours at a time before I’m virtually brain dead. But it has been exciting as I can now move my hands and almost shape these entities that are becoming characters in my mind almost as though there was imaginary clay in my hands and I was shaping them into figurines. (More INTJ there with a dose of ISFP….)
I’m fascinated by this subject and the study of the topic and will post more in the days and weeks to come as I continue through the process of penning my first book. It’s been almost four months now that I’ve been working on this (almost daily) and I have yet to seriously begin writing the first of anything in the book. I’d begun to play around with the opening sentence and opening paragraph. Then as I read another of Gerke’s books and discovered his book on Plot Versus Character, I came to fully realize, I’m just not to that point yet. There’s still so very much more I need to learn about myself before I can begin to develop the people who are going to bring my story to life.
Myers Briggs is going to provide my characters with their core personalities. But there’s a ton more that has to come with each of them beyond that. I recommend the Gerke books on writing and Please Understand Me ii, whether you’re writing a novel or not. You’re going to be amazed with how much you can learn about yourself.
My INTJ report from MyPersonality.info is available for you to read here. It’s pretty interesting stuff….