Monday Muse: Getting to Know You

Heyo! Welcome to today’s Monday Muse! In my continuing bid to keep these posts short and sweet, I am going to get to the point.

Getting to know your characters. Yes, this is one of those practical muses. So, short AND helpful! The Holy Grail of Blog Posts.

I’ve done some stuff on writing before. I’ve talked about worldbuilding on multiple occasions, as well as the joys of research. But I don’t typically talk about how you can get to know your characters. I’ve mentioned my love of things like character sketches (brief scenes in which you answer questions about your characters) and finding physical models (especially for the sound of their voice), but there’s another tool that is the best kept secret of the writing community:

The Myers-Briggs Test

Yup. That’s right. The INFJs ad ESTPs you’ve heard about. They’re an amazing tool for understanding your characters. What motivates them, what kinds of characters they’d have good relationships with (not just romantic, either), what kind of careers would fit, etc. The classification is a great foundation tool, and a great way to help a bunch of behaviors coalesce into a cohesive personality type. Of course, the danger of taking this test is using the classification as gospel, refusing to deviate even when it doesn’t feel like your character. After all, this is just a tool, and in the end, you are the person who knows your character best.

Another great thing — and bear with me here — is running your character through the Hogwarts Sorting Hat test. Obviously, going through the whole thing on Pottermore means creating a new account for each character, but there are plenty of other versions that are near-copies and provide just as good a result. And there’s this really cool post that explains why so many characters seem to fit multiple houses that also really helped me come to an understanding about the main character of my NaNo novel. Which is great.

Now… these aren’t fool proof. Obviously. That character I just mentioned? She is one of those for whom the tests aren’t terribly helpful. Hedy’s marginal. She’s introverted, but is also often the brightest star in the room. She’s judging, but also has a tendency to be a dreamer. She’s a thinker whose strong emotions often obliterate her logic. She’s intuitive but her intuitions come from her experiences and sensory input. So, basically, she’s a little bit of everything. And it took FOREVER to come to the realization that, of all the types, INFJ is the only one that comes close. But KNOWING that (along with the Gryffindor primary & secondary with a Ravenclaw model) helped me build off of what I knew and construct her identity. Or, rather, put words to what I already knew. Which is just as important for, you know, a writer.

Well… that’s it from me today. And, yes, this is short. Comparatively. I’m working on it, I swear. I’ll be back on Friday for the continued Russian Literature Depression-Off!

C

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